Tips for Getting Picky Eaters to Eat Healthy
I’m so over trying to get my three kids to eat kale. How about we agree that some foods—no matter how many times we offer them—aren’t going to get any love. And, no, I’m not going to hide the leafy, veiny greens in a shake, popsicle or brownie. I’m just going to move on. Yes, that’s right. I’m giving up on you, kale!
There must be a way to get my kids to eat healthy foods without resistance. And I’m talking quick, easy foods (I’m not the mom who pureed and pulverized produce into homemade baby food). I needed to feed my kids and meet my work deadlines.
I asked Jill Castle, registered dietitian/nutritionist and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School how to get up to speed with serving sure-thing healthy eats.
First, Castle says cut yourself some slack if you can’t get your kids to eat veggies. “Many fruits and vegetables provide cross-over nutrients—you can find similar nutrients like vitamins A and C in both fruit and vegetables,” she says. “You don’t want to give up introducing veggies, but you can relax a bit if your child is eating a variety of different fruit.”
Keep it simple. Kids do well with uncomplicated dishes. Always offer one or two things you know your child will eat and that can simply be milk and fruit! Sample dinner: quick pan-fried chicken, baked potato, fruit, green beans with Ranch (made with plain Greek yogurt) and milk.
Put your child in charge. Offer meals served family-style or in a buffet so your child can make his own choices.
Do dips. Feel free to use dips for veggies and flavor them with soy sauce, garlic, other spices and herbs.
Let snacks fill the gaps. See snacks as nutritional gap fillers—not the enemy. If your kids missed an important food group, add them in snacks. Think: orange slices, celery with peanut butter, cereal with milk or yogurt with berries.
Downplay new foods. You want to offer new foods (or standbys prepared in new ways), but without the pressure. Offer one new food at a time and don’t draw attention to it. If your child asks about it, nonchalantly say what it similar to. For example, “the pepper is crunchy like a pickle,” and encourage him to try a taste.
Maximize weekend prep. Make a meal plan, shop, chop and store over the weekend and after work, you’ll be ready to offer healthy eats instead of fast food. If you’re really ambitious, cook a couple of meals and freeze them for the upcoming week and always know that the slow cooker is your friend. Shoot for slow cooker meals twice a week. Load, power up and done!
By Julie Weingarden Dubin