There is nothing more bothersome – and perhaps irritating – to a parent than to have a child who is a picky eater. No matter what food they try to serve, their child refuses to eat it. Worse, some even go so far as to throw a tantrum if they don’t get the food that they like. Because of this, there is a great concern that their children are not meeting their daily requirements for the important nutrients needed in their growth and development which can only be obtained by eating a healthy diet.
If you don’t want to have your dining table turned into a battlefield during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, here are some tips that will help you get even the pickiest of eaters eating healthily.
Stimulate your child’s appetite
You can never force a picky eater to eat if he or she is not hungry. If they are still feeling full, no amount of coercion or bribing will get you to eat their snacks or consume what you have set out on their plates. The best way to get around this dilemma is by not giving your child milk, juice, or snacks one hour before a meal in order to stimulate the child’s appetite. If your child is hungry by mealtime, more likely, he or she will consume what you have served with less fuss.
Establish a routine
Another way by which you can get your picky eater to eat is by regulating their appetites. This is done by setting a fixed routine or schedule. You need to serve food at the same time daily. If you establish a routine, you are assured that your child will be hungry when he or she sits down at the dining table. Do not create distractions during mealtimes. Turn off the radio or TV set or keep their toys within reach. If you are worried about your child eating too many sweets for dessert, you should only serve cakes, pastries, and other special desserts once or twice a week. Serve only healthy desserts like fruits on a mealtime basis. Also, never use withholding dessert as a form of punishment. This will give the wrong message to the child that dessert is a special treat and will end up craving for more.
Be a little sneaky
Kids who absolutely hate vegetables will most likely not eat anything that looks green. Be a little sneaky by putting veggies and other much-hated foods into your child’s favorite dishes. For example, you can chop broccoli and green peppers finely and mix them into the spaghetti sauce. If your child hates fruit with his/her cereal, you can either put fruit slices on top of his/her cereal or you can dice them and mix them well with the cereal flakes.
Introduce new foods at the right time
The best time to introduce new foods to picky eaters is when they are hungry or rested. Children try out new dishes by smelling and tasting them. One way to entice your child to eat is by preparing the food in a way that is appealing to them. For example, you can make funny faces with fruits and vegetables. You can also serve veggie sticks with their favorite dips.
Involve your child in food purchases and preparation
Parents of picky eaters should consider bringing their kids along when they go out shopping for groceries. Let your child select the fruits and vegetables that he or she would like to eat. When you get home, let your child help you in preparing the dishes by rinsing fruits and veggies, grating ingredients, stirring sauces, and setting the table. The more involved the child is in the food preparations, the greater would be his or her inclination to try out the dish that he/she helped make.