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Challenging Your Picky Eater

Few things are as frustrating to parents as dealing with a determinedly picky eater. The situation can be exacerbated during quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic as many supermarkets are still experiencing shortages of some items and limiting others. The following are some tips that will introduce youngsters to new foods and make them more well-rounded eaters.

  1. Calling a child a picky eater can actually make the situation worse and lead to other undesirable food-time behaviors. Similar phrases such as “He won’t eat that” or “She only likes pasta” serves to reinforce the behavior and gives tacit approval of what children are doing.
  2. It may sound harsh, but you buy the groceries and children need to eat what you purchase. Stock the pantry and fridge with a variety of healthy foods that you want them to eat. Stop buying cookies, beverages and other foods that cater to their pickiness. The transition won’t be easy – stand firm.
  3. Don’t turn the dinner table into a battlefield. Simply serve the meal and let children eat as much or as little as they want. Eliminate phrases such as “Just try a bite.” Kids are more astute than you think and those types of phrases open the door for children to try to negotiate terms for the return of their picky favorites.
  4. Remember that food isn’t a reward – it’s the fuel the body needs to live, work, and play.
  5. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with serving breakfast foods for lunch or dinner. Mix up the selection and try not to always serve the same dishes for the same meals.
  6. Youngsters want to feel as if they have some control and you can provide that while still getting them to eat healthy. Letting them choose blueberries or strawberries, carrots or cauliflower, or a bagel versus cereal will make them more agreeable about their mealtime selections.
  7. It can be helpful to involve children in the meal preparation and you’ll also be teaching them some valuable life skills.
  8. Keep trying, no matter how long it takes. Youngsters can be extremely resistant to change, just like their adult counterparts. They may try staging “hunger strikes” or throw a tantrum. Stay neutral and don’t give in to manipulative behavior.

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