Dealing with Picky Eaters

How do you feed them healthy foods when all they want to eat is mac and cheese at every meal?


Kids can be notoriously picky eaters. So how do you feed them healthy foods when all they want to eat is mac and cheese at every meal?

If your kids are little, start them early on healthy "adult" foods as soon as they start eating solid foods. Grind or mash up peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc., so they get used to them instead of "kid" foods like hot dogs and grilled cheese.

Plan meals to include at least one thing that everyone likes and serve one meal for everyone in the family with no exceptions. Preparing different foods for everyone is time consuming, and it takes much longer for children to learn to like new foods.

If your kids refuse to eat what’s on their plate, don’t punish them. But don’t give them a less-healthy alternative, either. If they won’t eat what’s on their plate, don’t make a big deal out of it. Kids will eat what’s available if they’re hungry, and they’ll realize they can’t manipulate you into getting what they want.

Kids are more likely to taste a dish if they helped plan or prepare it. Let kids choose veggies in the supermarket produce section or frozen food aisle and let them help you stir, chop or measure ingredients. If they contribute to a project that they are proud to share, they’ll be more likely to try the food and enjoy it.

Make eating fruits and vegetables fun by offering them brightly colored food from the rainbow every day. Kids love colors and they love challenges, so make it fun by encouraging them to keep track of every color they eat.

Limit the amount of snacks your kids eat—they can have a healthy snack when they get home from school, then they have to wait until dinnertime. If they’re hungry before the meal, give them slices of the vegetables you’re preparing for dinner.

The most important thing you can do to help kids become healthy eaters is to be a role model yourself. Don’t chow down on a bag of chips before dinner as you’re telling them to eat an apple. Kids learn by watching adults, so you should eat healthy, too.


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