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Three tips to make your picky eater an adventurous eater

Picky eaters can make mealtime treacherous for parents.

Despite best efforts to encourage kids to eat a variety of foods and try new foods, it can be a battle to break out of a food rut.

Check out these three tips to try to get your picky eaters to stretch their comfort zone and become more adventurous eaters!

Get kids involved. Picky eaters are more likely to eat foods they had a part in choosing or preparing. Include them in the process by:

  • planting seeds to grow their own foods, like tomatoes or green peppers;
  • taking kids to the grocery store or farmer’s market to pick out a new food to try;
  • giving kids age-appropriate tasks in preparing meals, such as washing produce, cutting and peeling items, roasting the vegetables they picked out, stirring pots, or dishing the meal for everyone;
  • having a family meal bar where kids can build their own meal with different toppings for meals like tacos, baked potatoes, salads, and sandwiches;
  • and having kids come up with their own creative names for new recipes they try.

Offer new foods along with familiar foods. It can take 20 or more exposures to a new food before a child will accept it, so having a new food on the plate with familiar foods provides an opportunity to check out the new food and have comfort in the familiarity of a known food. It takes some pressure off the new food for the child to know that they have something there to eat that is “safe.”

Recognize division of responsibility. In nourishing children, the parents and kids both have jobs. Parents decide what will be served and when it will be served, and children decide whether they want to eat and how much they want to eat. Allowing kids this autonomy can feel scary, but it enhances kids’ ability to listen to their own body cues. Sometimes a child may choose not to eat, but rest assured that a child WILL eat when they are hungry, even if their first choice for food might not be what is served at a meal.

Jamie Marchetti, RDJamie Marchetti, MS, RDN, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at Campbell County Health. For a one-on-one nutrition counseling session, call 307.688.1731. Learn more at www.cchwyo.org/diet.