8 Tips for Getting Picky Kids to Eat Healthier
We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Getting Picky Eaters to Eat Healthier
Sounds like a dream, huh? Some days it is just a dream in my household and others we do awesome, and it surprises me. We go through phases where the kids will eat and ask for veggies at each meal and other times I can’t even get them to look at a green bean. I don’t let this discourage me—too much—I just try again with the same foods at a later date and hope for the best. Isn’t that what a lot of parenting feels like? Ha!
This isn’t going to change things overnight, but with consistency and time, you will be surprised at what your kids open up to and decide to try.
Here’s a list of things to try:
- Lead by example. Just like with everything else you do, your kids are watching and learning from you. Most kids want to be like their parents. If they see you doing something consistently, they will be more willing to try it. This starts with eating the same thing as you. Don’t make separate meals. If you know there will be a battle at meal time with something you made, make a side that you know they will eat. That way they don’t boycott a whole meal but are still exposed to healthier options and new foods.
- Let them pick off your plate. I know this goes against what we teach them but isn’t “what’s on mommy’s or daddy’s plate always so much better?” I’m not saying to let them take over your plate but if you see them eyeing it ask if they want a bite.
- Let them help you shop. I know taking the kids grocery shopping with you is already a struggle most days but letting them take part in shopping makes them excited about the foods. The more involved they are in the planning, buying, cooking process the more excited they are about the meal. Let them help with writing the list or checking things off at the store. Ask their opinion on what tomato looks yummier. Ask them how to cook the broccoli for dinner. Just get them involved.
- Let them help in the kitchen. This part I have a struggle with. I think I might have a little OCD in the kitchen, but I have noticed when I let them help the eating process goes so Let them clean the fruits and veggies. Let them mix the ingredients. Of course, you will want to base this on age and what is safe for your child.
- Offer it even if they have previously disliked it. It takes 10+ times for a child to be exposed to food before he will have a willingness to like or even try it. Don’t do this over a weeks time, spread it out over a month or two.
- Don’t force them to eat it. This is only going to make them hate or resent the food. Plus, there will probably be unnecessary tears or tantrums. You want the foods to be a happy experience your they may never eat that food again.
- Make it fun. Use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes. Make colorful kabobs with fruits or veggies. I’m not saying it needs to be Pinterest worthy, though if you are crafty like that go for it, but just make it visually appealing to their little eyes.
- If all else fails, sneak it into meals. I do this often, even if they are eating healthy. I like to make sure they are getting lots of good veggies in each day. Most of the time they know the veggies are there but when it comes time to eat it the veggies are hidden, and they are open to eating the meal. Make fruit and yogurt smoothies and throw in some spinach. Spinach is virtually unnoticeable as far as taste goes, but it might make your shake green depending on your other ingredients. I use zucchini a lot; it has almost no taste cooked into foods and when it’s peeled it blends in well. I shred zucchini and add it to burgers, pasta, muffins, pancakes—yes it works for desserts and breakfast items also.
As important as it is for them to eat healthily, I believe they should get treats and snacks also. Of course, in moderation and it doesn’t need to be daily. Keeping them away from things that their friends are eating and being strict with sticking to healthy eating can backfire on you in the long run. Same goes for us. I know when I have been super strict with cutting out foods when I do eat them I tend to overindulge. That’s the last thing I want my children to do with sweets and treats.
Enforce and model healthy eating but don’t obsess over it.
Check back for more tips and recipes that have worked for my family.
If you have any tricks that have worked for you, share them in the comments below.