If there is one bugbear of every parent, it’s the picky eater. Almost every family has one and it’s the one thing that throws up roadblocks at meal times. Creating an environment where food is something that your children enjoy is so important for stress-free mealtimes. The most important thing is that your children are eating a healthy and balanced diet and encouraging this is going to be crucial for your child and their growth.
The difficulty comes where you have a picky eater who will only eat beige food. Or cold food. Or food from the freezer, because your homemade fries in the air fryer oven just aren’t the same as the ones from the bag. I know, it’s annoying and frustrating because you’re making your best homemade meals, and your children are turning up their noses. You need to think about how to encourage your children to eat well, and below we’ve got some tips to get you started.
No Restrictions. When you sit at the table and you catch yourself saying no to dessert unless plates are clean, did you know you could be fostering bad habits for your child? Restricting certain sweet foods and fatty foods based on not wanting them to overeat is going to go against you in the future. Kids are susceptible to eating disorders and this has to be something that you avoid. Placing restrictions on food can lead to that. Instead, offer healthy swaps and allow sweet foods to be a part of their healthy diet.
Open Bowl. The fruit bowl on the table is always full, but if children don’t feel they can take without permission, there’s a problem. Opt for an open bowl policy, whereby fruits and vegetables can be eaten whenever they want them. Children will be far more relaxed about eating healthy food if they are allowed them whenever they like.
Praise, Don’t Nag. If you catch your child eating an apple, show them your approval at their snack of choice. Proud smiles, praise and an approving nod can go a long way to uplifting their self-esteem.
Cook Together. When it comes to the snacks that are under the ‘junk’ umbrella, why not cook together and create healthy versions of junk snacks. If you get them involved in making baked tortilla chips and homemade salsa, you can encourage healthy food while educating them on how to make an unhealthy snack healthier.
Control. Sometimes, children feel they have no control over their eating. It’s good to let them help you make the grocery list and the menu for the house when you write down the food you want to make for the week.
Children are intelligent, even the picky ones! The picky eaters in your home need to be taught about food; where it comes from and how to make it and the best food to eat. All you have to do is be the person educating them and give them some time to come around. It won’t happen overnight, so have patience.