Nutrition

How To Get Your Child To Eat Healthy Foods: Realistic Tips For Picky Eaters

August 4, 2021

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I'm a naturopathic pediatrician based in Colorado Springs offering primary care, chronic care & telemedicine appointments. I'm so glad you're here!
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Removing Stress From Meals

Meal time. It’s supposed to be a space to connect with your pack at the end of a crazy day. You work hard as a mama bear to prepare a nourishing meal every evening for your family. More than that – you spend hours putting together well balanced breakfasts, healthy lunches, and different satisfying snacks every single day. 

You do this because your child’s health means everything to you. So when your kiddo rejects their food, it’s frustrating.As a mama myself, I’ve been there. And as a naturopathic pediatrician, I see parents all the time who tell me they struggle to get their child to eat healthy foods. 

You’re bending over backwards to serve your child the foods they need for healthy growth. The golden question is… how can you get your kiddo to eat them? Let’s talk about realistic strategies to get your child to not only to eat their veggies, but to understand the importance of nutrition, without turning meal times into a battleground.  

Realistic Strategies To Encourage Healthy Eating For Kids 

Total transparency: it’s not always going to be easy. Let’s face it, parenting is hard! Dealing with a picky eater is no exception. BUT when you put these realistic tips into practice, you remove some stress off yourself by taking steps in the right direction. Remember these tips when you’ve got a picky eater on your hands: 

CONSISTENCY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME 

If your kiddo rejects broccoli, don’t react. Continue presenting it to them. They will get used to it and eventually they’ll accept that it needs to be a staple in their diet.

INTRODUCE A VARIETY OF FOODS  

Take a little survey of your child’s meals: what foods do they eat most often? Try not to repeat the same foods in every meal. Encouraging a variety of foods supports a healthy diet and will keep your kiddo from getting bored.  

FOCUS ON ABUNDANCE 

Instead of saying “you can’t have this anymore,” try saying things like “look at this colorful food you can try. And this one, too.” Focus on all there is to eat, rather than what not to eat. 

LET THEM EAT WITH FINGERS

Some kids are more likely to eat foods with their fingers that they otherwise wouldn’t eat with a fork. If they reject the spinach on their plate, encourage them to eat it with their hands. 

GET THEM INVOLVED IN THE MEAL 

Take them grocery shopping with you! Get them excited. Tell them to pick an item in the produce section that they’ve never eaten before. Try to get them involved in cooking and preparing the meal, too. Ask them to pour dressing over the salad or to add spices. 

BE A ROLE MODEL BY MAKING HEALTHY CHOICES

Eating behaviors develop during the first few years of life. (1) Your attitude towards food has a huge influence on your child. Lead by example. Be a model of healthy eating habits and convey a positive mindset around food. 

HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF NUTRITION

At the end of the day, it’s not just about getting your child to eat their peas on Tuesday night. It’s about teaching them the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. Have conversations about why it’s important to eat certain foods. Ultimately, there are going to be some foods kids just don’t like. They may come to enjoy them as an adult. The key to setting your child up for success is to encourage healthy choices and a healthy mindset around food.

PASS Along Keys To Success

Eating healthy foods all the time can be difficult to do ourselves, let alone for our kiddos. This is because, most of the time, we’re so busy running around! From school to an activity, an appointment, or a friend’s house. 

Being on top of your family’s nutrition takes time and preparation. Follow these 4 keys to success to help build a better nutrition routine. 

  • PREPARE. Know what you’re going to make for dinner each night at the start of the week. Do the grocery shopping for those meals in advance. This keeps you from making last minute decisions to order out. 
  • AVOID. Just knowing there’s mac n cheese in the pantry can put kids in a state where that’s all they want. They can’t get it off their mind until they get it. Getting these foods out of your house sets you up for success. 
  • SNACKS. Have healthy ones on hand for when you’re on the go. Keep healthy, easy-to-store snacks like granola, dried fruit, and chopped veggies in the car and in your purse. 
  • SHARE. Share your goals with your kids. Teach them about nutrition and make sure they understand why it matters. This is so important to raising naturally healthy kids. 

This acronym will make it easy to remember the keys to success: PASS it on! 

You’ve Got This, Mama! 

Dealing with a picky eater can be frustrating to say the least. You want your child to eat their kale so badly that it can be tough to keep your cool. But with a solid strategy and patience, you can get your kids – even the pickiest ones – to eat their fruits and veggies. 

Our goal as parents is to raise children who have a healthy relationship with food, and if we’re lucky, a love for foods that support their health. I hope these tips help you improve your kiddo’s diet and ease the stress of feeding your family. Want more guidance on how to maximize your family’s nutrition in a realistic way? I dive deeper into this topic and other basics of health in my FREE mini-course! 

You’ll get my very best advice on how to build a healthy foundation for your child dropped right to your inbox. Enter your email address in the form below to get access.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2531152/ 

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  1. […] should also check out this post on how to feed picky eaters for some tried-and-true […]

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