How do you turn your picky eater into a much more adventurous eater? Let us munch the ways…
Picky eaters can be painful AF when it comes to family cooking. It’s easy to give in and coast along nurturing a picky eater’s fussiness, serving up separate meals just so we know they’re getting food into them. We get it, we’ve been there.
But the secret to helping to unlock an adventurous eater from the grips of fussiness is really just exposure and patience. Never give up offering your kid new or previously rejected foods.
From picky eater to foodie: 10 ways to encourage adventurous eating
1. Plate up like a boss
We eat with our eyes. Hand on my heart, one of the best ways to get past a picky eater and their automatic refusal to eat something is to DRESS IT UP. If the plate looks super appealing, it opens up the chances of them maybe just trying a little bit. And then, hopefully, going back for more!
2. Make food fun
Use cookie cutters to create different shapes for food and sandwiches. Think outside the box a little and thread fruit on to skewers or popcorn on to string for something a little different. Use fun, bright tableware for toddlers and make funny faces out of their meals (mashed potato hair or beard anyone?). Food should be fun to explore!
3. Encourage a healthy relationship with food
Involve kids in shopping for groceries. Talk about fresh fruit and vegetables, make a game out of guessing their names, what they smell like and how to cook it. Once home, let kids help in supervised slicing and meal prep for a hands-on experience.
4. Debunk the naming code
Kids are weird. Our youngest always told us how much he disliked quiche but his favourite lunch was egg and bacon pie. Go figure. Side note: they’re EXACTLY the same thing. Sometimes you’ve just got to give foods another name to convince your kid…
5. Try, try again
Perseverance is key with a picky eater. Even if hamburgers have been rejected 50 times beforehand, something might have twigged, (seeing a friend eat a hamburger, a hamburger picture in a storybook, smells or even advertising) either way, it’s convinced your child to have a crack at a hamburger. Huzzah!
6. Make mealtimes a family affair
Everyone coming together at the family table is not only awesome for family time, but it’s a great tool for encouraging picky eaters. Play food games like ‘everyone eats their carrots first!’ and ask your picky eater ‘What should we all eat off our plate next?’.
7. Involve kids in meal planning
Involving children in meal planning gives them some control over what they want to eat instead of feeling constant pressure at meal times. If they ALWAYS choose chicken nuggets or a sausage roll, go with it but ask them to name some veggies or salad stuff to pair with it. Pick your battles wisely and just try to match them in the nutritional stakes.
8. Create food bridges
Food bridges are formed when your child discovers he likes a certain food and is then introduced to other ‘related’ foods, all using the common ‘liked’ ingredient or similar. If your child loves cheese, they’re likely to enjoy a cheese sauce pasta, quiche with cheese topping, cheese sandwiches etc. In fact, if your kid loves cheese just sprinkle it on EVERYTHING.
9. Remember to spice and season
Without proper seasoning, food can taste really bland, even to a seasoned non-picky eater. Season your child’s food with a small pinch of salt or pepper. Hit up the spice cupboard for mild blends, such as adding Italian herbs to spaghetti dishes, a touch of cumin or coriander powder to curries and cook rice in a flavoursome stock instead of water.
10. Babies naturally say no A LOT
Babies naturally reject MANY foods. Their sweet mouths automatically hit the eject button as they embark on their weaning journey, learning HOW to chew, eat and develop their palate. Don’t be put off if they turn their heads in disgust at smushed peas, try again the next day – they might just lap it up!
When it comes to mealtime battles and picky eaters, guys you’re definitely not alone! Here are 11 SUPER CUTE ways to serve fruit differently to get more fruit into the kids. Furthermore, if you think your child’s fussiness might be something more, you can read all about Neophobia here.