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Conquering The Picky Eater Struggle: Developing Healthy Eating Habits

Updated: Jun 9

Vegetables for picky eaters

Do you have a picky eater at home? If you find yourself constantly battling over meal times, you're not alone. Many parents struggle with picky eaters, but there are effective strategies to help your child develop healthy eating habits. In this post, we'll explore practical tips and tricks to transform your mealtime experience and eliminate picky eating once and for all.

1. Create a Positive Mealtime Environment

One of the most important steps in overcoming picky eating is to create a positive and stress-free mealtime environment. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Set a Routine: Establish regular meal and snack times. Consistency helps children understand when to expect food.

  • Family Meals: Whenever possible, eat together as a family. This sets a positive example and encourages children to try new foods.

  • Remove Distractions: Turn off the TV and put away devices during meals. This helps children focus on their food and develop better eating habits.

2. Offer a Variety of Foods

Introducing a variety of foods early on can prevent picky eating from becoming a habit. Here’s how you can diversify your child’s diet:

  • Different Textures and Colors: Children are often attracted to bright and colorful foods. Offer a rainbow of fruits and vegetables in various textures.

  • Small Portions: Serve small portions of new foods alongside familiar favorites. This reduces the pressure to eat large amounts of something new.

  • Repeated Exposure: Don’t give up if your child rejects a food. It can take multiple exposures before they accept a new food.

3. Involve Your Child in Meal Preparation

Children are more likely to eat foods they’ve helped prepare. Here are some age-appropriate ways to get them involved:

  • Grocery Shopping: Let your child pick out fruits and vegetables at the store.

  • Cooking: Depending on their age, involve them in simple cooking tasks like washing vegetables, stirring ingredients, or setting the table.

  • Gardening: If possible, grow a small garden. Kids are often excited to eat what they’ve grown.

4. Be a Role Model

Children imitate their parents, so demonstrate healthy eating habits:

  • Eat Together: Show enthusiasm for a variety of foods during family meals.

  • Avoid Negative Comments: Never make negative comments about food. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of trying new foods.

5. Make Food Fun

Making food fun can encourage children to try new things. Here are some creative ideas:

  • Food Art: Arrange fruits and vegetables into fun shapes or faces on the plate.

  • Theme Nights: Have themed dinner nights, such as a “Rainbow Dinner” where every dish is a different color.

  • Interactive Meals: Create meals where children can assemble their own plates, like taco bars or salad stations.

6. Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can encourage children to try new foods without pressure. Consider these techniques:

  • Praise and Encouragement: Offer praise when your child tries something new, even if it’s just a small bite.

  • Sticker Charts: Use a sticker chart to track new foods tried, with a reward system for reaching certain goals.

  • Gentle Encouragement: Encourage without forcing. Gentle encouragement helps build a positive association with trying new foods.

7. Be Patient and Persistent

Changing eating habits takes time. Stay patient and consistent with your efforts. Remember:

  • It’s a Process: Don’t expect overnight success. Progress might be slow, but it’s worth it.

  • Stay Positive: Keep a positive attitude, even when facing setbacks.

By following these tips, you can gradually eliminate picky eating in your household and create a positive, healthy eating environment. Remember, patience and persistence are key. With time and effort, your child can develop a more adventurous palate and enjoy a wider variety of nutritious foods.

If you want to focus on incorporating certain veggies or proteins in your meals or work with certain ones you know your family will enjoy, we have ingredient guides to help you with that and you can find them here. If you want to receive new real food recipes each month so you don't have to sift through recipes yourself, you can find that here! All our recipes are intended to be nutrient dense and avoid all ultra-processed foods and vegetable and seed oils.

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