8 tips for handling your picky little eaters

Ask your kids what they want for dinner and they'll try for sweets over veggies every time. As kids, we all did. Who wouldn't have eaten vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies instead of a healthy dinner, if only mom had let us?

But now, you have children of your own and you may be going through the same battle from the opposite side.

Figuring out what to do with your picky eaters can be a huge challenge, especially since they eat three meals and two or three snacks a day. However, there are several things you can do to lessen the stress and make sure your child is getting the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong.

Here are eight tips for handling your picky eater:

• Raw baby carrots are a perfect snack. Offer the full stick — they're the perfect size for little hands and fun for kids to be able to chew on themselves.

• Add some yogurt for veggie dipping. Yogurt with toast and banana slices for dipping is another perfect, healthy snack.

• Veggies go down a little easier when cooked in coconut milk. Pull out your chef's pan, pour in the coconut milk and toss in some chopped carrots, cauliflower, sliced mushrooms, fresh spinach and a can of chickpeas. You're sure to please almost any picky eater.

• Hide the sweets. You may need to remove the candy bowl from the coffee table. This is especially good to keep in mind as we enter the holiday season.

• Time meals and snacks. Setting a schedule not only helps little body clocks know what to expect, but it prevents us from doling out easy-to-grab foods while hastily pulling together a meal to feed our fussy little ones.

• Variety and repetition are important. It can take several tries to get a little one to try something, so don't give up. Variety helps little eaters get a balanced diet and not tire of the same veggies.

• Remember — not all meals are the same. Our tastes change. Sometimes, we're not hungry. Sometimes, we don't want broccoli. Little ones feel the same. Make certain you're offering your kids variety.

• Eat what your little ones are eating. Our children are great imitators of us. When our little eaters are served the same food we're eating, they're happy knowing they're getting the good stuff. So be sure to lead by example.

Every parent's goal is to provide a well-balanced, nutritious diet to help their children grow into strong, healthy adults, setting up the foods they love today as their go-to snacks when they're older. If you need more help with your picky eater, be sure to consult your child's doctor or a nutritionist.

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's column was provided by Ascension Illinois.

Variety and repetition are key to your child accepting new, nutritious foods. Stock photo
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.