Dealing with picky eaters doesn’t always have to be frustrating at meal time. Use these four tips to encourage them to eat and save your sanity.
One thing that can be a damper on family mealtime is a picky eater. It may be a child, it may also be a spouse. I have one of those at home. My husband dislikes most kinds of fruit and tomatoes. Can you believe it?
For him it’s a texture thing, so we always need to have alternatives when making recipes that have the things most of us love (think strawberries, or any kind of berry!)
I’ve found a way around this to some extent by blending fruit into his morning smoothie. While I can’t sneak any kind of berry in there, I can add all other fruits so he still gets the nutrition of fruit.
There are many ways to overcome the problem when dealing with picky eaters. Let’s look at a few ideas you can try to diffuse the tension that can arise from this problem.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t allow a picky eater to rule dinner. Let them know they can eat it or not eat it. You’ll find that if you cook a variety of healthy foods, they really won’t starve themselves.
Offer a Variety of Choices
The first thing to do is offer a variety of choices. Even if you personally don’t like something it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook it sometimes. If there is no problem with allergies and it doesn’t make you gag, you can show your picky eater that you also sometimes eat things that aren’t your favorite.
Show them that sometimes we eat things because they are good for us, because it is someone else’s favorite food, or that you want to be fair to other family members that like the food.
Don’t Force Anyone to Eat
When I was a child we had different rules about eating all of the food on your plate. In fact, we were not allowed to leave the dinner table until all the food was eaten. That meant that hours after everyone left the table, I often found myself sitting there staring at cold, canned, cream corn.
Forcing a person to eat is always a bad idea. No child will starve themselves unless they have a serious medical issue such as anorexia. This is very rare. Food should not become a control issue between you and your family.
To diffuse the situation, put the food on the table family style and ask that your picky eater try a food that they don’t like at least once a year, explaining that taste buds do change over time.
Get Them Involved
When you get the rest of the family involved in dinner prep they’ll be more likely to want to eat it, this is true for even the pickiest eaters. Ask them what they’d like for dinner. Let them find the recipes, have them help purchase the food, and if you have a garden let them grow some of the food too.
It’s amazing how a child will decide they like something just because they grew it themselves.
You may have learned this in high school, or you may not have. Food preferences often are genetic. For example, whether someone loves cilantro or not is due to genetics. Some people think it tastes like soap while others think it tastes fresh and delicious. The same thing with broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
If your child does not like something, ask them to explain why. It might be genetic or it might be a texture issue. When you know what the problem is, there may be other ways to prepare it to make it less off-putting.
It’s easier to deal with picky kids than spouses. If you have a picky spouse and kids, you may want to talk to your spouse and ask them to keep their picky nature to themselves at dinnertime in front of the kids. You don’t want a child to model that behavior that just because they look up to their parent.
All is not lost with our picky eater. While I still, to this day, do not like creamed corn, there are many other foods that I did not like as a child but I will gladly eat now. See, dealing with picky eaters is manageable if you know a few easy tricks!
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