Friday, June 5, 2015

Healthy Ideas for Picky Eaters

People who have met my children, particularly my son, have heard tales of their pickyness. He is very fortunate to have been born in the time and place that he was, otherwise he would probably be a early childhood mortality statistic. As a toddler we had to put him on appetite stimulants, he was that determined not to eat. Keeping them alive this long, I've read dozens of books and articles about trying to get kids to eat healthy foods. Here are some ideas that have worked for me, they may not
work for everyone, but they are certainly worth a shot.

  1. Be an example- When your kids see you eating healthy foods, they are more likely to try it themselves. My youngest has no recollection of our family eating 'the standard American diet'. Most of the time if she sees me eating a salad, she would rather have that versus what my older kids are requesting.
  2. Dip- For some reason kids find foods you can dip very appealing. And why not? Dip=party food. It can be healthy dip too! My girls love carrots in hummus. Even Mr. Picky himself will sometimes eat carrots in ranch. Whole grain tortilla chips in salsa are a big hit at our house, as are cut veggies in tzatziki. Roasted cauliflower in peanut sauce is a winner too.
  3. Get them to help. Kids are more interested in eating things that they helped purchase, grow and/or prepare. 
  4. Get their input. Ask them 'What fruits and vegetables would you like to eat?'
  5. Keep dried fruit, nuts or popcorn in your car/purse. More often than not, when we are on the go, the kids complain of being hungry. If they are really hungry, and not just bored, they'll eat the healthy snacks that I keep on me. If not they can wait.
  6. Always have cold water available. My kids will always choose the ice water over the room temperature juice. Before we leave the house, I try to make sure that every kid has their respective water bottles and they have fresh ice water in them.
  7. Keep trying, keep exposing them to healthy foods. Try exposing them to foods prepared in different ways. I was thoroughly amazed when one day I roasted Brussels sprouts and my oldest couldn't get enough of them. She ate half a pan, when the week before she wouldn't touch them.
  8. Mix veggies in smoothies. I try not to rely completely on this. I want my kids to learn to eat healthy whole foods, but I am not above blending spinach, beets or carrots into smoothies (or soups or sauces).
  9. Stick to your rules. In our house, if my kids want a treat they have to have a fruit or a vegetable first, and they need to have eaten whatever the previous meal was.
  10. Make it fun. Arrange foods into faces or use cookie or sandwich cutters to give the food fun shapes.
  11. Stay positive. Don't get angry and keep encouraging them to try new things
I can't say that my kids always willingly eat healthy foods, but we have made so much progress!

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