Who else out there has hidden their child’s veggies in a smoothie or pancakes? It’s not ideal, but they need their greens, right? As challenging as parenting a picky eater can be, it turns out we may be partly to blame for them not being adventurous about food.Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and mom of three, explains a few ways we’re keeping our kids from expanding their palates.
- You accept their pickiness as reality- It’s one thing if your five-year-old has refused salmon since she was old enough to talk, but saying things like “Oh, she won’t eat that” is only helping her maintain her limited preferences. Largeman-Roth says kids can surprise us and that it’s best to keep offering food over and over because they might surprise you one day by actually trying it.
- You’re hiding food- Lots of desperate parents resort to this, but this expert says it’s a no-no, especially for picky eaters. She says the problem with hiding veggies or other food in foods they will eat doesn’t educate kids about why those veggies are good for them. Her advice? Keep putting them on their plate and eventually they’ll be curious enough to try it.
- You’re short-order cooking- Being too accommodating is a mistake, but so is a “one family, one meal” approach. Largeman-Roth suggests a more flexible idea, like offering two options for dinner, maybe one without meat if you have a kid who won’t eat that. Or for taco night, you can just put all the ingredients in a bowl and let the kids add their own fillings themselves.
- You don’t model good eating in front of them- It’s tough to encourage kids to eat their greens if they never see you do it! Show them what adventurous eating looks like by loading your plate with a variety of things, even if they’re not your favorite, and maybe your kid will be willing to try them.
- At some point, you just give up- It can be exhausting to try to get your picky eater to try new things, but try to stay patient and open-minded. Keep exposing them to different colors, textures and types of food and remember that it can take time for kids to develop a palate. And don’t be afraid of cheese, ranch, or hummus for dipping something they refuse to try.