Healthy Kids - Summer 2021


Six Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

Encourage kids to explore food. Let them investigate: poke it, cut it open and so on. The goal is to become more comfortable with a food so the next time they encounter it, it won’t be as scary. Limit distractions. Toys, TVs and tablets take kids’ attention away from the meal and the people they’re sharing it with. Get kids involved in the kitchen. Give them age-appropriate tasks to help prepare a meal, such as stirring batter, cracking eggs or snapping off the ends of green beans. Kids can learn about foods and how they change in the cooking process without the pressure of having to eat them. Kids can be involved in growing or buying food, too. It’s a great way to make them feel like they have a little bit of control over the situation. No tricks. It’s okay if a child doesn't always know every ingredient in a dish, but if you intentionally sneak something unfavorable in and they find out, their trust will decrease. Adding chopped-up broccoli to spaghetti sauce won’t get them any closer to eating plain broccoli.

Master these skills to minimize dinner table tantrums


ealing with picky eaters can be tricky. On the one hand, parents know kids can’t survive on chicken nuggets forever,

new over and over again before they're going to feel comfortable.” Bhattacharjee has a few tips to help curb food frustrations. Change the way you talk about food. If a child hears he or she “doesn’t eat that” enough times, it tends to stick. Try “we’re working on this food” instead. The same goes for referring to certain foods as “kid foods.”

but on the other, you don’t want to risk the whining that often comes with laying down the law about foods kids have labeled “gross.” It’s true that some kids are just naturally picky due to heightened sensitivities, but there are a few things parents can do to encourage kids to branch out and become a little more adventurous. “Kids should never be forced to ‘just take a bite,’” says Emily Bhattacharjee, a clinical dietitian at Rady Children’s. “There are steps that we all go through; some of us can go through all of the steps really quickly, and some people have to be exposed to something

Eat together as a family. Mealtime is an opportunity for

parents to set a good example. Offer kids smaller portions of the healthy foods you’re eating. A good rule of thumb is to fill three-quarters of your child’s plate with what they like to eat and the other 25 percent with what the rest of the family is eating.


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