If you're frustrated with your child's limited palate, feast your eyes on these tips.
Involve Kids in Meal Planning1 of 7
Let your kids help with grocery shopping. My reluctant vegetable eater gets to add a vegetable or two to the shopping list every week. If he's at the store with me, I spend a little extra time in the produce section to let him eyeball the selection. If something catches his eye, we give it a try.
Involve kids further by allowing them to plan the dinner menu once a week. Talk to them about the different food groups and work together to ensure the menu choices add up to a well-rounded meal. Sure, they may choose chicken nuggets or pizza as the main dish, but you'll have a healthy vegetable on the side that they're more likely to eat if they picked it themselves. Some favorites around here are spaghetti and meatballs, French dip sandwiches and tacos. The same cooperative meal planning can be utilized for packing school lunches.
Adjust the Presentation2 of 7
My kids are more likely to try new foods or eat a larger serving of something they may not normally consume if I call it an appetizer. This may be veggies paired with dip or hummus, chips with salsa or guacamole, a bowl of olives or cheese cubes and salami. Another way to keep kids eating is serving dinner tapas style. It looks like three small courses, maybe veggies and dip to start, followed by a cheese quesadilla and sliced avocado and finished with a small bowl of fruit.
Model Adventurous Eating Habits3 of 7
As adults, we don't often try new foods. We know what we like and our eating habits reflect that. We know we're supposed to show our kids healthy eating habits—and perhaps you do—but how often do you try new foods the way you expect your kids to?
Allow Kids to Fill Up Their Own Plates4 of 7
If you're serving burritos, put all of the fixings in bowls and let the kids build their own. The same can go for baked potatoes, green salads and tacos. Offer a variety of toppings and let the kids go to town.
Harness the Power of Peer Modeling5 of 7
My daughter fell in love with frozen peas after seeing a friend eat peas straight from the bag. Our neighbor now eats cucumbers and hummus after seeing my kids do the same. My son eats Buffalo chicken wings because his friends do. We know peer pressure is a powerful thing. Let's use it to our advantage.
Relax6 of 7
All kids (and adults) have some food aversions and it's likely your own child's fall within the normal range. Continue to introduce tiny servings of new foods alongside items you know they'll eat and some of those new foods will eventually be accepted. Don't make it a battle, but do encourage your kids to try it. You'll learn through trial and error that carrots are gross unless they are in a salad and that meat on the bone is yucky, except for ribs, which are delicious. Not all foods are going to be a winner though, as I am reminded every time my kids bring up the time I tried to get them to eat broccoli rabe.