Some kids are picky eaters. While there are many reasons for your child to be picky at mealtimes, know that it is normal behavior. And with a few steps, you can improve their eating habits and increase the variety of foods they are willing to eat. Here are some ways to help you meal plan when your child is a picky eater.
Get Them Involved
The more involved your child is in the discussion, the more likely they will try new foods. So talk about foods in a positive way. And encourage them to enjoy mealtimes.
Give Kids A Variety Of Foods
The best way to improve the palette is to taste a variety of foods. So make it fun, by adding new fruits to the fruit basket and incorporating new things to try at mealtimes.
By exposing kids to new foods, they will be able to feel, see and know more about them before you place them onto their plate. And when they eat them for the first time, you will increase the likelihood your little picky eater will try and perhaps enjoy the food. Because it is no longer strange to them due to the exposure beforehand.
Set a Menu And Collaborate
Set your weekly menu and have your kids help you put it together. By keeping you child invested in their meals they will be more likely to eat better. So stick to the menu, while it’s good to offer a few options, try keeping them to just a few.
Avoid The Fight At Mealtimes
The problem will only get worse if you try and force feed your child at mealtimes. This becomes a control issue and your child will likely sense your stress at mealtimes and push back.
Instead, try being a bit more flexible instead of set mealtimes. And be more realistic about the amount of food your child eats. Having to finish your plate can be too much pressure for a picky eater. Instead, offer to save the food for later in case they get hungry.
Try offering foods that you approve
If you do not want your child to eat mac and cheese then don’t make it an option for them! Try not to cater the menu to suit your child. Instead, try offering choices that are acceptable to you.
Avoid the “Dessert Is A Reward” Method
While it may seem obvious, parents make this mistake time and time again. You get dessert if you finish your vegetables… Now, the vegetables are considered less valuable to the child than dessert. Not because of what it tastes like, but because of the framework YOU created around the dessert.
Separate Behaviors from Picky Eating
If your child is losing it at the dinner table, that is considered a behavioral issue and not a picky eater issue. So make sure you separate the two so your child does not get punished by having to leave the table and thus avoiding trying new foods.
Avoid a Sweet Food Ban
Sweets are sweet, of course. And kids will be exposed to them with or without you. So make them accessible but teach kids how often to eat them and how to treat them. They should know they are to be treated differently than “Food”. And that they are NOT a reward.
Include Kids In Meal Preparation
Since most picky eating stems from control issues, involving your kids in meal preparation will help them stay curious. And they will want to participate in the results of their labor. So get them to unpack the groceries and help set the table and more.
Lead By Example
The best way to handle a picky eater is to lead by example. When you try new foods, show your curiosity, enthusiasm, and make it fun. Add things to your plate you have never tried, and let your kids know how good it is to try new foods.
Kids should have a healthy relationship with food. This will help avoid eating disorders and weight problems later in life.