Let’s be honest… most kids will go through at least one picky phase. And the foods going untouched during these phases aren’t the sugary treats or salty snacks! Instead, the healthy foods are usually the ones getting the snub! So how do you help your child eat healthy foods even in the midst of a picky phase, without turning mealtimes into a battle? Here are 5 tips to help your picky eater eat healthy food:
Serve healthy versions of the current favorite foods: Got a child who will only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Switch out the current bread for 100% whole grain bread and the jelly for an all-fruit preserve. Does your picky eater insist on eating cereal for every snack? Choose a healthier version, like granola, or Cheerios. Is your child addicted to french fries? Make a home-made baked version using sweet potatoes! You can make or find a healthier version to almost any of your child’s favorite foods.
Offer veggies right before dinner: You know those 5 minutes before dinner time when your child is absolutely s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g and “needs” something to eat right then? Rather than get upset about the timing, offer a healthy snack s/he wouldn’t usually indulge in like broccoli florets and carrots with a little dip.Keep some pre-sliced vegetables in the fridge just for times like these, and then whatever doesn’t get eaten before dinner can be served as a side with dinner.
Give sample-size servings: When dealing with a picky eater, keep expectations low. If you pile a plate high with an offending food, you’ll likely get nowhere. Offering a small amount will be less overwhelming and seem more manageable for a picky eater.
Eat together: Make meal time a time to be together and connect with each other. Try sitting together, without distractions like phones or TV. Keep the conversation fun and light and not about eating. Mealtime should be enjoyable and shouldn’t turn into a power struggle.
Don’t Let Your Child Fill Up on Less Nutritious Foods: Meals and snacks should help nourish the body and contribute to a well-rounded diet! If your child is in a picky phase, don’t let him/her fill up junk food. Once your son or daughter is full from non-nutritous choices he/she will be less willing and likely to try more healthy options.