Part 4: How to Get Your Picky Eater to Eat Healthier
Picky eaters. We all know one.
Sometimes it’s our kids, sometimes it’s our spouses! Most parents want their kids to try to eat as healthy as possible, but sometimes, it’s not as simple as it seems to get them to eat better. I have so many friends who have children who get stuck in the rut of little Johnny only eats (insert pizza, chicken nuggets, macaroni, McDonald’s.) At first glance, it may seem like these parents are just giving in, but after talking to them, most of them just don’t know what else to do to get their kids to eat better.
It’s not that they haven’t tried. Sometimes, it’s more than just being picky. Sometimes it has to do with sensory issues, texture issues, even speech and language delays. Lots of the parents I’ve talked to feel helpless because if they don’t serve XYZ, little Johnny will not eat, sometimes for more than a day, so they just give them what they will eat.
After some research, I’ve noticed that this is a really common issue. Here are some of the best tips I’ve seen:
- Don’t make a big deal out of it. Serve the child whatever mom and dad are having. If you want him to eat veggies, make sure you’re eating them, too. Don’t discuss it ahead of time, just serve it on a plate and let him explore for himself.
- Be sneaky. There are tons of healthy recipes and ways to sneak veggies and fruits into baked goods, soups and other foods that they won’t taste or notice. Zucchini muffins, cauliflower pizza crust, Nice-cream made of frozen bananas, high quality protein powder, and peanut butter, and even Turkey Taco soup with pumpkin puree are good options.
- Have fun. Use special cutters for cheese, fruit or veggies, picks, and fun plates. Some of our favorites are Dylbug, animal picks, and these cutters! (search #whatlolaeats on Instagram for more ideas!) Boon makes some great ones for kiddos who don’t like their foods to touch.
- Use Dips. Warm some peanut butter or serve a dollop of yogurt to dip fruit, hummus or guacamole for dipping veggies.
- Let them pick. Solicit their help at the grocery store to try a new veggie that looks interesting and try it out together.
- Creative Rebranding. Calling mashed potatoes “fluffy clouds”, or broccoli “little trees”. Get creative and have fun!
- Switch it up! Try serving a veggie cooked that your child doesn’t like when raw, or vice-versa. It could be a texture or a temperature issue.
- Try lemon juice. We are programmed to like sweeter tasting foods rather than bitter, and children have more tastebuds than we do. (we lose them as we age) Sour flavors counteract bitter tastes, so try adding lemon juice or zest to broccoli, green beans, or brussel sprouts.
- Roast it. Roasting or baking veggies can help bring out their natural sweetness. We love roasted sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, mushrooms, and squashes. Try zucchini, butternut, and summer squash.
- Keep trying. Try different recipes, new flavors, different combinations. Maybe one will be a hit!
Sometimes, it’s just that they want to be independent and have their own opinion. Whatever the reason is for picky eaters, these are some great tips and tricks you can try. Sometimes even speech therapy can help with texture issues and gag reflex problems.
Check out our hilarious video from today.