I was one of those people who said ‘my children will eat whatever we eat or they will go hungry’, then I had kids and everything went out the window. Hudson went through a picky stage and Scarlett is currently right in the middle of it. I have put together some tips of how I deal with my little picky eaters and how I encourage them to try new things.
We eat as a family every night. It’s important for children to see their parents having dinner and enjoying different types of food. There is no way they will see this if you’re eating at 9pm once they are in bed. Even if my husband works late I eat with the kids and he eats later when he gets home. It’s also a good opportunity to talk about our day and catch up as a family.
I understand it’s not always possible because life is busy but I plan in advance and have meals prepped and ready to cook so I can quickly serve them.
Serve meals ‘family style’:
We eat 90% of our meals family style (we all serve ourselves). I find my kids eat better and tend to try things when there isn’t the pressure of having it on their plate. It gives the control to them and they feel like it’s their choice to eat vegetables or try something different. Of course there are nights that they don’t eat veggies but the option is always available.
When they went to childcare I noticed all meals were served this way and decided to try it at home. It also teaches the kids how to serve themselves with utensils and tongs and table manners (eg don’t take everything on the plate as the food is for everyone).
Hide the veggies:
This is another thing I said I would never do, but actually being a parent changed me and before I knew it I was smuggling vegetables into food like a I was Schapelle heading to Bali.
I grate vegetables into everything – bolognese sauce, home made dumplings, shepherds pie, koftas, party pies, muffins, cakes, hamburgers, even my mashed potatoes are often laced with cauliflower.
If I don’t grate the vegetables I cut them up very small and put them into rice, noodles or a soup. My kids (especially Scarlett) will eat or at least try the vegetable if it’s small and doesn’t seem too big and overwhelming.
Cutting fruit and vegetables into shapes makes it more fun and interesting. I simply use little cookie cutters or my spriraliser. Also giving the vegetables names like super carrot or hulk broccoli works too. My kids are obsessed with being fast and strong, so of course they are more willing to try something that a superhero eats.
Let them help –
I know having kids in the kitchen isn’t the easiest task. I choose a times when I’m not rushed and have the patience to deal with the questions and extra mess, but it is worth it. They are often so proud of what they prepare they will eat it (or at least try it). It’s also another great opportunity to talk about food; the colour, tastes and textures and try new things.
Give them smoothies –
A breakfast smoothie is a great way to sneak in extra nutrients. This is also something the kids can help with as they can help cut the fruit and select what goes into thier smoothie. Make it colourful and fun!
Recently I started using the Activated Nutrients ‘grow up’ range and they are delicious. The ‘Grow Up’ range is an all in one daily superfood powder formulated with premium organic ingredients, designed specifically to support the nutritional needs of children’s growing brains and bodies. The products are filled with vitamins from organic wholefoods and clinically proven probiotics; giving kids a delicious dose of essential nutrients and minerals with a berry flavour. Anything with hidden nutrients that tastes like berries is a win in my book.
Having frozen fruit and berries on hand is always a lifesaver so you don’t have to go to the supermarket to get fresh fruit everyday.
Don’t make it a ‘thing’ –
Kids love attention, any sort of attention. If you make a big deal about what they don’t eat and make dinner times a battle ground they will continue to not eat or try things because deep down they love the attention. When Scarlett sits down and declares ‘I don’t want this’ I simply reply ‘ok don’t eat it, but that’s all there is’ I continue to eat my food and highlight how good it is that Hudson is eating. Often she pouts for a minute and then serves herself some food. I make a big deal if they try something new and reward good behaviour towards food. Negative behaviour is ignored.
Hope this helps with your picky little one’s if you have some tips feel free to share in the comments below.