Feeding a picky eater is stressful! Many of the parents I work with in Conquering Picky Eating are not only worried about the small number of foods their child eats. They also worry about whether or not their child will grow properly. They question whether their child is getting the nutrition they need to thrive.
Like any parent you want your child to be as healthy and successful as they can. Unfortunately, picky eaters tend to shy away from the foods that help accomplish that and tend to gravitate towards foods with less nutritional value.
If you’re worried about your child’s nutrition, health, growth, and overall well being, try the following tips. They focus on introducing your child to new foods while also covering the nutritional bases as they learn to like new, healthier foods.
9 Ways Help Your Very Picky Eater Eat Healthier
Offer a Variety of Nutritious Foods
Even if they don’t eat it yet. Even if they don’t eat it ten times in a row. Keep offering! They’ll never have a chance to try if you don’t offer. Similarly, always have nutritious options available at home. Bonus if these are visible and accessible.
Offer Nutritious Foods When They’re Hungry
Hungry kids are more likely to try new foods. Offer nutritious foods alongside their favorites when they’re hungry. Better yet, when they’re hungry and you’re busy preparing their meal or snack, offer a small portion of a nutritious food like a fruit plate, veggies with dip, or a slice of cheese. They don’t have to eat it, but they are certainly welcome to! This technique works when they know their preferred food is on its way.
Offer Small Portions of Nutritious Foods
Smaller portions are more manageable and less intimidating. Even seeing just a tiny tiny piece of a nutritious food plants the seed for healthier eating.
Try a Supplement or Multivitamin
Vitamin supplements can be a great bridge if you’re worried about your child’s nutrition while they’re learning to eat nutritious foods. They’re particularly helpful for kids who don’t yet like any fruits or vegetables. I’m a big fan of My Spectrum Heroes (use code JENNY10 for 10% off!) and Simple Spectrum.
If your child doesn’t eat a lot of protein, consider boosting some of their favorite foods with a supplement like Healthy Height.
Limit Low Nutrition Snacking Between Meals
Most kids I know love to snack and they love snack foods. But once you get them to the table? They’re a lot less enthusiastic. One of the ways you can boost their appetite for the more nutritious foods you’re offering at mealtimes is to limit all day grazing and excessive snacking. If you do need to offer a snack, try to optimize nutrition. I love Dino Bars. Find healthy snacks by following my tips along with some of my favorites for super picky eaters.
Model Healthy Eating Behavior
Family and friends can have a big impact on a child’s food preferences. Model healthy eating habits by eating well yourself – and actually enjoying it!
Make Healthy Foods Appealing
Sometimes healthier options just don’t look as good as sweets and treats. Try to make fruits, veggies, and healthful proteins as appealing as possible by thinking about how they’re presented. I like offering dips alongside nutritious foods to make them more enticing. It can also help to vary how you are presenting these foods. A child may not want a whole apple, but may be more interested in trying a slice or diced piece.
Play to their Preferences
Think about your child’s preferences. If they love crunchy foods, offer crunchy nutritious options. If they love to dip, provide a dip. Do they only eat bland foods? White foods can be healthy, too!
Play around with seasonings, pairings, and presentation. It’s okay to incorporate vegetables or ground flax seed into sauces or baked goods. Just be transparent about what you’re doing.
Please note – if your child is actively losing weight or has any signs or symptoms of nutrient deficiencies, contact your pediatrician.
You don’t have to worry about your child’s growth and nutrition. Frequently offer them nutritious foods in inviting ways. Serve foods you think they will like. You might also want to consider a supplement or vitamin as they learn to eat a greater variety of foods.
Which of the tips above sounds doable? Pick one to introduce this week. Plan to incorporate it into your routine. What setbacks are you anticipating?