If you find yourself dealing with a picky eater on a regular basis, you’re no stranger to looking for new tips and tricks to keep mealtimes from turning into a showdown. You know by now the Clean Plate Club doesn’t work—neither do threats or guilt. You know the advice about not serving them a separate meal, that everyone at the table together is the way to go—yeah, in a perfect world where everyone’s schedule is the same! Tips for dealing with picky eaters abound wherever they’re serving up parenting advice, sure, but here are some additional ways to get your littles excited about food and cooking.
Variety may be the spice of life, but for dealing with picky eaters it could mean the difference between a mealtime fight and dinner table fun. Not every has the time or resources to put out a veritable cornucopia of food at every (or most, or some) mealtime. By providing nutritious options at mealtime, young eaters are able to try new foods and create balanced meals. Some options to serve up:
A favorite tip for dealing with picky eaters is to get them invested in the foods they seem to shy away from. Here are some easy ways to start:
We don’t always love—or even like—new foods the first time we try them, and we shouldn’t expect that out of picky eaters, either. A popular adage is that it takes 10 to 11 tries for a picky eater to learn to like something new, so keep trying with them! Different preparations of the ingredient in question may do the trick. Some folks even suggest not fielding questions like, “What’s for dinner”—it gives the picky eater you’re dealing with a chance to hear something they don’t like and catastrophize.
No, this doesn’t mean plying your picky eater with sweet or savory treats to quell grousing at mealtimes. Snack time is a great opportunity to introduce young palates to new flavors and to make healthy options fun and snackable. It also goes a long way toward setting boundaries; if junk isn’t on the menu for regular snack time, it’s likely it won’t be on the menu for a sit-down meal, either. A selection of fruits and veggies, nuts, cheeses, crackers—think a little one’s version of a charcuterie plate—is a chance for your picky eater to get used to new ingredients in a bite-sized way (and all of these things can be packed small and travel well for lunches and afternoons out).
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