Parents, if there is one piece advice I wish you would follow it’s this: Tricks for picky eaters don’t work.
My picky eater recently discovered he likes fresh spinach with ranch dressing. He won’t take it cooked on pizza or mixed in with pasta, but if I set aside a few fresh leaves on his plate and he’ll chomp it down. Another entry in his copy of My Food Notebook! This kid usually avoids salads and fresh vegetables with a passion, so this was a huge victory for healthy eating.
But when we ran out of fresh spinach and our CSA sent us Romaine lettuce, we were faced with a dilemma.
Do we put the Romaine on his plate and tell him it’s spinach?
That’s when I realized: Tricks for picky eaters are not worth it.
Setting aside the dishonesty for a moment, just do the math.
He already likes spinach. If he likes Romaine, too, that’s 1+1 = 2 new fresh healthy foods to enjoy!
He already likes spinach. If we tell him the Romaine is spinach and he decides he doesn’t like it, that’s 1-1 = 0. We’ve just lost a food.
Honesty is the best policy. And you know what? He tried the Romaine because it looked like spinach, and he gave it a so-so rating. That’s better than a no!
Some parents hide vegetables in recipes in order to get their children to eat healthy, nutritious foods. I’m not throwing stones here, Moms and Dads. I’ve done it. I’m just saying that the payoffs for a kid understanding that they actually like healthy foods are big.
Imagine the bliss of seeing your child voluntarily eat fresh fruits and vegetables! Don’t trick your picky eater into eating them, help them find a way to enjoy them.
There are plenty of posts about tricks for picky eaters, but I’d rather help my kids learn ways to try new things. I believe it will help them when they are at school, at friend’s homes, at restaurants and more.
Simple ways to help picky eaters:
- Prepare the vegetable in a variety of ways.
- Ask the child to help you select the vegetable.
- Involve your child in cutting, cooking and serving the vegetable.
- Celebrate each time they try a new vegetable – don’t punish them for not trying it.