Here are some tips and suggestions to help when you have a picky eater on your hands!
1. Start EARLY
When children are exposed to and served a variety of fruits and vegetables starting from an early age, they are going to be more familiar and therefore more likely to be okay with seeing these foods on their plate.
2. Use Your SENSES
It can be easy to dismiss foods that look funny, smell different, or aren’t coming from fun packaging with superheroes or magic stars all over the box. Even if your child does not like a new food the first time they try it, they may need exposure to that same food around five to ten times, maybe even prepared in different ways, in order to actually decide if it’s one they enjoy. Encourage using all five senses: touch the food, smell the food, examine the food, hear if the food makes any noises when being cut or scooped, and lastly taste the food. Talking about the new food’s color, shape, smell, and texture can help them decide WHY they do or do not enjoy it. It can also be helpful to put this new food along with a favorite meal.
3. Learn how to find BALANCE
Help children to understand the importance of healthy staples in their meals, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Encourage the idea that treats or desserts are for special occasions and learning to say “no” to treats that aren’t their absolute favorites. If you limit junk food altogether, it can often trigger the desire to over consume it. Instead, find balance by eating mostly healthy foods. Eliminate the feeling of being deprived that children get when they are restricted from their favorite desserts or snacks altogether by focusing on overall balance.
4. Show them how to SUCCEED
Stay aware of the vocabulary used when addressing new foods, or foods that you personally have tried and don’t love. The actions, faces, and words surrounding these foods may influence the way your child looks at them, maybe before ever tasting it for themselves.
5. Have FUN
By allowing the incorporation of new foods to be fun, children may be more likely to enjoy the process. If new foods are introduced in a strict or stern way, the child may instead make their mind up right away that they do not like it. Try using a cookie cutter, cool straws, or their favorite dips along with the new food to encourage them to try it and have fun along the way.