Most parents have told their children to eat their vegetables so they can grow big and strong at some point. However, some children are picky eaters and won’t touch anything leafy or green. Since it’s important to ensure your kids get the proper foods, you may have to trick your picky eaters. As much as they’d love to live on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, it’s just not the best diet for their well-being. There are many recipes out there that use vegetables in a way most kids won’t notice, plus various other tips on how to get your kids to eat their dinner. Here’s how to trick a picky eater:
1. Give Several Options
My wife and I have a rule in our home: You don’t have to eat it all, but you have to try everything. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘but my kid would never go for that.’ We thought that too. Until we made that rule. Now, we give them options with every meal. We’ll usually have an entree, and 2-3 sides with every dinner. Usually 2 of the sides are veggies and 1 being a fruit or something “fun” we know they like. In order to get the fun option, they have to try at least 1 bite of everything else.
By giving multiple options with meals, we’ve introduced so many different foods to our children and they’ve found some new healthy foods they actually enjoy eating!
When you see the word condiments you probably think of things like ketchup, mustard, and mayo. However, by turning other foods into condiment like dips, sprinkles, or sauces, you can engage your picky eater in a way that may interest them in the food they’re scoffing at. If a traditional condiment works for your picky eater, let them have it! If not, try alternatives such as chopped nuts, squeezes of lemon juice, or even shredded coconut.
3. Don’t Quit
If your child is sure he or she doesn’t like whatever food you served for dinner, don’t force them to eat it. However, it can take several meals for a picky eater to adjust to a new food and a new taste. If they don’t eat it one night, try again in a few weeks and see if they are willing to give it another try.
If your picky eater braves a bite to please you, give them some praise and encouragement. Instead of responding negatively to their picky tastes, use positive reinforcement and encouragement when they decide to try something new or try another bite of the food, they are sure they hate. This may entice the to try a little more of the food.
5. Make It Fun
We were always told not to play with our food but making food fun can help encourage picky eaters to finish their meal or try a new food. See if you can take the food they dislike and turn it into a smiley face or some other fun picture for your child.
6. Hide the Veggies
Since vegetables are a problem area for most, if not all picky eaters, hiding them in foods they like is an option. Make your child a fruit smoothie but throw some spinach in the mix. They’ll only taste the fruits but still get the nutrition from the spinach! Another way to hide veggies is by making cauliflower mashed potatoes.
7. Cut Distractions
A distracted child is less likely to finish their dinner than a child with no distractions. Make sure phones, tablets, and other devices are put away when at the dinner table. Turn off any TVs that are in viewing distance from the table as well.
There are many ways to trick a picky eater. Whether you just encourage them to try one more bite or give them a food they like to top it with, you can usually get your child to try the food they dislike again. Make sure to cut distractions and make dinner fun and you may find that your picky eater begins to become slightly less picky as time goes on.