What parent doesn’t have a picky eater? At least at times. Recently, Jennifer Motl, a registered dietitian shared her own experience with a picky eater and gave parents some advice on what the latest research shows (Bright Eating). Her tips modified for this blog are:
Model Good Eating habits – your children are always observing what you do and what you say. So eat healthy foods in front of your child and say how much you like it. Motl shared how her son started eating radishes because his grandfather liked them on his salad.
Make up Creative names for foods – Cornell researchers found school age kids ate 99% more broccoli when it was called “Tiny Tasty Treetops”. They also ate more green beans when they were labeled, “Silly Dilly Green Beans”.
Slice some foods – perhaps because they are easier to pick up and eat but researchers at Cornell found children ate more apple slices than a whole apple. I’ve seen so many children take the tiniest bite out of a whole apple and then throw the rest away. Apple slices are just easier to eat for children. Similarly, children ate more kernel corn than corn on the cob and more cut up chicken than a chicken drumstick. So think of how you are serving the food and maybe slicing some of it would make it more appealing to your child. Motl noted she was going to try more fruit salads, chopped salads and carrot sticks with a dip.
Read books about food and then serve a food from the book – Choose a book with plenty of pictures of foods. Some books Motl suggested are:
- Lois Ehlert, Eating the Alphabet
- Lisa Moser, Perfect Soup
- Jim Helmore, Oh No, Monster Tomato!
Take children to a farmer’s market and have them choose a vegetable to try. At the grocery store, point out different fruits and vegetables. Plant a garden and grow some fresh vegetables. Have your child help cut some chives or parsley from your garden.
Don’t Force a Child to Eat – this just usually ends up being a power struggle. Offer the food, but let the child decide how much they will eat. Many child care centers have the “one bite” rule. They encourage the child to at least take one bite of a new food. Many children then decide they like it and eat it, but if now, at least they tried it. Motl noted experts say have a child try one bite of everything on the table. Also, serving the child’s favorite food when trying a new food may also get the child to eat more of the new food or at least they will have something to eat if they don’t like the new food.
Read more about healthier and happier meal times at: http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/.