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5 Picky Eater Strategies for Easier Mealtimes

Jun 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM Chime in now

Picky eaters


By CERI MARSH, Sweet Potato Chronicles

A recent study found that 92% of kids considered to be picky eaters were picky either at home or at school. Not both. Only 8% were just plain picky all the time. Sorry, I’m sure the point is clear to you but I have to spell it out because I’m still reeling from this news. The child who tortures you through dinner with grimacing faces and a refusal to even touch a piece of Swiss chard is happily tucking into lunch. No one has confirmed this for me, but I’m sure the pickiness is more common at home. Because at school, well, who cares if Ella eats her lunch? Nobody, that’s whom. Which is exactly why she sits down and just eats.

So how can you get your fussy eater to give more meals a chance? There are a few strategies parents can do to tip the scale in favour of less drama at home. Or at least to send that selective eating back where it belongs, school. Here are five tips for facing down the steeliest character: the picky eater.

1. Don’t say picky. Pickiness is almost always a stage, so don’t give your kid permission to settle into the role by giving it a name.

2. Check yourself, Mom. If you want your kids to be adventurous you’ve got to model that behaviour yourself. Another helping of brussel sprouts anyone?

3. Put Picky to work! In the kitchen, that is. Kids are far more likely to eat food they played a part in preparing. Make a big fuss at the table, and let everyone know that Henry made the amazing spinach salad you’re about to enjoy.

4. Always offer her favourite dish or ingredient alongside the one you know is going to be an issue. It’s not exactly a spoonful of sugar, but it will help the collard greens go down.

5. Know that picky eating is about control. As hard as it is, if you’re easy breezy when your kid tells you that broccoli—which was a favourite yesterday—is gross/disgusting/horrible, just shrug it off. The less there is to push against, the faster these tensions dissolve.

Okay, here’s just one more tip we had to give you: One family equals one meal. You’re not a short order cook. As long as there’s something on the table that everyone will eat, no one is going to starve. And knowing you’re not going to get up and make her something else, just might motivate her to give tomatoes a chance.

Ceri Marsh is a writer, editor and mom of two, and co-founder of the family food blog Sweet Potato Chronicles.

For more tips, recipes and healthy family meal ideas:

Best After-School Snacks

10 Easy Ways to Get Kids Eating Healthier

12 Healthy Ingredients to Put in Your Breakfast Smoothie


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