What to do with a picky eater in 21 days!
We know you want your kids to eat the healthy food you provide them. We also know it’s frustrating when you embark on a new healthy eating goal, only to find your kids are not on board with change! When kids are picky eaters, it’s difficult to stick with your resolve to improve things. It’s maddenig when you spend good money on healthy food and it gets wasted! It’s unfair when you see your friends kids eat well, yet your child won’t deviate from noodles and cheese!
We want you to be confident that what you are doing is right, and we want your kids to be willing participants along the way. So, we’ve developed the slow, easy going, non-complaining, baby step approach to healthier eating for you and even the pickiest of your kids!
We’ve selected 21 days of activities and a variety of experiences to help train your child’s palate, help them to become connected with the source of their food, and help them to make decisions on their own.
- Choose and prepare the food
- Provide regular meals and snacks
- Make eating times pleasant
- Show proper mealtime and food behavior (manners, as well as setting an example for trying new foods)
- Not allowing grazing
One overlooked concept for parents is that there are so many ways to offer fruits and veggies. Frozen, blended, dried, canned, juiced, smoothies, raw, roasted, steamed, etc! So many kids have texture issues! My daughter won’t eat applesauce, but loves apples . But the trick is to offer fruits and veggies in their various forms because it might not be that they don’t like broccoli- maybe they just don’t like it steamed.
With my kids being older now (they are 14, 12, and 10), I can honestly say, it just takes time! In fact, for some foods, it took A LOT of time! My oldest son has had vegetables on his plate almost every night for the better part of his life. He didn’t start asking for salad until the last few years. He complained about it from the time he could talk, till he was about 9 years old. Did I ever give in and tell him he never had to eat vegetables again because he complained? Of course not! I left them on his plate every single night and never gave up.
The key to our success is that over time, your kids will understand that healthy eating is a part of life. It is said that by the time they are 10 years old, they will likely have the dietary habits that will carry them into their adult life. So, don’t give up! It’s worth it to stick with the goal of them enjoying healthy food!
SO- Let’s Get Started~
DAY 1- FOOD FIELD TRIP
Take your kids on a food field trip to the grocery store, or Farmer’s Market. As a parent, I know getting your groceries alone is much easier. However, plan special trips to the grocery store just for your kids to browse the produce section of your store. While there, talk about the different fruits and vegetables they can identify.
Ask them which fruits and veggies they’ve tried before, which ones are their favorites, and which new ones seem intriguing enough to test out. Let each child choose 1 fruit & 1 veggie that is their favorite, and one that they want to taste that is brand new. Take them home and taste them all.
DAY 2- CLEAR THE CLUTTER-
While we are all about balance and moderation in our homes (a little sugar here and there), there are some foods that take away a child’s ability to appreciate whole foods. Foods that are high in sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients retrain their taste buds to prefer fake foods. When you get rid of these foods in favor of a whole foods diet, they actually begin to enjoy the flavors and textures of whole foods. Take the opportunity with your kids to get rid of any foods in your pantry that contain:
- Artificial dyes such as Blue, Yellow, or Red.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Vegetable oils.
DAY 3- DRINK A GREEN SMOOTHIE
Smoothies and are a great way to ensure your kids are getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children ages 2-8 of 1 1/2 cups of fruit per day and 1 1/2-2 cups of vegetables per day. Starting your kids with a green smoothie each morning helps them get right on their way!
Picky eater tip- We sometimes freeze our green smoothies into a popsicle mold. I did anything to make sure they at least got 1 cup of greens every day, and popsicles are an easy way to make this happen. You can start with less greens if it’s new for your kids, and slowly add more greens each time you make it!
Beginners “Green” Smoothie: (it’s really purple, not green at all)
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 Tablespoon Flax meal
(makes enough for 2 people)
Blend until smooth! Each time you make this add a few extra leaves of spinach, until you are up to 1 cup per person.
For more Smoothie options, check out our template here.
DAY 4: EAT 4 VEGGIES TODAY
The challenge today is to eat 4 servings of vegetables! This can be ANY 4 vegetables! The first time I issued this challenge to my kids, they ate 4 baby carrots. And that is OK! It’s like exercising a muscle, except this muscle is their taste buds. Eating four vegetables today (and more days if you choose), will start training those “muscles”.
DAY 5: PREPARE A CRUDITES TRAY
Washing and cutting the vegetables for your kids, so they are available and ready to eat, is paramount in getting kids to eat their vegetables.
Arrange carrots, celery, broccoli, and peppers onto a platter, and leave out on the counter or table for snacking throughout the day. When your kids come to you “hungry”, direct them to the veggie tray.
If you want a dip to accompany your vegetables, Ranch has always been a popular choice among kids. We make ours with 1 cup of light sour cream and the following seasonings:
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
DAY 6: BALANCE MEALS 101
Using a paper plate and markers, let your kids divide their plate into four equal sections. Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Proteins. Have them draw pictures right on the plate identifying the food group. Talk about why it’s important to eat foods from each food group each day!
- Protein helps us build muscles.
- Grains gives us energy
- Vegetables gives us minerals that make the systems in our body work the best.
- and Fruits give us vitamins that keep us from getting sick.
DAY 7: HAVE A SALAD BAR FOR DINNER
The first time I offered a salad bar for dinner, my pickiest eater said she would not participate. Upon demanding that she sit with us through…