FEATURE — Do you have picky eaters at your dinner table? Trying to please all the taste buds in the house leads to extra planning, cooking and sometimes tension at the dinner table. This may leave you feeling like you want to abandon dinnertime all together.
The Family Dinner project offers the following ideas to help ease the stress caused by picky eaters:
Ignore what they eat
Do you feel comfortable eating with someone looking over your shoulder or making comments about what you are and are not eating? Kids don’t like it either. Your “encouragement” may feel more like pressure to a child. Instead, switch the conversation to nonfood topics and make the table a fun place to be.
Be a role model
If your kids see you eating it, they’re likely to give it a try, too. Make sure there are plenty of healthy foods at the table and on your plate. As your kids see healthy foods as a normal part of your meals, over time they’re more likely to give them a try.
Pick your battles
You are likely to get less pushback from kids if you serve preferred foods alongside new foods. Have something at the dinner table each night that you know your kids will eat, like bread, apples or carrot sticks. Instead of forcing your kids to eat only new foods or foods they don’t like or go hungry, encourage them to try a little of everything.
Rule out underlying issues
In rare cases, there may be a bigger reason your child is picky. If your child is not gaining weight at an appropriate rate or has overly emotional or physical reactions to foods, you may want to consult with your family doctor.
The bottom line is, relax when it comes to picky eaters. Your job as the parent is to continually offer healthy options at dinnertime. Sometimes you’ll have a win, and sometimes you’ll lose. As long as you’re offering healthy food options and modeling good behavior yourself, you’re doing your part to encourage your picky eater to make healthy food choices.
Our Kid Create Blog has many kid-friendly recipes. Click here to check them out.
A favorite kid-friendly recipe at my house is Sloppy Joes. There’s no need for a seasoning packet with this recipe! You can make it from scratch. Find the recipe here. Enjoy!
Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.
This article originally appeared Sept. 16, 2021, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.
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