When my cousin was a baby, her reluctance to try new foods was cute. “Oh, look, she won’t try the spinach!” quickly became “Why won’t she eat anything other than chicken nuggets?” It got to the point where she wouldn’t eat anything unless we managed to convince her it had come from McDonald’s. Here are some ideas for helping the picky eater in your life become a little less picky, and a little more adventurous when it comes to culinary endeavors.
Serve it First
If you placate your child with a plate of french fries and then offer up a highly-contested salad, chances are you’ve already lost the battle. Try offering new foods first, when your child is hungry and more likely to at least try it.
Picky eating can mean that a child isn’t getting enough nutrients. To overcome this obstacle, try hiding vegetables in different foods. By baking vegetables into muffins, breads, or pasta dishes, you can ensure your child is getting enough of the good stuff while you work to incorporate more veggies into the diet. While many recipes are dedicated to this method of conquering picky eaters, including the very popular Sneaky Chef, hiding new foods is not a long term solution. After all, will you still be sneaking zucchini into Anthony’s morning muffins when he’s twenty-nine and living on his own?
Sometimes, putting a less-favorite food into a favorite dish might provide just the change-up your child is looking for. My cousin went through a phase loving macaroni and cheese, and we started putting a can of peas into a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. It was a really simple way to incorporate a new ingredient into an old favorite, and she responded very favorably after trying it.
Preparation is Key
A child’s aversion to certain foods may come from unfamiliarity. To help your child become very familiar with the ingredients you’re using, why not have him or her come into the kitchen as a co-chef? Have your child help you pick out recipes for the week that incorporate a few new ingredients, and then take a trip to the grocery store together. Work as a team to create the meal, and your child will be more invested in the food you’ve made and more likely to try it if he or she has seen it in the various steps.
Make it Fun
Try recipes that make new foods fun. Cut food into different shapes, combine foods together using edible adhesives, the sky is the limit as far as creative ways to present food go. Make dinner an adventure where as a family you try new things, and encourage adventuresome eating!
What are some of the ways you’ve dealt with a picky eater?