COVID-19 vaccine: Get the latest updates on children’s doses, booster shots and more. Learn More

Top Tips to Outsmart Your Picky Eaters

A child looking a parent holding out a piece of broccoli on a fork with a repulsed look on his face

Do you have picky eaters with bird-like appetites in your family?  Even though there’s no official definition, picky eating in children could be defined as an unwillingness to eat enough of familiar foods or to try new food choices. To encourage them to eat enough healthy food, you might have to outsmart them.

Have a Strategy

You will need some strategies up your sleeve to help you when the inevitable demands for junk foods come. Your child is hungry because she only picked at her last meal. She might consequently demand food between meals, but this only continues the vicious cycle. Read on to discover various helpful tips to help address this scenario.

Plan Meals and Snacks

Plan your meals ahead of time, including healthy snacks for between meals to ward off hunger pangs. This will rule out having to “give in” and let your kids eat junk food. Kids usually respond positively to this, as they are still being allowed to eat and not going hungry until the next meal.

Keep Foods Simple

Simple, everyday foods are mostly more popular with younger kids than “adult foods.”  They tend to love finger foods such as sandwiches, vegetables with dip, simple pasta dishes, or sliced fruit.

Hide the Veggies and Fruit

Many kids don’t eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables and fruit. Hiding vegetables in other foods is a sneaky strategy, but it usually works unless you have one of those kids who can detect vegetables in everything. Pureed vegetables can be hidden in pasta, soups, smoothies, and cakes. Another idea is to mince zucchini or spinach to sprinkle over pizza. Then cover with cheese to hide the evidence.

Let Your Kids Choose

Occasionally, give your kids choices of what to eat. You have to ensure that all the options are acceptable. Then the child will feel like he has a part in the decision of what to have for meals. This could also be a way to introduce him to more variety in his choices.

Fun Food

Search the internet for fun ways to prepare food. Make mini landscapes on their plates. Rice and mashed potatoes make effective mountains. Various other vegetables or meat can be cut into rock shapes. What child can resist eating a broccoli tree? Use your imagination and see what you can come up with. Your kids will have some ideas of their own, too. Before you know it, your picky eaters will be having fun and best of all, eating and enjoying their meal.

Don’t Serve Strong-Tasting or Spicy Food

It has been scientifically proven that our number of taste buds decreases with age. That’s why adults usually appreciate stronger tasting and spicier foods than children. As they taste with a higher intensity than adults, it’s best to serve them foods with a blander taste. As they get older, gradually increase the amount of strong tasting and spicy foods you serve them.

Use Plate Dividers

Some kids don’t like the different foods on their plate to touch. Sometimes this can be the root cause of picky eating and not the food itself. Silicon plate dividers that suction to the plate, keeping the different foods separate could be a solution to this problem.

Picky eating is mostly a passing phase that many children go through, which most seem to outgrow over time. Armed with these tips, you can endeavor to make this phase as short as possible.

Tomah Health