Parents ask this one all the time.
Here are some tips from pediatric naturopathic Dr. Meg Hammel of Children’s Naturopathic Center of Colorado in Denver, CO.
I’m pretty sure we are all picky in our own ways, but when it comes to our children, being picky with foods can potentially lead to an unhealthy lifestyle (and vital nutrient deficiencies). This is why parents and guardians must understand the terms of being a picky eater and do their best to support a healthy and diverse diet for their children. We want our kids to grow healthy and be in good shape so that they can be happier and energetic.
Where Does “Being Picky” Come From?
When children are very delicate with the foods they consume, it can just be your kid being a kid; exploring textures and flavors. As far as outside influences that provoke children to be choosy, these can be affected by personal traits, parental control (or no parental control), social influences and maternal eating patterns.
The picky phase is very normal, so don’t freak out! We just want to make sure it stays a short phase only and not a habit. It won’t really help to become a forceful, strict parent either. This is why we are offering these tips/solutions to help with “the pickys”.
Top Tips For Picky Eaters
The best tip we can give you is to be a good example. If a picky child has a picky mom or dad, things will likely not go well for that child’s future diets. Make sure to eat the rainbow of veggies, fruits, quality grains, and organic when possible.
Other suggestions are:
- Encourage curiosity about food. Your kitchen is your experiment lab.
- Let your child pick the produce when shopping for groceries. Take them to farmer’s markets and pick-your-own local farms.
- Grow your food at home. Gardens are a great way to introduce kids to vegetables in a way that engages them in the process.
- Teach your child how to prepare meals and let them help.
- Set the example – kids eat what they see their caregivers eating. Parents, you have to eat your veggies too!
- Offer choices (broccoli or carrots for dinner?).
- Enjoy dinner time with the fam. Fun conversations with fun companies always make food taste better.
- Turn off the screens. Distracted eating is not mindful eating.
- Equal meals. Serve the same meal as for adults and the kiddos.
- Try changing the texture of a food helps (add a bit of batter for a crispiness, or try cutting the food in a different way).
- DO NOT offer dessert as a reward. Why? Because then you make it seem like dessert is the best food.
- Parents, take good care of yourselves. Wagering food with your stubborn toddler takes a toll. Eat, rest, and play. You will be a better parent for it!
Picky Eater Recipes
These recipes may or may not do the trick, but it’s better if we try them out. Tons of recipes can be found but the ones you can get really creative with are these:
- Crispy french toast with cream cheese spread and peaches
- Chicken bacon ranch tater tot casserole
- Classic meatballs
- Pizza noodle bake
- Healthy carrot cake smoothie with rice cakes and peanut butter
- BLT wraps
- Skillet nachos
- Slow-cooked loaded potato soup
- Teriyaki vegetable stir fry
- Broccoli, rice and sausage dinner
- Veggie fritters
Hopefully these tips are helpful for you and your family. Our wish is to see children live healthfully, so if you have wanted to add naturopathic care to your child’s wellness plan, contact Dr. Meg at Children’s Naturopathic Center of Colorado.