Being parents becomes really tricky when our babies start growing up, and they know that they have the freedom of saying no to things. The same behavior shows in their eating habits as well. When the toddlers become pre-schoolers, they try to test their limits by choosing the food that they want to eat. We as parents want pickiness at the table to be the last thing after an entire long day of work. That is why it is easy to order a burger or pizza from the home delivery store and get over with the meal time without any fuss from the kids. But we are here to solve this problem. Making your kids eat the green leafy veggies is not going to be a battle anymore. The first thing you should know is why your kids are being picky eaters.
The things that most kids shove aside in their plates are because they taste bad to them. While growing up, kids want high-calorie foods. Some people are more sensitive to bitter tastes. That is the reason your kid dislikes broccoli and bitter gourd. The growth of kids slows down after the age of 2. So they will have less appetite on certain days. But that is normal until the time they show healthy growth pattern. Also if your kids eat chips or have juice before lunchtime, they will not be able to finish their entire plate that day. Kids start asserting their independence when they grow up. It is a part of their natural behavior. So when they push away that plate during dinner, they are simply learning to say "No". All of these apart, you should be careful if your child shows signs of allergy or upset stomach after eating certain foods. They might be having a medical problem due to which they are showing an aversion to food altogether. So, notice the pattern and talk to the child about it. We will be help you with deal with picky eating in your children.
#1. Mix Healthy With Likeable Food
If your kids love to gorge on pizza and burger, you should not worry about their health. You just have to think of some tricks of slipping healthy food in the form of their favourite snacks. If your kids tell you they want pizza, make one at home instead of ordering from the fast food chain. Now you have the control to put the veggies on the pizza base and cover it with the generous garnish of cheese. They will be enjoying their favourite snack as a healthy veggie food without even realizing. The same can be done with burgers too. You can fill sliced up salad inside the buns and serve it to the kids to eat to their heart's content.
#2. Include Kids In Food Prep
Kids mostly do not eat some food because it looks bad or smells bad. That is why you should involve kids to help you with everything it takes to cook a meal. This way they will learn that it is not so bad. They will also feel ownership over the meals. They are less likely to leave the food on the plate when they have cooked it themselves. Take your kids to grocery shopping where they can learn the variety of food in the market. By being involved in the food preparation, there are better chances that they will like their food too.
#3. Don't Keep Snacks At Home
Kids need some quick munchies when they come home from the playground, that is your time of serving them healthy food. But you have to make sure that you do not have junk food like chips and soda kept at home. Instead, keep some healthy snacks available in store so that the kids pick and eat them when they feel the hunger pangs. Keep fruits and juice to satiate their hunger. The kids might resist in the beginning, but when they do not have many options, they will resort to eating the apples kept in the basket.
#4. Have Proper Meal Schedule
You should try to set proper time to have each meal and the snacks. This will avoid overlapping of snacks and meals. The kids will also feel the urge to eat if the timings are arranged properly. Most kids will eat at mealtime if they know that they won't be served food after this time. This will keep a check on their pickiness and control it too.
#5. Do Not Force To Finish The Plate
As we already mentioned in the article above that kids have less appetite at the age of 2. So you do not need to worried if your child chose to not finish the meal once a week. It might be simply because they ate something just before dinner time. So they feel full already. You do not have to worry about your child being a picky eater if they leave the food unfinished sometimes. They might not be just that hungry.
#6. Include Treats Too
Removing the unhealthy foods entirely from your kid's menu is not the solution to make them eat all the healthy food served. This way they will be overeating when they get the opportunity to get treats. So once in a month, you can serve them with a scoop of their favourite ice cream or any cake they like. Make it look like an incentive of eating healthy that month. Keep a balance of serving healthy and junk.
#7. Set A Good Example
Kids often learn from their parents who they see as their role model in life. Show the kids from the start that you love all the food items equally. This way they will learn not to discriminate the foods as good and bad. So if you do not eat spinach, you cannot expect your tiny tot to like eating it. Set a good example for them and eat the healthy stuff with them.
#8. Let Them Plan The Menu
Let your kids plan the food that should be cooked in the house once in every week. This will give them some control. They will feel like they have a say in the house too. Do not interfere in their decisions when they decide something. It is another way of giving an incentive if they act like good kids the whole week and eat all veggies.
#9. Stay Away From Distractions
We should keep some ground rules when it comes to eating meals. The very first one of them should be not eating in front of the television. Turn down that idiot box. It makes the kids slow eaters and they will eventually leave half of what's on their plate. Distraction also includes any games or cell phones. So, ensure that nobody uses any of these during meals. You can choose to play some light music to keep the peace in the room. Without distractions, kids who are picky eaters will be more focused on their plate. They will be able to finish their food at a good pace.
#10. Have Clear Rules
Being parents, you have to play the villain at times and have some fixed rules of eating in the house. Do not offer junk food to munch on to the kid if they leave their meal on the plate. For you, it might be a way to keep them from going hungry, for the kids, it is a way of escaping healthy food in the future too. So if the kids leave their meal, let them be or if you want, you can offer them to eat a fruit instead. This will make them learn a lesson for the next time. Also, it will keep them from asking junk food whenever you cook a vegetable they do not like.
#11. Make An Attractive Presentation Of Food
Children when young get influenced by things that look good. That is why they will often want the cereal whose box is the most attractive irrespective of what is inside. So play the same trick as the marketers do. Make even the most boring food look like a play for the kids. It might consume a little extra time of yours, but the effort will make even the picky kids finish the food just because you made it look like a fancy star or smiley.
#12. Teach About Nutrition
Let your kids know the benefits of eating particular food items if they are picky eaters. Do not make it sound like a boring class or they won't learn anything. Do creative things like hanging a nutrition chart in the kitchen. You can also get fridge magnets shaped like veggies. They will learn to eat those things without any fuss this way.
Kids are little bundles of joy. We hope that these tips will help you in dealing with kids if they are picky eaters. Let us know if you have any further suggestion in the comment box below.
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