Clever Tricks to Get Your Picky Eating Child Back to Eating Ways!

A child with picky eating disorder eats insufficient food, is unwilling to try out new recipes, and dislikes vegetables and fruits.

Your picky eating child will want to eat food selectively, with a preference for sweetened and fast foods over whole-grain meals and vegetables.

At the end of the day, she will eat less food than is necessary for growth and her overall well-being, and this may impact her timely achievement of development milestones.

There are no cutout years when the picky eating habit kicks in, but it is common in one-year-olds or thereabouts.

At this age, the little ones are grappling with new discoveries and distractions and are tasked to choose from an array of foods – some of which do not make sense to them.

They will naturally favor sweet, salty, oily, and candies and disregard food types that taste flat and yet offer nutritional value.

The picky eating ‘disorder’ affects close to a third of children around the world and may persist in some of them up until they are 7.

When this happens, the eating problem has probably graduated to a more disturbing habit known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). This may happen because your child is extremely anxious, and is avoiding certain foods for fear of death and other reasons.

A typical picky eater may exhibit some or all of the following traits:

  • Eats less food than is necessary
  • Has a limited set of preferred foods
  • Wants food prepared in certain ways only
  • Is unwilling to try new food types
  • Dislikes vegetables
  • Not interested in fruits

The disorder can happen because of the following:

  • A reflection of similar behavior in the parent
  • Sensitivity to food types
  • Inappropriate feeding patterns
  • Bad cooking
  • Pressure to eat
  • Unfavorable eating environment
  • Excessive calorie intake before mealtimes

Here are the fun tricks to get your picky eating child back to eating ways

Whereas you probably need not lose sleep over picky eating, you may want to get worried if it continues for long and your child’s overall health is affected.

Still, a few tricks listed below should be good enough to have your picky eating child back to eating ways.

serve just a little for a picky eater
(Image by avitalchn from Pixabay)

1.  Prioritize mealtimes

The eating habits of parents, siblings, and everyone else in the house are critical in ensuring the new member in the family adopts healthy eating habits.

Toddlers basically look on and mimic everything they see around them, and this includes the eating habits of siblings and other family members.

They will pick up whatever habits that are prevalent in the house. They will want to stay away from leafy green vegies if that is what they see. On the other hand, your child will value fruits, veggies, and all the suspect servings if you and others around the dinner table are relishing them.

Further still, the atmosphere around the dining table will make your child want to dislike the suspect food types. The show of interest or lack of it will tell the little one whether the food being served is good or bad.

It is important that everyone likes and enjoys the food placed before them.

2.  Exercise patience & creativity

It is pointless to get hyper if your child loses interest in select nutritious foods, or fails to develop interest at all. Instead, establish a communication channel and creative means to make food appealing.

It is the child alone with the right idea why one type of food is good and another one bad.

Start by paying attention to the little details. Notice when your child pulls out food bites immediately after placing them in the mouth. Their taste buds are rejecting these foods, and only time will prepare them to change their mind.

Be willing to try out a variety of foodstuffs to make this exercise easy. Blend in a mix of colors, aroma, and taste.

At 2 years and over, discuss with her the benefits that come with eating certain types of food in place of others.

3. Portion matters

The younger children don’t often eat as much food and should not be forced to eat beyond their abilities. Toddlers may only need up to 1/4 of a cup of liquid, and a small portion of a fruit serving.

Anything beyond that could derail her eating drive. Increase the quantify slowly, and only as she grows up.

4.  Implement set routines

The picky eating stage usually gets worse when a family lacks a properly laid out eating schedule. It is a recipe for disaster when everyone is juggling cookies, juice, and other crackers every other time.

Your child should not be snacking 30 minutes before a full meal. With a partially filled stomach, your child will not eat sufficiently the now ‘planned’ meal.

Restricted time frames will ensure your child is hungry enough to eat most of the foodstuff served before her. Three full meals a day is good enough with snacks and drinks served in between.

5. Involve the picky eater in your culinary plans

Seek the involvement of your child in purchasing and preparing meals. When out at the grocery store, get her to select the fruits and veggies she will want to eat, and not what you always want.

Better still, get her involved in gardening and seeding food types that add value to her health.

She should be part of the cooking in order to prepare what she wants and avoid complaints that food was not prepared well enough. Your child may not necessarily have experience in culinary matters but may teach you a thing or two.

You can also make food an important topic of discussion at home. For example, let the child know that carrots will improve eyesight and vegetables will help keep common colds and flu at bay. Better still, both are fantastic for skin health.

On the other end, let her know that excessive intake of sweets, soda, and cookies will spoil the teeth and actually precursors to weight gain and diseases such as diabetes.

6.  Physical activity may do the trick

It is no use forcing your child to eat the food he/she finds repelling. This may actually ferment the picky eating habit even further. She will probably assume that eating undesired food goes along with force.

Occasionally, use the hunger bait to get the job done. This may mean tweaking the eating schedule a little bit.

To do this, leave her to play outdoors until hunger starts to bite. When she runs indoors in search of what to eat have your preferred meals scattered around the house. 

Preferable treats include bananas, apples, pineapples, jackfruit, and whatever else is applicable. This should just about do the trick!

Monitor these impromptu mealtimes to ensure they are done correctly. Add other healthy foods in the mix but caution must be taken to protect children from extended spells of hunger.

This can easily become a breeding ground for other complications such as stomach ulcers.

7.  Mealtimes minus technology

Smartphone and tablet indulgence can also eat away a chunk of the dining hours if left unchecked.

Research shows that a third of smartphone owners worldwide check their social platforms even as they eat.

And now, with increasing mobility and families not having meals together, the habit is becoming hard to combat. After all, nobody is around to monitor and caution the errant eaters.

Ensure this is not happening at the dinner table in your house. Endeavor to make mealtimes tech-free and you will probably get your child back to eating ways.

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