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Feeding Picky Eaters

Feeding Picky Eaters – beware the beige foods

Pasta, bread, French fries, and chicken fingers are often some of the top favourites of young children. However comforting, this love of beige food can leave their diet nutritionally void. What is a parent to do with the child that loves beige food?

There is nothing more frustrating than preparing a healthy meal and having it either refused or worse, thrown on the floor. But for some parents, this is a daily reality. Here are my best tips if you have a picky eater:

Understanding their tastes

Despite what it may feel like at the end of a long day, these kids are not trying to make their parent’s life more difficult. Some children are just naturally more sensitive to the different foods. Try to avoid having a battle, instead begin by understanding what they don’t like – is it texture, colour, smell, taste? This will get you closer to some ideas that will both support their needs, while encouraging them to try new foods.

Avoid comparing what they ate in the first year to what they eat today.  Infants have an extreme growth spurt that slows down dramatically as they enter early childhood. Their mind and body need less food during this period and tastes can begin to change. They also thrive off of making their own choices, and mealtime isn’t any different.

Make it Fun

Mealtime for both you and your child should be enjoyable. Be silly. Have carrot crunching contests, cut vegetables into almost tiny pieces or fun shapes using cookie cutters, experiment with fruit or veggie kabobs or taste how dips change the taste of food. The key is to make foods interactive and keep your child engaged while eating.

Encourage Participation

Make meals a family affair. Bring out the recipe books and plan the weekly menu with your family. Young children love to stir, add in ingredients and put their spin on food, so cultivate your budding chef and get them into the kitchen. Instead of just limiting this to desserts, add ingredients to the slow cooker for a stew (let them choose the veggies!), or have fun digging your hands in and making a meat loaf.

Think Bite Size

Children are natural nibblers. Work with this eating style and provide smaller amounts on the plate. Add finger foods to meal and offer bite-sized portions of a variety of foods. Adopt the bento box mentality! Encourage your child to food sample and avoid overwhelming them by filling up their plate with one item.

Remember the hope is to make mealtime enjoyable again while building their appreciation for different foods. Making meal times more than just about the food being eaten, is a good place to start. Bring your family together at the dinner table and have fun experimenting with new foods prepared with love.