Picky 101: Got a picky kid? Try these tips! Part 1

Picky 101: Got a picky kid? Try these tips! Part 1

Before I had kids I made all the predictable, obnoxious claims that I was not going to tolerate picky eating. If you just let kids know you’re not going to put up with meal time nonsense, I told myself, they’ll eat all the rapini, curry and camembert you put in front of them. I know, I know, so cute. Like so many parents before me I have been brought low by the erratic and extreme prejudice of a pre-schooler. Luckily, SPC has got some friends who can help. These are food and parenting experts with more than a few tricks up their sleeves. Pre-schoolers, bring it on!

Aviva Goldfarb, creator of the wildly successful online menu planner, Six O’Clock Scramble.

“Keep a list of new foods your picky eater has been willing to try.  Every time they try a new healthy food without rejecting it, make a big fanfare of adding it to the list!”

Jenny Rosenstrach, author of Time For Dinner. Keep up with Jenny at www.dinneralovestory.com

“My tip: Serve dinner on a platter instead of on individual bowls and have the picky eaters serve themselves (or point to what they want if they’re too young). That way you outsource the control/power to them. Make sure there is one thing on the plate they like and if they only pick that thing for a while, don’t give up. If they are watching you eat that stuff, the message is processing. Exposure is name of the game.”

Kathy Buckworth, author of Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children & Chardonnay. For more on Kathy, check out: www.kathybuckworth.com

“I’ve heard that it takes a child up to 15 times of trying a new food to make an educated decision as to whether they like a food or not. I choose to wear them down by trying it over and over again.  Forget the “Just one bite” philosophy.  Tell them, ‘Well, we just got try #12 out of the way.’  Before you know it, that food has become one of their routine/comfort foods…usually. And when my kids ask me ‘Did I like this the last time?’ I always say ‘Like it? You loved it!’ If they’re not bright enough to remember whether they liked something or not, they kind of get what’s coming.”

Theresa Albert, author of Ace Your Health; 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck. Catch up with her at www.myfriendinfood.com Theresa wrote a great, longer piece for Canadian Family on surviving the picky phase, read the rest here.

“Most picky eating is really a struggle for control. Around age 2, taste buds develop along with the new knowledge that something (anything!) is within tot’s control.  Do NOT engage. Back off.  This will, of course, be a technique that requires about 18 years of practice and all caregivers’ agreement.

What you want to do is change the conversation, your answer to their balk is: ‘Sorry you feel that way, that’s what’s for dinner (snack, lunch, breakfast…)’ And, before you ask, my answer to you is: ‘Yes its hard, yes they will be hungry, no they will not starve.’ Be consistent.”

John Donohue from www.stayatstovedad.com. Look for his book, coming out May 2011: Man With a Pan; Culinary Adventures of Father who Cook for Their Families.

“In dealing with a picky eater, the best approach is patience and ease. Those things are often in short supply around a family table, but they go a long way. For example, until very recently, my five-year old refused to try scrambled eggs with cheese, which is something she should automatically like. She eats eggs, and she eats cheddar cheese. She just would never eat them together. Then one day she tried a bite of mine, and now she’s crazy for them. I didn’t care if she ate “cheesy eggs,” as she calls them (she was getting enough protein from the egg itself), and I’m sure my casual approach was a big factor in her wanting to try them. Now if I could only get her to eat fruit. She won’t even try a jam or a jelly, so I have my work cut out for me. For now, I’m just waiting for her to come to her senses.”

Jennifer Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine

“Pretty much every hurdle I’ve encountered, I’ve gotten through with positive reinforcement. I say to my son, ‘Of course you like kale, dude, it has vitamins A,C and K and it’s so good for your bones. You want to skate fast and have strong bones, right?’ He agrees and that’s pretty much how it goes every time. If it’s a new flavour, I just ask him to try one bite. By three he was happy to eat a variety of different curry, tomato and barbecue sauces. At five he embraced lentils and now that he’s six, he’ll eat everything! I also tried new foods and veggies right when he came home from school and was famished. I give him snacks in a bento box: a few grape tomatoes, a few Goldfish, a new veg or fruit and some raisins.”

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