If you have a picky eater in your family, transitioning to a smart lunch may take some creativity. But don't despair. Be patient, be enthusiastic, and don't give up hope.
Building on the basics laid out in our 5 Tips n' Tricks, here are some additional strategies to deal with your family's picky eaters:
1. Introduce a wide variety of foods.
Offer a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Even if your children eat only two bites, they will understand that these foods make up a healthy diet. As they get older, increase serving sizes and expand your menu offerings.
2. Experiment with old favourites.
Offer a new food with a familiar one. Applaud adventurous eating.
3. Offer the same food prepared in different ways.
Offer foods alone, and prepared in combination with other ingredients. Cut the same foods in various ways: try carrot sticks one day and carrot coins another.
4. Don't give up.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children will not accept a new food until it has been offered at least ten times. Continue to offer new foods until your child considers them familiar.
5. Serve vegetables and new foods as an appetizer.
If vegetables and new foods are served last or with other foods, children can easily fill up and leave the vegetables behind. Begin dinner, for example, with two green beans and two steamed carrots or a green salad. When everyone has finished serve the rest of the meal. If your children ask for food while you're cooking dinner, serve a salad or veggie platter to tide them over.
6. Institute the two-bite rule.
Require your children to eat two bites of each item on their plate. Explain that our tastes change as we grow up. The foods we didn't like last month or even last week may taste great now because we've acquired a taste for them. Trying new foods helps develop our palates, makes us healthier, and allows us to enjoy a greater variety of foods.
7. Consider the possible unspoken meanings of "I don't like it."
"I don't like it" might really mean, "I'd rather have a piece of chocolate cake," or, "I'm not in the mood for that right now." Insist on the two-bite rule.
8. Don't become a short-order cook.
Prepare one meal for the entire family. If your child refuses to eat dinner, remain calm, stand firm, and ignore tantrums. Children will not die of hunger from skipping a meal but will likely come to the next meal with a healthy appetite and a willingness to eat what is served. Allow each family member to plan one nutritionally balanced dinner a week so everyone will have at least one dinner to look forward to.
9. Don't make a big deal when your child rejects a food.
Stay cool and reaffirm the boundaries you've established by insisting that your child eat two bites before leaving the table. Don't let your child engage you in a power struggle.
10. Do not completely forbid certain foods.
Forbidden foods can quickly become the foods of greatest desire. At school, children may be more likely to trade for foods that are forbidden at home. Allow your children to choose a special food from time to time, and let them eat it guilt free. Teach your children the difference between everyday foods and occasional foods, so they can start making healthy choices on their own.
This list is, by no means exhaustive, but it will help you establish a baseline for healthy eating that, even with the occasional transgression will remain the standard of acceptable choices.
Shown above, the clear outer container of our Bento Box - Classic 6Pc. Set in Beach, which also comes in Fruit, and our Portion Perfect Bento Box in Clear/Turquoise.
Blog re-posted from Bentology.net