Don’t Try To Trick Your Picky Eater

As I was browsing the internet reading information on feeding, I came across something that irritated me yet didn’t surprise me at all.

The idea is to trick our kids into eating healthy. For example, make chocolate chip cookies and put a vegetable puree in the batter to make it “healthy”. This is a problem because it is not teaching our children to eat healthy. It is teaching them to eat junk food. The people selling this information are preying on everyone’s desire for a quick fix.

There Are Better Ways To Make Sure Our Children Eat Healthy.

Do you remember your mother preparing separate meals for you and your siblings every night? Probably not.

I can say this with confidence because as a feeding therapist I discuss this issue on a regular basis with parents of my clients. And we all remember our mothers cooking food and us eating it.

Of course we had preferences which led to eating more one night and less another night. But we ate.

I even remember when I was younger and my mother would cook liver. The thought of it still turns my stomach.

However, she would not cook me my own meal. On that night I might eat extra sides, or even leave the table a little hungry. It was not the end of the world. I didn’t starve.

Back then, picky eating was not the widespread problem that it is today. Neither was obesity.

To end picky eating the rule of thumb should be that one meal is cooked each night, and you either eat it or you don’t eat.

There are some other strategies that can help ease the transition from picky eating. But it really is a simple process.

Even though it may not seem that way at the moment, giving in is the hard way. Giving in means you’re going to continue cooking separate meals every night, instead of one meal for everyone.

There Are Exceptions To The Rule

When it comes to children with allergies and certain special needs, other arrangements for meals should be made. While a picky eater won’t starve himself a problem or resistant eater might.

Regardless, picky eating can be overcome even with children who have special needs and/or allergies.

Don’t get me wrong, when you do cook, suggestions for making food healthier is extremely helpful and beneficial.

However always having cookies, healthy or not, to keep your children happy does not teach your children that cookies are a food that are not healthy and should only be eaten sometimes.

As parents we want to make our children happy. Watching them enjoy what they are eating feels good and avoiding battles over food sounds tempting.

But do not give up serving healthy food that looks like healthy food.

Your children will eat when they are hungry. They will also thank you in the future when they are strong and healthy adults with good eating habits.

I thank my mother on a regular basis for feeding me lots of fruits and vegetables (I know this sounds strange, but I deal with picky eaters everyday, so I’m happy my mom taught me to eat right).

Because of her I will almost always go for a piece of fruit, rather than a chocolate bar. Or cut vegetables rather than chips.

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic. How and what we are feeding our children is a huge factor in that. But “tricking” them is not the answer. It is a disservice to our children and to us.

So please think back to when you were a child, and trust me, it’s never too late to stop picky eating. Your children will thank you.

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Isa Marrs

Isa Marrs is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in articulation, pragmatic language and feeding disorders in children. Read More