Placating The Picky Eater
Placating The Picky Eater
We’re very fortunate that our children are, for the most part, easy to feed. None of them have turned out to be particularly picky eaters, although like all children they have gone through stages of being more or less particular about certain foods. And of course, they have foods they like and dislike just as we do.
But from speaking with friends, and from a couple of particularly horrible experiences with family visits, we’re very aware that not everyone shares our good fortune. So, if you’re faced with a picky eater, what are your options? Rather than suggest specific foods that you might use to tempt your picky eater, I’m instead going to set out some basic guidelines for handling the issue.
It’s unlikely that your child will be able to inflict any real and lasting damage on their health by fussy eating habits. They may be able to wreak havoc on your mental health, but that will have to wait for another article! Cases of young children starving themselves to death in Western society are pretty rare, and your preschooler’s unwillingness to eat anything green won’t lead to scurvy. (*Please see the note at the end of this article for an important disclaimer.)
Week by week
You’ll drive yourself nuts if you look at your child’s eating habits meal-by-meal … the chances of them eating a nutritious, balanced, satisfying meal at any given moment are not so high, especially if they’ve decided that today’s the day they only want to eat noodles with ketchup. Much better to look at how they’ve been eating over a day, or even better, over a week. So long as the week holds a reasonable balance of fruits and vegetables; proteins, carbs, & healthy fats; dairy products; and treats, they’ll be fine.
Be flexible, but not a pushover
It’s important to remember that you’re the parent here, and it’s OK for you to decide what the family’s eating tonight. There’s no need for you to become a short order cook, making chicken nuggets for one person, spaghetti for another, sauce with garlic for a third, sauce without mushrooms for a fourth … etc. Choose what you’re making for dinner, and if someone doesn’t want to eat it, that’s their choice. If they’re ravenous they’ll probably give it a try, and if not, there’ll be more for everyone else. One night feeling a little hungry isn’t a tragedy.
At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to adjust recipes slightly to allow kids some choices. If you’re making fettuccine, serve the vegetables (onions, mushrooms, or whatever else) on the side and those who want them can add them. If a recipe calls for curry spices or chili, keep their use to a minimum and serve the kids first. You can then add a little more spice for the adults who prefer their food less bland. A plate of cut vegetables and some salad greens lets everyone at the table make their own salad, rather than watching your four year old pick out the scallions one by one.
Master of Disguise
A couple of my friends have kids who simply weren’t gaining weight in proportion to their age. For older kids this can be a real challenge, and my advice was to start disguising what they were serving. Muffins with carrot or zucchini can help with vegetable intake, but the best disguise of all is to make fruit smoothies.
For kids who turn up their noses at fruit it’s an excellent way to have them eat fruit, and smoothies are much healthier than plain juice because they include the fiber. In the case of my friend’s kid they added full-fat yogurt, or even ice cream, to the smoothies to make them more calorie dense.
The trick to smoothies is to use a variety of frozen fruits, and to always include frozen bananas. They add a delicious creaminess to the drink, almost like using ice cream. Fill the blender about half-way full with frozen fruit, add some plain or vanilla yogurt, and top up with orange juice till the blender’s around three-quarters full. You may need to pulse the blender a little to make sure everything’s mixed in, and it will probably take longer than you think to finish blending. Leftover smoothies make great ice pops; use some of the plastic molds available an you’ll always have healthy snacks on hand.
Picky eaters can be a challenge, but it’s one that can be overcome. Bon appetit!
Disclaimer: I do want to be clear about one thing. In this article I’m referring to young children who are fussy eaters, NOT to older children who may be suffering from eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia. The causes and effects of such disorders are far beyond the scope of my knowledge, and the dangers they can create need professional medical attention.
Source : parentalinstinc
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