Are Your Bad Eating Habits Feeding Your Picky Eater?
Are you struggling with a picky eater? Well, their bad eating habits might just be a reflection of yours!
As a culture, we aren’t exactly known for having the best relationship with food. And it’s not just because of all the fried, sugary, and salty snacks either! We have an odd distrust of food. But, it’s like…the inverse of any other country’s distrust.
Whereas most other people would like to pick a sun-ripened apple off a meadow’s tree or forage for mushrooms in the forest, or pick wild strawberries, we squirm at the thought it could have bugs.
Whereas most other people would love to feed their children an organic chicken leg au naturel, we would rather have the animal protein stripped of its animal form (and probably of its protein too) shaped instead as microwavable alphabet letters, or trains, or dinosaurs.
Whereas most other people generally approach trying a new foreign restaurant with enthusiasm, we would rather stuff ourselves on bread, politely say we’ve had a late lunch, and indulge in a microwavable dinner back at home.
If any of this sounds remotely like you, there are probably a few of your own bad habits that are feeding your picky eater. Be aware of your own influence and nix some of the behaviors that are depriving your little ones of some great eats! Here’s how:
DO NOT sniff suspiciously at your plate of food when it arrives at a restaurant or dinner party. Don’t prod it with your fork. Don’t pick at it. It is food. It will not kill you. It will nourish you.
DO NOT ever say something tastes gross! Unless it’s processed empty calories. Even then, you might just want to keep words like gross or disgusting for describing things other than food!
DO NOT make negative comments on what other people eat. Be it frog legs, snails, duck embryos, goat cheese, or simply Brussels sprouts. It is food to someone and while you may not know or like that particular food, it’s not only basic manners; it’s a great lesson for your picky eater.
DO keep an open mind! The more you show that you’re willing to try new things, so will your child.
DO NOT tell your child to eat their vegetables because “they’re good for them.” Instead, tell them to eat them and other healthy foods because they’re delicious! Your job is to educate your child’s palate. Just as you have to teach them how to read or write, the difference between good and bad behavior, and all sorts of other things, so too, are you responsible to teach them how to taste. There are a lot of flavors and textures to discover and learning what’s delicious is a matter of training – hence the term “an acquired taste”. Have them taste the same fruits and vegetables on a regular basis and continually introduce new ones.
DO NOT cover everything in ranch, ketchup, or melted cheese to mask their natural flavors. Let broccoli be broccoli, carrots be carrots, and so on. Instead of teaching your child to love one flavor like ketchup or cheese, help them to appreciate a whole variety.
DO NOT hide vegetables in the sauce. While you might feel good about getting those vitamins in your kids, you’re only developing a crutch. You want your child to make healthy decisions even when they’re at school, on a playdate, or at a party. Continue to feed them fruits and veg in their true form.
DO NOT leave the veggies on your plate! Be a sport. You want your child to eat their greens? So should you. Set an example and stick to it. Your child will eventually follow.
DO NOT give into the kid’s menu. Sure, it’s priced better but you’ll always be offering up grilled cheese, chicken tenders, hot dogs, and other poor eats. Order up real adult meals at a restaurant and split them amongst kids or share them yourself. And never ever make “kid’s meals” at home… you’ll only be feeding that nasty habit.
DO have your child participate at the grocery store and in the kitchen. While children + kitchen often = mess, headache, and anxiety, it’s important to have them participate in food selection and preparation. Have them pick out a new fruit or veg at the market and find a recipe to make together at home. Or have them be in charge of easy meal preparation tasks. Increased exposure will only help you.
Do you have any odd food habits that are rubbing off on your picky eater?
Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
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