HOW TO EXPAND YOUR PICKY EATER’S PALATE
Children are notorious for being picky eaters. Sometimes they grow out of these habits, and other times they carry them into their teens or even adulthood. A picky eater can lead a difficult and frustrating life for epicurean parents, so try nipping it in the bud early on by using these methods.
First, Rule Out Allergies
Before you get too upset that your child never wants to eat her vegetables, make sure she doesn’t have a serious allergy to the food you want her to eat. She might not be able to express why she does not like the food. Perhaps it gave her an upset stomach or made her feel uncomfortable the last time she tried the dish, but she isn’t quite able to express that yet. Check with your doctor on the most common food allergies for kids and continue from there.
Don’t Force It
Yes, it’s important for your child to get enough vitamins and protein to grow up healthy and strong, but it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t eat everything that’s on his plate at each and every meal. If you try to force him to eat something, it will just increase his dislike of the food. Do you remember when you were his age and your mom made you eat those green beans? Maybe that’s why you still don’t like them to this day. No one likes every food they’re introduced to, and kids are no exception. Don’t create a more difficult situation by making your child eat something he really can’t stomach.
Just like you don’t want to force-feed your child, you really don’t want to bribe him to eat. A bribe is a quick fix to a long-term problem, and can cause some problematic attitudes towards food as he gets older. Chances are, the unhealthy snack foods you use as a bribe are doing more damage than if your child simply didn’t eat that side of rice. Think twice before resorting to a bribe; it may seem like the easy way out, but when in life is the easy way the right way?
Turn It Into a Game
Kids love games more than almost anything else. Their imaginations are constantly running, so fuel that line of creativity with a few dinnertime games. If you turn dinner into an adventure, he might be more interested in picking up that broccoli and tasting it than if you were to threaten him with no dinner at all. Another fun game for kids that often works is the dare. This works best if another child in the family initiates it. For example, your daughter says, “I dare you to eat your broccoli.” Your son responds with, “I’ll eat my broccoli if you eat your chicken.” Your kids are eating the food they claim to hate because they want to see their sibling squirm.
Keep in Mind That Their Palates are Different From Yours
Remember, a child’s taste buds are not as developed as your own. For instance, they are more sensitive to spicy foods. If something is too spicy or the flavors are too complex, they might not take to it very well. So, dull down your foods next time and try again.
Remember That Everything Takes Time
Even with playing games and turning dinner into an adventure, it will take time before your child picks up that new food and decides to give it a taste. Change is scary for kids. As babies, they ate the same foods day in and day out. Now as young children, they know certain foods are good and are leery of any that look, taste or feel different. With that in mind, try to have patience with your child. He will get the hang of it soon enough, and hopefully by the time he’s a bit older, he’ll be comfortable enough with trying new foods that it won’t be a problem if the school lunch is something he’s never had before.
Prepare Meals Together
One way to get your child to expand her palate is to have her help you make dinner. She can help choose what side dish will go with the meal, and have a hand in making it. She’ll be proud of her creation and want to see how it turned out. Part of this process should include choices. Give your child a few options for what side will go with burgers tonight. Keep all of the options healthy and tell her those are the only choices. She will choose which one sounds most appealing to her and will have no excuse not to eat it when dinner is served.
One or all of these can help your child become a less picky eater. Getting your children involved in the process or allowing them to have fun with eating can change their mindset. Half of why they won’t touch certain foods is the events surrounding the last time they were made to eat it. Turn the situation into something positive and you’ll notice a difference in the long run.
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