Meals with children should be a nice family time, but it can be a battle and upsetting for all concerned. Fernanda Langhammer comes up with tips to make the experience less stressful.
Picky eaters are a mother’s worst nightmare (well, maybe not the worst, but certainly one of the worst). At least it was mine with my daughter. She is 11 years old and the difficult meal times are long past, but it was hard work to get where we are now. Here are some tricks that I’ve used with her that achieved good results.
Be a Role Model
Kids copy everything adults do, even unconsciously, so if you are always on a diet or eating big portions, they will think this is the way to deal with food. If you or your partner don’t like vegetables and keep saying it out loud in front of the kids, they probably won’t want to eat them either. Try to keep your preferences to yourself; this way you don’t influence them negatively.
Get Kids Cooking
There’s nothing better than to let your child learn about his/her food up close and cooking is a fun way to do it. Allow them to participate in the whole process such as planning the meal, doing the grocery list, choosing the produce and prepping the vegetables – washing and cutting. Putting a salad together is an easy way to get them involved. They will be more interested in trying new things when they have played an important role in preparing them.
Sneak in Healthy Choices
There is a whole universe of online recipes that can help you make healthier cakes and treats. You can shred zucchini into muffin dough or cook pasta and beans with spinach leaves in the water. Even if they don’t eat the cooked leaves, at least some of the vitamins are absorbed by the other elements or left in the water. Any small addition of vegetables to kids’ meals counts.
I Don’t Like…
My daughter hates the texture of onion; she likes the taste, but not the little pieces. In the beginning I tried to avoid putting it on food, then I would blend it, until I decided that I wasn’t going to hide it any more. At first she used to take forever to remove them; it was a lot of work. Now, she only takes out the big pieces she sees. I learned that I shouldn’t change my cooking style, but rather she should adapt.
Never Give Up
Another important attitude-changer was to cut a selection of fruits, three or four different types, and put them in front of her on a regular basis. It took some time for her to start touching them, and when she did it was just the bananas. After some time the bananas and melon, until eventually she would eat any fruit. Not giving up on offering fruit, even when she wasn’t eating a single piece, was the best way to change her eating habits, in my opinion.