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4 Ways to Deal with a Picky Eater

 

 

As I’ve mentioned many times before on this blog, I have the personal experience of being the mother of a very picky eater.  This would bother most moms, but as a dietitian, it’s made me want to pull my hair out very frequently.

Now that I have another boy who is now 2 years old, I can see that even the kids who are not very “picky” as babies can still get a little funny about their food later on!

Before you pull your hair out, here are 4 ways to deal with a picky eater:

1. Try, try again! And again.

You must realize that sometimes it takes 10 or more times of offering a food before your child will even taste it.  Like many things in life, patience and persistence are crucial to success.   You will get tired of “wasting” food or going to the trouble of preparing it for your child, only to throw it out.  It will be worth it in the end.

2. “Hide” some good nutrition.

Sure, ideally you want your child to reach for a raw carrot with excitement, but until that happens, be sneaky!  Hide pureed carrots in spaghetti sauce or spinach in a smoothie.

3.  Make it fun!

Making food fun does not always have to be complicated, it can be as simple as the way you talk about it.  Only you know what excites your kids!  Here’s an example: My son is very into being “the strongest” and “biggest.”  He hardly ever eats actual meat, which is why I make sure he gets protein in other ways.  When I was browning some ground beef for spaghetti, I said tonight we’re going to have spaghetti with protein bumps in it, and they make you get stronger!  He finished his entire bowl of homemade ABC’s with “protein bumps” in it, and the whole time was watching  his arm muscles!

4. Avoid war at the table.

Maybe  not all kids, but it seems that many will use food to declare war.  It seems they can sense when they are “winning” and stressing you out.  Other times, kids are just very cautious about trying new things.  Either way, getting all worked up into a tizzy about the situation will not help things…and will probably make it worse.

These strategies have worked with my picky eater, and they seem to work with many.  I’ve heard many a frustrated mom say that they just don’t know what to do next.  Like many other aspects of parenting, you cannot control everything about your child but you can set boundaries.

You cannot force your child to like broccoli, but you can make healthy foods available.  You can limit how much fast food, sweets or high calorie beverages they consume!  You set the limits, set a good example, and reap the benefits!

 

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Trying to Overcome Picky Eating…

healthy eating chart As I’ve mentioned many other times in other blog posts, my sweet Little Stinker is a very picky eater.

Thankfully, he will eat some very healthy foods (sprouted grain bread with homemade peanut butter, plain greek yogurt with a little bit of honey, sweet potatoes, etc.).

Thankfully.

Because if he didn’t eat those things, I might just lose my mind (being a dietitian!).

But anyway, I have always wanted to think of some way to convince him to try new foods.  He is very, very reluctant.  In fact, he just plain would not do it for a long time.  And I didn’t want to make it into such a battle that it just made matters worse.

One day, I thought of something that just might break through to him: a sticker chart that involved getting prizes!  What kid doesn’t like that?

I put it off for a long time, just because I was busy.  One day, I was in Office Depot and I thought of it again and bought what I needed to get to work making this chart.

These are our “rules” for the healthy eating chart:

  • Each week we pick a new food to focus on
  • I give him a reasonable amount to eat — more than one bite but not too much to overwhelm him
  • I wait until he is hungry to give it to him — kids are much more likely to “like” a food when they are hungry than full (common sense, eh?)
  • At the end of the week, if he has tried that food every day, he gets a smiley face and a prize (so far they have all involved super heroes)

He has loved doing this!  He would not even taste an egg before doing this, and I even caught him say quietly that he actually likes blueberries.

picky eater chart

I also try to use this as a way to teach about nutrients. For example, when he was eating the eggs, we talked about how they help you get strong and have muscles like Spiderman.

Next week he wants to do carrots and we will be preparing them in many different ways!

Not bad for a “picky eater!”

 

 

 

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Smoothies Help me Sleep at Night

shake in mason jar You’re probably thinking that I have trouble sleeping, and I have found the magic formula to aid in sleep, right?

Well, this is sort of  true.

Here’s the truth: I am a Registered Dietitian with a very, very picky eater living in my house.  He is four years old, and has the determination of a 20 year old!  And when he is determined not to eat something, he won’t.

I have been known to try to trick him into eating something new, but usually it doesn’t work. Can you relate?

As a dietitian, this type of problem can really stress me out.  I, of all people, know the importance of getting a well-balanced, healthy diet.

Imagine my shock when my dad started giving my picky eater “green drinks” (full of fruits and vegetables) and he actually drank it.  And sometimes even asked for more!

little buddy drinking shake I have shown how to make your own peanut butter and make pesto with the Vita-mix, but the shakes we made with the Vita-mix are just as amazing.  My picky eater says “YUCK” about a blueberry but he sure will drink it!

I “hide” all sorts of things in these yummy “milkshakes” (as my picky eater calls them!): flax seeds, Greek yogurt, spinach, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and lots more!

vitamix shake with flaxseeds The smoothies we make are full of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

vitamix berry shake If I can’t get my little picky eater to eat many fruits and vegetables, at least I can get him to drink them!

It really does help me sleep at night.

{Linking up to Mouth Watering Monday & This Chick Cooks}

 

 

 

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Picky Eaters and Personalities

Picky eaters come in all shapes and sizes.

In our house, he happens to be four years old and the very cautious type.  The Little Buddy pictured on the right is, for the most part, a “typical” oldest child.  He’s responsible, sweet and knows exactly what he wants.

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