Picky eating is a common problem among children and even adults, and it can be frustrating for caregivers trying to ensure that their loved ones are getting the nutrients they need. However, there are several strategies you can try to encourage a healthier diet and broaden your picky eater’s food choices.
Offer a variety of healthy options. Presenting a wide range of healthy foods can help your picky eater see that there are many tasty options available. Don’t be discouraged if they only try a small bite or refuse a food at first – it can take many exposures before they develop a taste for something new.
Involve your picky eater in meal planning and preparation.
Giving your picky eater a say in what they eat can make them more likely to try new foods. Let them help you plan meals, shop for ingredients, and assist with preparing and cooking.
Don’t force your picky eater to clean their plate.
Forcing your picky eater to eat everything on their plate can lead to power struggles and may even increase their resistance to trying new foods. Instead, allow them to stop eating when they feel full and offer a small snack later if they are still hungry.
Don’t use food as a reward or punishment.
Using food as a reward for good behavior or punishment for misbehavior can create a negative association with certain foods and may lead to picky eating habits. Instead, offer praise or non-food rewards for good behavior.
Be a good role model.
Children often model their eating habits after their parents, so it’s important to set a good example by eating a variety of healthy foods yourself.
Don’t make separate meals.
Making separate meals for your picky eater can reinforce their picky eating habits and make meal times more stressful for everyone. Instead, try to include at least one food that you know they will eat in each meal and encourage them to try a small bite of the other foods.
Changing picky eating habits can take time, and it’s important to be patient and persistent. Offer new foods frequently and be supportive and encouraging, rather than critical or forcing the issue.
By following these strategies and being patient and persistent, you can help your picky eater develop a healthier and more varied diet. Remember to focus on the long term and not get discouraged by setbacks – with time and effort, your picky eater can learn to enjoy a wider range of foods.