Getting Your Picky Eater to Eat Healthy Food
Is Your Kid A Picky Eater?
Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. When raising a kid who is a picky eater, those desperate times often fall around mealtime. Instead of attempting to airplane asparagus into their mouths, resulting in a fiery crash and temper tantrum, you could just fool them. It’s not as despicable as it sounds. After all, a little trickery is better than a plane crash. And a well-thought-out meal that your kids actually enjoy is leagues better than a meltdown and mashed potatoes on the wall. The
following tips will help you ethically and responsibly fool your kids into eating healthy.
Why Proper Nutrition Is Important for Growing Kids
First, you must recognize the importance of healthy eating for growing bodies and minds. You’re probably keenly aware that apples are better than French fries, but understanding exactly why that is so will help you stay vigilant when the goings get tough and the apples are flung on the floor.
Good nutrition for kids is important for:
● Supporting stable energy;
● Growing strong bones and teeth;
● Improving focus and mental clarity;
● Maintaining a healthy weight;
● Preventing chronic diseases.
In other words, letting them have gummy worms instead of peas every time can have lasting, adverse effects. Of course, you can indulge every once in a while, but make it a treat to do so. This can make it feel more special for them, anyway. As a mom, you don’t want to tell your kids no, but you also want them to grow up strong, physically and mentally.
Why Your Child May Be A Picky Eater
If you’re dealing with a picky eater, it’s important to rule out reasons for their pickiness. Sometimes, it is more than the innate tendency of children to be finicky eaters. While it’s something many parents deal with, it’s a good idea to understand the causes.
The more common reasons for kids being picky eaters in early childhood include:
● Early difficulties with feeding;
● Late introduction of lumpy foods at weaning;
● Perceived pressure and control from parents over eating habits;
● Simple preferences.
Kids thrive on predictability, and when food is unpredictable or unknown, it can be scary and unlikeable to them. Trying to force this food on them is overbearing, even if it’s in their best interest. It could be hurting them emotionally, but you should also rule out whether it’s hurting them physically. While less common, some kids resort to behaviors that seem like picky eating because they’re having an allergic reaction to certain foods.
Kids have limited communication skills and may have trouble describing why they don’t like foods — or even making the connection that the food is causing illness. Make sure to rule out food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances before integrating a food they don’t like into their nutrition plan.
The most common food allergies include:
● Fish and shellfish;
● Peanuts and tree nuts;
● Wheat, or gluten.
Talking with a doctor is the best way to determine if this is the source of your child’s hesitation to eat certain foods. You can watch for allergic reactions, as well, such as hives, swelling, fever, or abnormal bowel movements. This is uncommon, but it’s something to be aware of to see if it happens to your child.
Creative Tricks To Make A Picky Kid Eat Healthier
If you are certain your children don’t have food allergies and are just picky eaters, it’s time to learn a few new tricks. Banish healthy food struggles with your kids by using the following unique techniques.
There is one thing that most kids have in common besides being the pickiest eaters alive — they love games. Gamifying nutrition can motivate them to eat healthier. They’ll want to do whatever it takes to participate in the game time and time again. While you teach kids not to play with their food, you can still incorporate games into mealtime in some capacity.
Some game ideas include stickers that transform their bananas into magic wands, matching games to identify fruits and vegetables, and healthy snack bingo. You can even utilize mobile games to incentivize kids to eat healthily. Kids already love asking to use your smartphone, so use that to your advantage to mitigate tantrums. You can let them play during meals to mitigate tantrums, or you can fire up educational online games to teach them the value of eating healthy.
You can also integrate healthy eating into mobile games they already love. For example, you can play Pokemon mobile games with your child, challenging them to eat a bite of the same color as each character they catch. This way, they are eating a wider variety of foods on their plate.
Make Food Fun
There isn’t much that’s more fun than playing games with your food. However, you can increase the fun levels even further by involving your kids in meal and snack prep. Creating healthy habits for kids starts in the kitchen. Show them first-hand the joy of cooking and putting together food that nourishes their bodies. Let them experiment with different flavor combinations, guiding them to choose healthy options and try to make them taste as good as possible. You can also inject fun into food time by making food look appealing. Some examples of kid-friendly food presentation include smiley face veggie trays and fruit cut into fun shapes like stars and hearts.
Sneak in Fruits and Vegetables
If you still can’t influence your kids to eat their recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day, you can hide these ingredients in other foods that they do like. Put small amounts of greens in a yogurt and berry smoothie. Bake zucchini bread with cinnamon topping. Puree vegetables like cauliflower and red pepper to add to pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti. They won’t be able to tell the difference, and you’ll have some leverage when they say they don’t like certain healthy foods in the future.