A Guide For Helping Your Picky Eater

August 31, 2022

Let’s be honest, as a kid, eating chocolate and sweets was much more enjoyable than broccoli. However, good nutrition is crucial as a child grows and develops. Food is a source of energy and offers essential nutrients that help build healthy bones, reduce infections, strengthen the body’s cells, and may decrease the chances of certain illnesses later in life. Helping your picky eater mature through their dinosaur nugget and macaroni phase is sure to pay off.  

Tips For Parents Of Picky Eaters

Some children have no issues trying new foods, while others would be happy to stick to pasta, rice, and bread. Here at Holly Spring Pediatrics, we understand the importance of a balanced diet. However, getting your picky eater to expand their food horizons can be difficult. It is important to keep this a positive experience so your child does not develop a negative relationship with food. If mealtime has become a struggle in your household, here are some tips and tricks for helping your picky eater.

Rotation Is Key

When serving only specific foods or food groups, your child may develop preferences based on their exposure. However, rotating foods and offering new ones daily prevents your child from eating in a comfort zone or teaching them to expect only certain foods. While rotating in and out different foods, ensure you keep serving specific foods over time. Exposing kids to food means offering it to them more than once. And remember, if you never serve it, they’ll never eat it. 

Educate Your Child

One way to get your child excited about foods they may not initially be interested in is by educating them on what food does for their bodies and overall health. When trying new foods, inform your child that the color of vegetables is caused by chlorophyll, which helps heal wounds and boost energy. Or, you can find fun facts about the foods you introduce, like broccoli contains more protein than steak! Showing your child the benefits of food may help them become more adventurous. 

Don’t Force Food

Although dealing with a picky eater can be exhausting and discouraging, it is essential never to force food on your child. Pressuring your child to eat foods they don’t want or don’t like can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food down the line. In fact, studies show that forcing children to eat food they don’t want sparks tension at mealtimes and can even damage the parent-child relationship. Instead, try maintaining a positive and encouraging attitude and be wary of crossing boundaries. 

Set A Good Example

Kids are often a product of their environment, and the childhood impulse to follow their parents’ behavior is strong. This means setting a good example regarding a healthy diet is essential. Be sure to include the primary food groups in your everyday meals: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 

Prepare Only One Meal

According to the Child Mind Institute, preparing more than one meal for picky eaters sets a bad precedent and doesn’t encourage children to try new foods. In fact, preparing more than one meal reinforces the idea that they don’t have to try new things. If your child knows they will not get their “safety foods” if they refuse dinner, they will be more open to trying new foods.

Stick With It

Getting a picky eater to try new things is no small task. It is necessary to continue offering new foods and even foods your child has already disregarded. It can take up to 15 times for a child to try a food and like it. Don’t give up!  

The team at Holly Springs Pediatrics knows how important proper nutrition is for your child’s health and wellbeing. We offer comprehensive care for children, including routine visits and services for specific issues and conditions. If you have concerns about your child’s nutrition or eating habits, call us at (919) 249-4700 or request an appointment.