5 Tips for Picky Eaters

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5 Basic Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat More Things
5 Basic Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat More Things

A Word About Picky Eaters

No one is enchanted by people who say, “My kids are such wonderful eaters, they eat everything.” The only responses are, “Wow! Good for you, and good for them!” or “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Some kids eat a lot of different foods—and having been around the block I feel glad/lucky that my own kids are pretty darn good eaters. However, they don’t eat everything. Who eats everything? And why does eating everything make you such a spectacular human being? 

If you have kids who DO eat pretty much everything, then you are one lucky duck. But a gentle reminder; try to remember that this information isn’t as enthralling to others as it is to you.

If it secretly makes you feel better, you can hold your head a little higher at the PTA meeting and think to yourself, “I see you over there, Claire, bragging about your little Donny, and how well he did at the chess tournament. Well, good for you, miss missy; my Brian eats Brussels sprouts. Check mate, baby.”  And you can rest assured that your mother-in-law is sharing the good news with her mahjong friends.

5 Basic Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat More Things

Cooking for kids is not always the most gratifying experience, I’m the first to admit. And when they were younger one of my kids usually picked a moment where someone I’d like to impress, just a little bit, was sitting at the table to say, “Ew, mom are those capers?! I’m not eating that.” To which I usually responded, smiling with gently clenched teeth and stiff cheeks, “Honey, you ate that last month, and you loved it. Really, he loved it. He asked for seconds. No big deal, it’s just so funny that he doesn’t remember!” It’s so FUNNY!

To quote Kenny Rodgers: “You got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.”    But here are some tips to try and turn the tide:

5 Basic Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat More Things

1. Don’t offer your kid something to try while simultaneously saying, “I don’t think you’re going to like this.”

Sorry for the all caps but DO NOT OFFER YOUR KID SOMETHING TO TRY WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY SAYING, “I DON’T THINK YOU’RE GOING TO LIKE THIS.”  We all catch ourselves doing this occasionally, and realize, “Oh my God, now what are the odds that my son will turn around and say, ‘No, mom, you’re wrong; this 8-bean soup is fantastic!’” 

5 Basic Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat More Things

2. Realize that your kid is probably thinking they are going to hate most new things.

Realize that your kid is probably thinking they are going to hate most new things, and that it is your job to basically ignore that fact, and keep moving forward, like a shark. Otherwise in 50 years we are going to be looking at senior communities filled with people nibbling on chicken nuggets and debating the merits of honey-mustard vs. barbecue sauce, both of which will probably give them all heartburn. 

3. Start with small portions.

Start with small portions, especially when it comes to things like fish or anything kids have a propensity to be suspicious of. A big slab or bowl of something they are skeptical of may result in a stonewall, while a little two-bite experiment is much more likely to be acceptable.

4. Keep a bit of a poker face.

In other words, as hard as it is (and it is hard) if your kids know you really want them to like something, they may resist it more. This isn’t total control freakism on their part; just a little. 

5. Employ peer pressure (the good kind).

Make an effort to eat with other kids (often bigger kids) who have broader palates than yours. Your picky eater may be willing to give something a shot in the name of being perceived as cool or more grown up. In summary, my children would probably not have ingested such large portions of carrot coconut milk bisque at a friend’s house at a tender age without three unflappable high schoolers at the table slurping it down happily.

Other Tips for Feeding Kids:

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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