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Tips on living with a picky eater

Do you have a picky eater in your family? You’re not alone!  It’s a real life challenge for parents to feed their choosy eaters. Trust me, as a Mom I know the feeling of worry about whether my kids will go hungry during the day. As a dietitian I look at the research to offer you nutrition insights and practical tips to help you deal with your picky eater.

picky eaters

Why picky?

Choosy eating may be your child’s attempt to make decisions or assert themselves which is a part of growing up. What children eat varies depending on their appetite, activity level and growth spurt.  Kids’ taste buds are more sensitive to flavours than adults’ and they might avoid stronger tasting foods. Choosy eating may also be at attempt at seeking your attention.

Tips for dealing with picky eaters.

According to the research of Ellyn Satter a dietitian expert, parents and children have different roles in feeding and at mealtimes. Parents’ job is to decide what foods are served, at what time and where the foods will be eaten. Children decide what they eat and how much from the foods that they are offered.

If this sounds like a lot to take on all at once, consider making small changes as a start. Relax, be patient and arm yourself with practical solutions to handle the ups and downs of picky eaters. Soon you will enjoy happier meal times!

  • Stock your kitchen with child friendly nutritious foods and involve your child in choosing a recipe or meal planning and shopping which can help them become more interested in new foods.
  • It’s OK if kids eat a small amount because they are not hungry at a mealtime. Offer 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks at regular times each day to make sure kids come to meals hungry and ready to eat.
  • Propose a couple of food choices and allow your child to make decisions from what you offered. Consider offering foods from within the same food group to supply similar nutrients. For example picking between a cereal or granola bar could be a choice. If melons are rejected, apples or bananas are good alternatives.
  • Boost nutrition by mixing food groups in your kids ‘meals and snacks. For example pair whole fruit like apple or banana with whole grains such as cereals or granola. MadeGood® Organic Granola Minis and Bars are portable snacks made with grains, dried fruit and vegetables.
  • Make mealtime fun. Cut food into interesting shapes and use delicious words to tantalize the taste buds.
  • Be a role model. Offer samples of healthy, nutritious food and enjoy it yourself.
  • Seek support from credible experts such as registered dietitians about making food times pleasurable with your family.

Author: Lucia Weiler is a Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist) and Professional Home Economist with a passion for food, health and wellness. She is the President of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc. a consulting practice that provides expert services in nutrition trends, education, food safety and labelling compliance.  Lucia is a pro at translating the science of nutrition into easy to understand, practical advice for Canadians. She is faculty at Humber College and Member of the Board of Directors for Dietitians of Canada.For more insightful nutrition tips visit www.weilernutrition.com or follow on Twitter/Instagram @LuciaWeilerRD

References: Dietitians of Canada, Nutrition Month (2017);   Duyff, AND Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (2017)