As a leading child-feeding expert in Canada, I’ve helped thousands of families get their picky eaters to try new foods on their own without being sneaky or forceful. The most common challenge that I hear from parents is getting kids to eat vegetables. Picky eating can be a struggle but there are ways to introduce new foods to your kids.
Five Tips To Stave Off Picky Eating:
You’ve likely heard about hiding veggies in recipes. Here are five successful strategies that don’t involve sneaking beets into your brownies or squash into your mac and cheese. Use them to support your child to eat their vegetables.
1) Don’t Give Up!
Studies show that it takes on average between 10 – 30 times of seeing a new food before a child will try it and like it. Of course, this will vary from child-to-child and from food-to-food. Studies also show that parents usually give up after 5 times.
Don’t give up.
You never know when the magical time will be when your child will try (and like) a food. Instead of thinking “my child doesn’t like it” change your attitude to “my child doesn’t like it yet”. Patience is a difficult but a necessary quality if you’ve got a child who struggles with picky eating.
2) Role Model
As the saying goes “actions speak louder than words”. When was the last time that you tried a new food? Or, re-tried a food that you didn’t like previously? If you want your child to try new foods, be a “trying new food” role model. Picky eating can be changed when parents are involved in the process.
3) Not Just Dinner
I feel bad for poor, old dinner. In many families, it’s the meal where we most want kids to behave well. But it’s also the only time of day when kids are presented with the challenge of new foods and picky eating really takes effect.
Instead of only serving vegetables at dinner, serve them at other times of the day. Lunch, snacks, and even breakfast are all fantastic opportunities to present kids with new foods.
4) Young Kids Have More Sensitive Taste Buds
The taste and texture differences of a vegetable, when it’s prepared different ways, is particularly evident to young taste buds. For example, raw broccoli is very different than steamed broccoli, which is very different than broccoli in a stir-fry, which is different again from broccoli in a casserole. Take advantage of this. If your child hasn’t liked (or even tried) a vegetables prepared in one way, don’t stop making it in other preparations.
5) Obvious Veggies.
Often parents ask me my opinion about sneaking in vegetables. Studies show that kids do get more servings of vegetables in families where they add pureed vegetables to dishes. And, most of us could use to eat more veggies, so exploring new dishes that include veggies is a fantastic idea!
However, if all you’re serving your child is mac and cheese and brownies, all they’re learning is to eat mac and cheese and brownies. You may know that there’s squash in the mac and cheese and beets in the brownies, but your child doesn’t.
If you choose to sneak in veggies, also be sure to serve obvious veggies (e.g. serve steamed broccoli on the side of that mac and cheese). Even if your child doesn’t eat the obvious ones, you’re role modeling choosing to eat vegetables, an important lesson for life-long healthy eating habits.
For More Picky Eating Resources, Check Out:
- Why Deconstructed Meals Can Make Mealtime Less Stressful
- Don’t Give Up On Your Kids Eating Vegetables
- Getting Picky Eaters to Try New Foods Using the Rotation Rule