How to help your picky eater eat different foods
As a feeding therapist, parents are constantly telling me they are frustrated because their picky eater eats the same thing all the time. So, I am here to give you one simple strategy to help your picky eater eat more variety.
One of the rules that I discuss with many families is to rotate foods. Why? How? So, the why behind this rule is because many parents get in the rut of serving the same thing over and over.
Kids, and especially picky eaters are more likely to get tired of the same food and remove it from their diet. This can leave you feeling desperate and worried about getting good nutrition into your child.
I am guilty at times of this too. You find a food that your child likes and actually eats, and you find yourself making it A LOT. If you are a parent of a picky eater, then you know all too well how this goes.
Your child is eating up this food then POOF…. they suddenly stop eating it and sometimes they don’t go back to it. Then you feel like you don’t know what to do and you are back at square one.
Some parents can even feel desperate to find a food their child will eat and that’s when pressure happens. Pressuring a child to eat only pushes a child further away from trying it.
For those kids that don’t have much variety in their diet this can make parents feel worried, stressed, and desperate to get in foods that fuel their kids.
Rotating foods helps to avoid these “food jags” as they are referred to in the feeding therapy world. Rotating foods helps to expose your child to a variety of foods and helps to decrease the possibility that they will get burnt out on that one preferred food.
Another thing I see a lot with picky eaters is that they rarely get exposed to new foods because parents are putting foods on their plates that they know their child will eat.
But…did you know that a child is significantly less likely to try a food if they haven’t been exposed to it several times? Plus, many picky eaters are not even engaging with these foods. If they haven’t been exposed they aren’t getting the experience to see, touch, or smell a food. Let alone eat it.
Rotating foods is a simple way for you to learn how to increase variety in your picky eater’s diet. Exposure and variety are key!
4 ways to rotate foods for your picky eater
- Rotate foods every few days. Every three-four days try switching up those veggies you are offering. If you have had broccoli on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, then by Thursday a new veggie needs to be offered. Also, make sure to serve foods in different ways. Waffles can be served whole, cut up in sqaures or strips. Served with maple syrup, peanut butter, chocolate topping, jelly, fruit, etc. Chicken nuggets can be bought in strips or nuggets, served grilled, baked, or fried. Also you can buy different brands. This helps your picky eater learn that a food can look different but ultimately taste similar.
- Try to give different foods (from the same food groups) at each meal. For example, instead of offering raspberries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner TRY offering raspberries at breakfast, apples at lunch, and grapes at dinner. Of course, you don’t have to offer a fruit at every meal but look at the variety and exposure your little one got in just one day? Plus the variety builds up and variety is what keeps our insides going strong! Even if they don’t eat it right away just know you are one step closer.
- Most of the time parent’s worry a lot over what their child is not eating. The worry can take over and interfere with parents giving new foods. Fear of your child not eating that new food is typically what stops parents from trying. If you have a child that you know will only eat strawberries then it’s totally okay to offer a small amount of strawberries with a new fruit. Slowly work your way down to where you don’t have to offer them strawberries with another fruit. Check out my interview with Your Kids Table HERE to see how I stopped worrying and started making progress with my picky eater.
- Lastly, don’t get discouraged if you put a new food on your child’s plate and they don’t eat it. It can take time. There are several different stages a child must go through before they actually eat a food. If you find your child is not engaging in a new food, then bring attention to it by making a comment about it “I think those carrots are going to be crunchy” or “what do you think weighs more this pea or carrot?”. Remember if your child is not engaging or touching a food they are not ready to eat it yet. So, the first step is engaging. Please don’t pressure or bribe, this will get you nowhere in the long term of healthy, happy eating. Again, make mealtimes fun and pleasurable.
There is so much joy and progress that starts when parents can start to make the mindset shift in regards to their picky eater. This shift allows for you to start rotating foods and increasing exposure of foods to your lil one.
My worry consumed me and once I got past what I was worrying about things started to fall into place and I was able to truly start helping my picky eater. Check out my post HERE. I hope reading this blog post helps you make the shift as well.