Almost every family has one – that one child that seems to turn his nose up at every meal. While this may leave you wanting to pull your hair out, there are ways to get picky eaters to eat a meal without forcing them. Whether it’s allowing her to pick the meal or hiding veggies in tonight’s dinner, you can feed your picky eater a healthy meal.
1. Allow Him to Pick the Meal
One of the simplest things you can do is to allow the picky eater to choose what he’d like to eat. Sit down each week and offer options for that week’s meals. When you involve your child in the process, he’s more likely to want to eat the meals he chose. Do whatever it takes to get him excited about those meals that HE chose. Make it feel like he’s the chef in the house, but also be careful what options you give him each week or this could turn out badly.
2. Revamp Her Favorite Dishes
Does your child love Mexican food or pizza? Look for ways to make these foods at home so that you can control the ingredients. For example, if she loves burritos, make bean burritos with fat-free refried beans, green onions, and a small amount of cheese and sour cream on a tortilla. You can try and use a whole wheat tortilla, but picky eaters can be thrown off when the look of the food changes.
3. Hide Those Veggies
If the problem with your picky eater is vegetables, hide the veggies in any way possible. It might be a homemade pasta sauce loaded with vegetables that your puree before serving or meatballs loaded with pureed onions and bell peppers. Some parents mash up the cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, but even some parents have trouble getting on board with that trick.
4. Get Creative
Another great tip is to make the meals as creative as possible. If your kids love Happy Meals, keep the boxes on hand from previous meals and make homemade Happy Meals with healthier burgers. You can even add small toys from the Dollar Tree if you like. Another tip is to cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Dips are also a big hit. Anything a kid can dip seems to be a success.
5. Remove Temptation
If there are no hot dogs in the house, you truly can not make any hot dogs for them. It’s as simple as that. We try to minimize packaged foods that are not healthy and instead stock lots of fruits and veggies. When they’re truly hungry, they can have healthy choices available to them rather than chips or cookies, although we do enjoy a good treat now and then in moderation.
6. Cook Together
Last, but not least, get your child in the kitchen. When a child has the chance to make part of the meal, she takes pride in it. Let her pick out the recipe, go shopping together, and cook the meal together. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this makes.
You don’t have to bribe your children to eat their dinner. The real trick is thinking outside the box and getting your kids involved in the meal planning and preparation. Before you know it, your picky eater will be wanting to try more and more foods and you’ll have a lot less stress at dinnertime.