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Help for Picky Eaters

Do you live with a picky eater? In particular, a child who thinks that they can subside just fine on chicken nuggets and mac & cheese for all of eternity? Dealing with a kid that doesn’t want to eat or try anything new, can be an exercise in frustration, but there are some things you

Do you live with a picky eater? In particular, a child who thinks that they can subside just fine on chicken nuggets and mac & cheese for all of eternity?

Dealing with a kid that doesn’t want to eat or try anything new, can be an exercise in frustration, but there are some things you can do to help expand a child’s palate and introduce them to new foods. I even recently read a statistic that says kids have to try new foods something like 15 times before they may decide that they like it.

I also recently learned that kids’ developing palates are different than adults, so when they tell you veggies are gross, they actually may be gross to them. Particularly green veggies. They seem to have a more bitter flavor than they do to adults.

The Mayo Clinic offers these tips to help with picky eaters at home.
Respect your child’s appetite — or lack of one

If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food. In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration or become less sensitive to his or her own hunger and fullness cues.
Be patient with new foods

Young children often touch or smell new foods, and might even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again. Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite.

Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods. Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.
Don’t be a short-order cook

Preparing a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal might promote picky eating. Encourage your child to stay at the table for the designated mealtime — even if he or she doesn’t eat.

Recruit your child’s help

At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table. This is also a great time to start teaching your child how to cook, which may make them more likely to eat.
Minimize distractions

Turn off the television and other electronic gadgets during meals. This will help your child focus on eating. Plus sitting down together and eating dinner is great for family dynamics and spending quality time together.

Don’t offer dessert as a reward

Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child’s desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development, consult your child’s doctor. He or she can plot your child’s growth on a growth chart. In addition, consider recording the types and amounts of food your child eats for three days. The big picture might help ease your worries. A food log can also help your child’s doctor determine any problems.

At the end of the day, some of the best base advice that I have learned recently has been this: You, as the adult, set the what you eat and when you eat, let your child decide how much they eat — with the base understanding that the alternative will be the rest of their meal later, or a healthy snack of your choosing.

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