Would you like to know how to deal with a picky eater in your home? Are you tired of making multiple meals? Check out these awesome tips. They will help your child eat everything on his plate…well, almost everything.
I bet you’re thinking, “Ha! Ha! You have never met my child. This will never happen.”
Yep. I get that.
But we all start out the same way when we are born. We neither like nor dislike anything when we come out of the womb. Something changes at one point or another. From my observation, the change happens when a child becomes a toddler.
Somewhere between the age of 1-3 years old a child starts developing an opinion and says “no” to everything.
Picky eating is a normal phase, but it can be difficult when your child says “no” to food. Eating is the ultimate power trip for kids. They say “no” and you can’t do a darn thing about it.
Or can you?
In this post, I am going to tell you how to deal with a picky eater. These tips are from my pediatrician who is old school. If what you are doing isn’t working, try this instead. It really works!
What Causes Picky Eaters?
Before I tell you how to deal with a picky eater, I would like to come to your world and talk about what causes picky eaters.
There could be a few things you are doing to create a picky eater environment.
My first guess…you might be making separate meals. You have one meal for you (and your spouse), and then you make another meal for your kids.
Am I right?
And, I bet I can guess what your kid’s meals look like. Perhaps something with pasta, corn, potatoes, white rice, pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, carrots with ranch, maybe green beans (canned-most have added sugar), applesauce (with corn syrup), flavored yogurt (sugar), cheese, and peanut butter/ jelly (most have sugar) with no crust?
Oh, and ketchup (more sugar).
Some of you only wish your child ate that many foods! You may only be getting your child to eat four or five things on this list. You are stuck in a rut.
Perhaps you have taken your child to the doctor recently because he is not eating enough and not gaining weight. And that’s when the doctor intervened and suggested Pediasure to supplement his diet.
How did this happen? What went wrong?
I bet you’re wondering how to deal with a picky eater after all this.
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How Can Parents Encourage Their Kids to Be Less Picky Eaters?
The truth about picky eating is that it usually isn’t very healthy. If you want to encourage your child to eat healthier, talk about what foods they are eating. Make it fun!
If you go back and take a good look at your kid’s menu, you will notice that corn, rice, potatoes, pasta, nugget coating, pizza, commercial fruit/yogurt, ketchup, and bread turn to sugar once in the body.
Yep, lots of sugar. No wonder you have a picky eater. He is trained to eat sweet stuff. I like that too!
Now read your Pediasure can…more sugar. After water, sugar is the second ingredient, and then corn maltodextrin. Corn maltodextrin is refined sugar and a preservative. Read the rest of the ingredients in Pediasure. It includes a whole bunch of other stuff produced in a laboratory.
Did you realize this is what your child is ingesting daily if he is on Pediasure? Here is the ingredient label for Pediasure so you can see it for yourself.
Instead of Pediasure, choose whole, unprocessed foods with lots of color. Introduce them slowly, and don’t buy junk food so it’s not available. Encourage other things like playing outside instead of staying on the couch with a bag of chips.
Is It the Parent’s Fault If a Child is a Picky Eater?
I was kinda feeling like a failure because I didn’t know how to deal with a picky eater. Frankly, I was scared to do anything. But I had to do something because I knew it was my responsibility to feed my kids healthy food.
I realized I wanted to be the fun mom who made yummy food all the time. It turned out that it wasn’t the best thing for my son.
I had no one to blame but myself. I created a picky eater by feeding all the carbs (sugar) to him. He had developed a taste for sugary food.
Somehow my choices evolved into a toddler in charge of mealtimes. Ugh!
Yes, he was in charge, not me. I realized I had to shift the power back to me and retrain his taste buds to eat things other than high-carb foods. And then shift the power back to him once he learned to make good choices.
How to Deal with a Picky Eater
Here are three easy tips on how to deal with a picky eater. My pediatrician suggested doing this instead of feeding him Pediasure. You may think it’s old school, but it really works!
1. Make one meal for the whole family
That sounded simple. The only problem was I knew my child wouldn’t eat it. He said, “Don’t worry, he’ll get hungry…eventually.” He reminded me that when kids get the flu or some other sickness they will go two or three days without eating much.
What, starve my child? No way! I didn’t want to do that. It sounded like a bad mom hack.
But I listened further.
2. Don’t force your child to eat.
If he doesn’t eat it, then wrap it up and put it in the refrigerator. No snacks. The kitchen is closed unless he decides to go back to eating dinner later on.
This is how you start shifting the power back to your child. That way there are no power struggles.
3. Serve the wrapped-up meal the next morning for breakfast. Or lunch, dinner…until it is eaten.
So I tried it. And it worked.
My son would not eat it for breakfast the next morning, but he ate it for lunch. He never went a full 24 hours without food. My son didn’t wither away, go into cardiac arrest, or anything else. The only thing he did was eat healthy food.
I had to do this only a few times before he learned to make better choices. We never had problems after that. You won’t believe what he ate growing up. Find out below.
Can You Grow Out of Picky Eating?
From personal experience, I would say that I made a conscious effort to “help” my kids grow out of picky eating. I continued to offer lots of good food and had them eat at least three bites of something new.
Most of the time they ate the whole thing once they tasted it. There were a few things they didn’t like, and that is okay.
Let me give you a list of things we ate at my house (still do): collard and turnip greens, salad, cabbage, summer and winter squash, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, spinach, beets, turnips, celery, carrots, avocado, kiwi, tomatoes, star fruit, papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew, coconut, spiraled zucchini, spaghetti squash, etc.
You get the idea.
Yes, my kids actually liked them all. For real!
I did this with both of my kids when they were young. Because I addressed the problem early, they had a very diversified palate all the way through their childhood, teen, and now adult years.
It was a bonus when they visited a friend’s house. Parents loved having them over because they were easy to feed. Often the moms would ask me how to deal with a picky eater because they had kids who wouldn’t eat anything but carbs.
What Should Parents Do If They Have a Picky Eater Who Is a Teen?
If you want to know how to deal with picky eaters that are older, keep reading. There is hope for you too.
You still need to only make one meal at mealtime for the family.
You are not a short-order cook.
If your teen decides not to eat it, no big deal. Always have fruits, veggies, and protein available if he gets hungry.
Snacks: Have a basket for each child. Put one week’s worth of snacks in it. Don’t buy more than that. (Blame it on the new budget you have put in place.)
Your teen can eat the snacks all in one day or spread them out over seven days. Not your problem if it is gone before the week is up.
The point is to guide your teen to better choices when it comes to processed food. You don’t want a huge power struggle, so you may have to do it slowly over time. It is more important to have a good family mealtime than have meltdowns over food.
Just don’t make separate meals! That’s not preparing your child for the real world.
*Don’t worry about what they eat outside your home. It’s not worth trying to manage it.
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How Do I Fix My Picky Eater?
The only way to fix your picky eater is to positively reinforce new habits. You can retrain taste buds to like healthier things if you work at it.
I read once that picky eaters are not born, they are made. After the transition I saw with my own child, I have to agree.
Of course, if you don’t eat healthy food, you probably won’t be able to deal with a picky eater at your home. You are the best example for them to eat right!
I hope these tips for picky eaters helped you.
*Before you try this, ask your pediatrician if these tips on how to deal with a picky eater are okay for your child. I do not want to be the cause of any harm that could come from skipping a few meals.
Do you have tips on how to deal with a picky eater? Comment below.
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