Most parents have to deal with a picky eater at some point. A child who will only eat orange foods for months on end. A child who will eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Here are 4 ways that you can help your child enjoy a greater variety of foods.
- Get him involved in the meal preparation
Whether you’re making homemade pizzas, stir-fry, soups, or stews, you can get your picky eater involved. He can help you choose which ingredients to add and which to leave out. The only rule is that there has to be a couple veggies chosen, but he can choose which ones. Having the power in choices will make him much more open to eating things he helps to make. Ask him what he would like to see in his lunch bag and if they are reasonable, let him have them.
- Get creative
Lunches don’t have to be boring. Instead of doing the same old sandwich every day, add a little creativity to your child’s lunchbox. Instead of a sandwich you can pack leftover spaghetti, soup, or stew in a thermos, which will keep it warm. Instead of chips or cookies you can add cubed cheese, crackers and grapes to the lunchbox. Variety is fun for kids. Instead of having the same dull lunch every day, they can enjoy a little bit of everything each day. Of course some days will be busier than others and you won’t have time for the creative stuff. Those are the days when making sandwiches will come in handy.
- Offer healthy choices only
If you have a bag of cookies sitting on the counter, your child is going to want them. He’s not going to choose to have an apple or banana for snack or dessert over cookies. It’s important to keep the tempting items out of view. The easiest way is to keep them out of the house altogether, but most people don’t want to go that far. You can hide them in upper cupboards so that they aren’t always in view and tempting your child. When something isn’t always around, you tend to forget about it. If you only put healthy things in the dinner table, that’s all he has to choose from. Try to put at least one healthy thing you know he enjoys out, so that if nothing else he’ll eat that. Don’t give in and make a meal that only he wants and that you’d rather him not eat. If you want to build healthier habits, you have to be smart about it.
- Introduce new foods often
As your picky eater becomes more accustomed to the healthy food choices you offer, introduce new foods now and then. A new fruit or veggie once a week that the entire family can try together. Show your child that it’s okay to say you don’t like something. We all have our preferences. No one likes everything. As long as you show your child that you are willing to try new things before you decide whether you like them or not, your child will follow your lead.
Getting children to eat well is every parents struggle. Don’t stress yourself out about it, but do what you can to expose your child to a variety of foods. He won’t like them all, but the willingness to try is what matters in the end.t