Would you like to know how to deal with picky eaters 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! She has 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 picky eaters. These tips are from my pediatrician who is old school. If what you are doing isn’t working, try this instead. It really works!
How Do Picky Eaters Develop?
Before I tell you how to deal with picky eaters, I would like to come to your world and talk about how picky eaters develop,
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.
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?
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When Is Picky Eating a Problem?
The truth about picky eating is that it usually isn’t very healthy. Long-term this can be a problem.
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, and bread turn to sugar once in the body.
Look at your ketchup too. 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.
The Psychology of Picky Eating
So what do you do? You may feel trapped and scared to try anything else. Don’t worry, I was close to this point with my firstborn too.
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.
When I was about to buy the Pediasure, I looked at the ingredients and decided to do things differently. It was in the store I had an epiphany.
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 only this type of 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.
Perhaps this is what has happened to your child too. So, how do you deal with picky eaters?
How to Deal with Picky Eaters
Here are tips on how to deal with picky eaters that my pediatrician suggested:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 he wasn’t in charge anymore. We never had problems after that.
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 foods 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, tomatoes, spinach, beets, turnips, celery, carrots, avocado, kiwi, tomatoes, star fruit, papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew, coconut, asparagus, 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 and teen 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.
How to Deal with Picky Eaters-Teen Version
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 have a lot of success on how to deal with picky eaters. 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 picky eaters 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 picky eaters? Comment below.
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