Five More Tips for Coping with your Picky Eater
(HealthCastle.com) Have you ever wished for a crystal ball - that globe of crystal or glass in which images of the future would appear? When it comes to parenting struggles, I have often wished for a crystal ball. I have felt like, if I only knew WHEN things would get better, I would find the day-to-day struggles easier to manage, knowing that my struggle would not go on forever, and that yes, what I am doing today DOES make a difference, and that it IS contributing to the resolution of my struggle, even if today, I cannot blatantly see it.
In a previous post, I described my personal experience and challenge with having a picky eater. Since there is no crystal ball that predicts when picky eating issues will resolve, I can only offer suggestions and tips. Part I offered 5 tips for coping with a picky eater. In this post, I am offering 5 more tips for coping with a picky eater.
5 More Tips for Coping with your Picky Eater:
Tip #6: Think about child size portions
- A study from Pennsylvania look at at the effect of different portions of macaroni and cheese and fixed amounts of unsweetened applesauce, green beans and whole wheat rolls served with the entrée. The researchers found that serving a smaller age-appropriate portion of macaroni and cheese, while offering a consistent amount of the vegetable and fruit lead to increased fruit and vegetable intake.
- Try using a smaller plate and offering a balance of vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins. We continue to do this to this day for the entire family.
Tip #7: Involve the kids in the preparation of foods.
- Kids love to cook! Children are more interested in trying items that they have helped prepare. An easy dinner option could be assembling mini chicken wraps or DIY pizza.
- Set out a variety of fillings or toppings such as chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, cucumber, even pineapples and let the kids put together their own wrap or pizza.
Tip #8: Nourish your child at snacks
- Snacks make up ~25% of our daily calorie intake! They make an important contribution to our overall food intake. Think of snacks as mini-meals.
- Especially if your child's appetite is unpredictable, snacks provide the opportunity to nourish your child. Some quick snack ideas could include carrots and hummus, apples and cheese, or celery and peanut butter.
Tip #9: Offer encouragement, but not praise
- They tried a cucumber – they didn’t land a rocket on the moon. Don’t go overboard with praising your child for trying a new food. Instead try something like “Good for you, you tried cucumber and you liked it!”.
Tip #10: Ignore the perceived pressure you might feel to have a perfect eater
- You can imagine how I felt when I, a dietitian, could not get my child to eat well. It was humbling and a great learning in my parenting journey – their eating is about them – not about how it made me look as a parent.
Having had a child who was very picky about vegetables, fruits and meat, and now that I am on “the other side”, I can say that the old adage “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink” applies. As a parent, you can continue to do your role as a parent in providing nourishing foods at consistent times in a safe place, but you cannot force them to eat or like any one food.
Written by Kristyn Hall MSc, RD, Director and Dietitian, HealthCastle Calgary. Thank you to Laurel Zvaigzne BSc Natural Science and BSc Dietetics [candidate] for her contributions to the research behind this post.