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If you’ve got a picky eater in your household, try putting some of these strategies from the nutritionists at the American Dietetic Association to the test. In no time, you may see your so-called picky eater blossom into an epicurean adventurer.
Skip the Power Struggle: When your kid won’t even taste something you know he’ll probably adore, or if he isn’t eating as much as you think he should, it can be tempting to force the issue. Don’t, experts advise. Forcing kids to take a bite or to eat something they don’t want to can just compound the problem and lead to even more finicky eating.
Avoid Labels: Sometimes calling a child a picky eater can backfire when she starts thinking of herself that way. The truth is that many toddlers will simply grow out of selective eating habits if you give them enough time, so it’s best not to call attention to the issue.
Be a Repeat Offender: If your child refuses to eat a specific food the first time you serve it, don’t automatically assume that she hates it. It’s more likely that she’s intimidated by trying a “new” thing. But after seeing carrots on her plate six or seven times, she might feel comfortable enough to add it to her list of acceptable foods.
Tap Into Peer Pressure: Do you know what your child’s friends are eating? Sometimes, seeing another child eating a new or unfamiliar food is all it takes to get your kid to try it. Ask what his friends bring to school for snacks or lunch, or make a point to schedule a mealtime playdate and use peer pressure to your advantage.
Go Shopping Together: Involve your child in your shopping routine so he feels like he’s part of your menu choices at home. Of course, as the parent, you are ultimately in charge of what makes it into the cart, but allowing a child to choose between three kinds of fruit, for example, or which color of cheese he or she would like to try can work wonders. Another strategy: Have your child pick a healthy new “food of the week” for everyone in the family to try.
Get Cooking: Letting your kids help with meal preparation can also help build interest in what is on the table. Even small children can pour an ingredient that Mom or Dad has measured out, or check on cookies or bread through the window in the oven door. As children get older, they can take on bigger roles, such as planning and preparing a well-balanced meal one night a week.
Set an Example: Eat a balanced, healthy diet yourself! Kids pick up cues from their parents. So, if you grudgingly eat your greens, avoid certain food groups or pick junk food over healthier snacks, chances are your child will do the same.
What food does your picky eater surprisingly love? Chime in below!