Posted by / Friday, October 31, 2014 / No comments / ,

8 Rules for Picky Eating

A frowning, picky eater, at the dinner table.
Picky eating can be fairly common amongst children, but it is important to deal with it appropriately to avoid bad habits in children. Here are my eight rules for dealing with picky eating in children to help make your life easier.

  1. Structure meal times - Have specific meal times and snack times so the child gets hungry at the same time every day. Don’t let them eat whenever they want or they are likely to fill up on snacks and beverages and not be hungry during meal time. Picky eating is less likely with a regular eating schedule, plus you can feed them new foods when you know they will be hungry so they are more likely to try it.

  1. Involve the child - Ask them to help pick out the meals and grocery shop so they feel more responsible and know that they helped make the meal decisions. Aside from picky eating, this is also a great opportunity to teach them about health and all the nutrients that should go into a meal - it’s a win/win!

  1. Make one dinner - Don’t cater to the child’s picky eating habits by making them special dinners. Make one dinner that everyone will eat together. If they don’t like it, they can learn to make their own food. The child gains control of the situation when they get special meals made for them. Plus, this will make more work for you and that’s not what we are going for! Letting them help plan the meals will help with this.

  1. Teach them to listen to their stomach - It’s important that children learn how to feel when they are full and when they are hungry. Don’t force them to eat or this could cause a false sense of hunger and instigate bad dietary habits. Health before force!

  1. Serve small amounts of new foods over time - It can be too overwhelming for the child to be served lots of new foods at one time. Picky eating can be remedied by incorporating little bits at a time because it takes time for a child to get used to a new food and to the taste and texture - this could take a few weeks.

  1. Don’t offer sugary foods as a prize - Offering unhealthy prizes does not teach the child how to value nutrition, it teaches the child how to value sweets - try to avoid this! If you give them desert, make sure it is small and offer it as a part of dinner every night - not as a prize. Remember, don’t buy foods like processed sugar if you don’t want your child to eat them - don’t make it available in your home.

  1. Try not to make a big deal about their picky eating - If you define them and tell them they are picky, they will most likely remain picky. The goal is not to make picky eating part of their identity. Remember, children need to be taught, not just told.

It’s easy to try to remedy picky eating by making your child eat or offering them unhealthy foods as a prize, but this could result in unhealthy long term habits of children. Make sure to follow these rules to help stop picky eating and start healthy choices.

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