As parents, we always want to do what is best for our children. That’s easier said than done though, especially when it comes to food. Having a picky eater can be one of the most frustrating experiences for both parents and children. The good news is there are ways to make it a little easier and relieve the pressure.

1. Don’t keep junk food or food that you DON’T want your child to eat in the house: You might not think this is a big deal, but it is. If you are trying to get your child/children to eat healthy the last thing you want them looking at is a pantry full of food that you don’t want them to eat. Out of sight, out of mind. So, lets remove the cookies, the chips, the crackers, the processed food, the desserts from the house. I’m not saying forever, but I am saying until your child and the rest of the family is eating a well balanced “diet.” I use the word diet for lack of a better word. This is all about a healthy lifestyle, not a diet.

2. Lead by example: Our kids are always watching us. Even when we think they aren’t….they are. So, if you want them to eat healthy, you need to eat healthy. They might not jump on board right away, but eventually they will. They want to do what mom and dad are doing, so set a good example.

3. Make it a positive experience not a negative experience: When trying to get your child to try a new fruit or vegetable or chicken or whatever it might be. Don’t threaten them with things like “You can’t leave the table until you eat your veggies” or “No TV for you tonight if you don’t try this” Take the positive approach of “You can have 10 extra minutes of TV time tonight if you try your spinach” or “You can stay up a little later tonight” I’m not huge on bribing kids but sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do. JUST DON’T BRIBE WITH DESSERT!!!! Thats a big no no, it goes against what you are trying to accomplish, which is getting your child to eat healthier food.

4. Let your kid be the boss: That’s right, let them tell YOU what they want to try. Take your kids levitra healthcarewell grocery shopping with you, let them pick out one fruit and/or one vegetable that looks interesting to them. This way they area already more likely to at least give it a taste or a lick at the very least, because they picked it out.

5. Get them in the kitchen cooking with you: Cooking in the kitchen with mom and dad gives kids a sense of pride. They feel like they got to help make something and they are excited to try their new creation. The more fun and exciting you make food, the more likely they are to try it.

There are a few other tips and tricks that you can try in addition to these basic ones. I think it’s really important to explain to kids the benefits of eating foods that are good for them and on the other side of that coin is explain what happens when they eat foods that are bad for them. This gets a bit tricky as you want to tread very lightly when talking about a child’s weight. When I explain things to my 7 year old son, Dominic, I say things like:

“Eating your veggies makes you stronger, they help you run faster, protein gives you strong muscles, eating sugar and junk food will slow you down when you are skateboarding and make it harder for you to perform tricks because your body won’t have enough fuel to do them.”

Healthy Kids, Tips for Picky Eaters, Healthy Families
Dom eating Kale Nachos on set of my cooking show Fixate

It’s important to always keep it positive with our kids. They are our future and we want it to be a positive one, we want them to have a positive relationship with food. I’ve also let Dominic watch some documentaries on food with me. We’ve watched Super Size Me, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and Fed Up.

Lastly you can find recipes that allow you to “hide” veggies in things like sauces and soups, add them to smoothies or try making popsicles and ice-cream out of fruit.

No matter what remember to have patience with your kids and with yourself.

For more on creating healthy habits in the home, check out my past blog post The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables.

I’d love to hear from you guys. What are your tips when it comes to dealing with picky eaters? Leave them in the comments below!

 
 
Your partner in health,
 
 
Autumn Calabrese

7 Comments

  • Erica

    Loving this kids section of your website! My 5 year old likes to do your workouts with me and randomly asked to eat an apple (something he never asks for) while we were doing Country Heat the other day because he said he wants to be healthy. The food pyramid here was a good visual reminder for him what things are healthy and seeing a picture of Autumn’s son eating vegetables was also exciting to him 🙂 I also was encouraged by your picky eater article. Thanks!

  • Sarah byer

    Would love to see any more tips! My fiance has horrible eating habits and is super picky. It’s difficult to try to get them to learn to make their own healthy choices.

    • Grace Pabian

      My husband had really horrible eating habits when we first got married. He fended for himself a lot when he was a kid, so he grew up eating fast meals and a lot of sandwiches. He is also about 2x the size of me (he is more than a foot taller than me and much broader build) so he eats a lot more of these sandwiches and “smelts” (bread with melted cheese and sometimes hot sauce). As I tried to make him supper once in a while with chicken, veggies, and rice, he slowly started to incorporate it into his meal. It helped that I made it for him and he didn’t have to do a lot of the prep. We purchased a “simply steamer” from Epicure and it has been amazing for us both, he is able to pour frozen veggies in it, and sometimes a piece of chicken breast and steam it in 5-6 minutes and then his meal is ready. Trust me, I understand the struggle and though he still eats smelts sometimes, he usually has some steamed veggies next to him. He also has found that he really likes steamed broccoli and steak “salads.

  • Brian Shepherd

    I am a VERY picky eater myself. (Which is why I LOVE making Shakeology recipes!)

    Anyway, one thing I occasionally do is mix a bunch of different fruits in the blender with water and ice to make a smoothie. It’s much easier for me to get my fruits in. As a kid, I would much rather drink them than eat them. Also, it’s alot of fun to experiment with combinations and watching the blender grind it up! (I’m still searching for a vegetable to add that won’t turn the color of everything brown) 🙂

  • Rachel

    This is really great for me as I work with my 9yr old with learning good eating habits with me. Hardest part for me is because I’m divorced I can’t guarantee his dad does the same. which means everything I do counts double?

  • Susan Meehan

    My husband I teach our kids what food does and doesn’t do! We are loving parents and our kids know how beautiful we think they are but we do say “if you eat crappy chances are your going to feel crappy and not feel good about yourselves”. They play sports and my husband tries to teach them what will fuel their bodies for endurance during soccer etc.
    thanks for sharing this article!

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for sharing Autumn! I am a grade primary teacher in Nova Scotia, Canada (the kids are 4-5 years old when they start in September). I don’t have any children of my own, but see many snacks and lunches during the day. So many children come with sweets, chips or processed food everyday. My rule in the classroom is always one healthy snack before a treat. The problem is, some kids only have treats. This year I am going to start a program once a month where parents can send 5$ for the week and I’ll provide the recess snack (different fruits and vegetables) for that week. I’m going to have the kids help wash, cut (with a plastic knife) and prepare the food. I’m hoping parents and students alike will enjoy this. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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