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​​​At the TableIssue12345

Most Kids Are Picky, Have Fun With It!

Few things in life are ​more frustrating than watching​ a ​meal you spent time and money to make get pushed aside with disgust by your child. Acting as a short-order cook in your home can lead to frustration for everyone, and that’s not what anyone wants. Here are some tips for dealing with a picky eater.

  1. When it comes to trying new foods, love by association can go a long way. Provide reasonable portion sizes of favorite foods alongside smaller portions of less-favorite foods. Make the rule that to earn second helpings of favorite foods, children must finish not-so-favorite foods first. 
  2. Create a Yuck List. Remember that everyone wants to have choices and feel like they have control over what they put in their own bodies. Children aren’t any different. Create a Yuck List, and allow each child to add three items to it. If a food isn’t on the Yuck List, then they have to try it.

    This is a simple way to provide children with autonomy and keep the conversation on track. When they say, “Why do I have to eat my peas?” you can respond with, “Because you didn’t put it on your Yuck List.” It’s certainly more effective than saying, “Because I said so!” As their palates broaden, your children may even remove items from their list. 
  3. When children try new foods, provide positive reinforcement to them. Praise their bravery and willingness to eat something they were unsure of. Don’t bribe, lecture, or argue with children at mealtime, though. If they are going to eat, they’ll eat within the first 20 minutes of dinner. Once dinner is over, it’s over. Don’t force children to eat, and don’t force them to clean their plates. You can always wrap up leftovers and reheat them in a day or two. If you push children, the result will be tension, not togetherness at the dinner table. 
  4. Finally, don’t worry. Children go through phases. Just because they aren’t eating peas this month doesn’t mean they won’t eat them next month. Continue to offer their nonpreferred foods on a rotating basis, and eventually they might come around.

Dinnertime Activity

Take the Family Taste Test

Make a special family field trip to the grocery store. Have your children select three items they haven’t tried before. Determine and discuss the parameters before you go. All fruits? Two fruits and one vegetable? What if they choose the premade sushi? Try to give them as much control over their selections within the boundaries you establish. The goal is to have fun and encourage experimenting with new foods, flavors, and textures.

  1. When you return home, invite your children to set the plates, napkins, and silverware while you prepare their selections.
  2. Get creative! Prepare the same item different ways. Serve peas raw, cooked, and frozen. Try sliced mango plain or with a little chili powder and salt.
  3. Make a home movie out of it: The Great Family Taste-Test Challenge!
  4. Make sure you are part of the action and sample foods right along with your kids.

conversation starter​

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have ​three foods, what would they be?

Coming up in Issue 4

How to Get the Whole Family Involved


Fill My Cup


Dinner With Anyone, Who Would It Be?​

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