Mom’s Problems with Picky Eaters

This week’s blog will be tackling a question from a reader:

“Picky eaters, any advice? Should I make a separate meal for my kids? I don’t want them to go hungry. I swear they don’t like my cooking. (The struggle is real)”
Mom of 2 picky eaters

This is a very common issue….obviously, as I had another reader write into me about the same issue in March of this year. Here is a snippet of what I wrote then:

Have you ever heard that children may need to be offered a new food 15 or more times? It’s true. Just because you offer a new food and your child refuses to try it, doesn’t mean they will never eat it.

One key asset as a parent is…patience. This may not be an easy, or short, process. Children will be more likely to try and eat new foods when there is no pressure to do so. Unfortunately, using bribes, punishments, rewards or tricks do not usually work, and may even cause children to have negative feelings towards foods and eating.

Rules to live by at the family table (aka the Feeding Relationship):
• Parents and caregivers decide what, when and where food and drinks are offered.
• Children decide how much and whether to eat.

Now, the previous question was specific to vegetables and fruit…as were my tips. For sure, my one main recommendation is to NOT make separate meals for your children. If you start now, you will never be able to stop. The whole family should eat the same foods. Over time they will hopefully learn to eat and enjoy what you eat.

Here are a few more tips for picky eating problems:
Avoid using food as bribes, punishment or rewards. This teaches your child that certain foods are better or worse than others. You and your children should enjoy all foods.
Be a positive role model. Shop for, prepare and eat a variety of healthy foods. Do not expect your children to eat a food if you’re not willing to try it first.
Involve your children in grocery shopping and meal preparation. Children who help choose and prepare their food are more likely to eat it.
No distractions at mealtime. Turn off the TV, electronics and cell phones. Eat meals as a family and talk about your day.
Offer familiar foods with new foods. Offer foods that your children like when also offering new foods. This way, if they do not like the new foods, they will still have something to eat at the meal. Keep offering new foods, even if they don’t like them. As a child gets older, try foods again that they may not have liked before. Tastes can change over time.

Above all, be patient and hang in there. Sometimes healthy eating habits take a long time to form. Know that you are teaching your children important life skills that will benefit them for the rest of their life. Keep up the good work mom!

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!