So you’ve got yourself a picky eater? You’re not alone. In fact, this struggle is all too common. If you’re like most parents, at some point you find it’s just easier to succumb to the doe-eyed demands for junk food rather than ruining another dinner over the battle of the broccoli.
We get it.
Children are naturally born picky eaters with a fear of unfamiliar foods. According to Dr. David Ludwig, Head of Obesity Prevention at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, being picky “protects children from eating something toxic and harmful. But they’re also programmed to develop an increasingly broad set of taste preferences. If not, children would die of starvation after weaning.”
Historically, this natural objection to foods that are bitter often helped to keep young ones from wandering away from parental supervision to eat poisonous plants, which are also often bitter. Eventually, children would learn what was good to eat and develop a taste for a variety of foods to suit their dietary needs. Today, however, it’s not so easy to determine what’s good for us and what’s not due to the heavy use of sugars, fats, and salt in our food supply. And let’s face it, if your child’s taste buds grow up thinking that fast food and french fries are the way food tastes, vegetables suddenly fall into that bitter and unsafe category alongside potted plants and pesticides.
Unfortunately in today’s world, even with the best intentions, highly processed foods are introduced into children’s diets from a very early age in the form of sweetened yogurts, packaged kids’ snacks, over consumption of fruit juices, and even pediatrician recommended Cheerios that are used to develop the pincer grasp. So what’s a conscientious parent to do?
We can help. Here are the Top 5 ways to get your picky eater back on track to a lifetime of good eating:
- Don’t force kids to eat foods they don’t want. When a child refuses a food, forcing them to eat it will only cause the body to create a stress response that will be associated with that particular food for lifetime.
- Offer new foods several times. It will often take approximately 10–15 attempts to get a kid to enjoy certain foods. Be patient and gentle in your attempts.
- Allow kids to play with food. Young children usually enjoy touching, smelling, and assembling their food. Give them the opportunity to have fun during dinner time!
- Offer a variety of healthy choices. The key to getting kids to eat nutritious food is to offer variety. Children like to be in control of what they eat. Naturally, offering them a “bar” style or “build-your-own” dining experience can often encourage them to pick from a variety of healthier options without feeling like they are forced to eat a specific food.
- Let kids be the chef! Feeding your family is an exciting prospect for children. Taking them to the market so they can pick out fresh foods teaches children where our foods come from. Allowing them to help stir food or clean veggies and fruits will also make them feel included and hands on!
When you order from WT Café, your child is exposed to a variety of foods during their school day. Let us help you continue your efforts to indoctrinate healthy habits in your child. We know it takes a village to raise children, and WT Café is on your side.