3 Tips for Managing and Solving Picky Eating

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How to manage and solve picky eating

Raising healthy eaters is especially challenging when you’re up against picky eating. While we don’t have the powers to cure picky eating overnight, we’ve come up with 3 must-do’s for every parent hoping to help their kids embrace healthier foods. Find out what they are in the video below. This video is a must-watch, especially because we introduce a special downloadable tool that will make discovering vegetables a lot more fun for your kids and way less of a headache for you!

Links mentioned in the video:
Our Guide to Enjoying Vegetables
Buy guide as a print
Get simple weeknight dinner recipes
Learn more about Ellyn Satter’s ‘Division of Responsibility’
Buy Karen LeBillon’s “Getting to Yum”
Leave a comment on YouTube

Our 3 Tips for Managing Picky Eating

Tip #1: Persistently introduce and expose your kids to the foods you know are healthy for them, even when you’re faced with, “No’s!” and reactions of, “That’s yucky!”

Let’s face it, it’s not just kids that don’t like new things. We adults often don’t like being forced to try new things either. Studies show that it can take a child anywhere between 7 to 20 exposures to a certain ingredient before she starts to feel familiar with that food. While that sounds like a lot of work for you, we’ve created a tool to make it much less overwhelming or stressful.

Our ‘Veggie Discovery Table’ helps you track your child’s encounters with different vegetables. Every time they are exposed to a vegetable on this list, they can put in a sticker in the box. If they didn’t like it, they can put a red sticker; if they liked it so-so, they get to put a yellow sticker; and if they loved it, they get to put a green sticker (Get stickers here). The goal of course is for all of these vegetables to become mostly green, and each dot helps you keep track of the number of times they’ve been exposed to that vegetable. This tool makes dinner an interactive process where kids really feel like their input is valued, captured, and noted! You can print one off for each child, laminate at a Kinko’s if you want, and hang on the fridge or keep in a binder for easy access at every meal. Our Veggie Discovery Table helps kids eat more veggies via Cook Smarts

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Get a print-friendly PDF version of our ‘Veggie Discovery Table’ for free when you sign up for our newsletter. Start making eating veggies fun for your kids (and less stressful for you)!

Tip #2: Take a page from Marry Poppins and use a spoonful of whatever tastes good to your kids to help the healthy vegetable medicine go down.
Kids not only have more taste buds than adults, but they also have a more acute sense of taste. Since a lot of vegetables just have a slight bitterness to them, it might mean your kids are tasting a more pronounced bitterness than we would sense. So to borrow a concept from Mary Poppins, toss your roasted vegetables with just a sprinkle of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup. Other things that might work are a vinaigrette, some yogurt or butter, a little lemon juice, a tomato sauce, or even ketchup. These will help make vegetables much more palatable to kids and make it easier for them to try new things.
Tip #3: Understand and practice Ellyn Satter’s ‘Division of Responsibility’: Parents are responsible for the what, when and where of feeding while children are responsible for the how much and whether of eating.
In other words, parents are responsible for providing healthy food options at structured meal and snack times. It’s up to the child to decide whether he / she will eat it and how much they’ll eat. Clearly no parent wants to see their kids go hungry, but your child is in touch with his / her appetite. If your kids eat less during one meal, they will likely eat more at their next designated mealtime and start to get used to a regular schedule of eating (vs. an irregular, emotion-driven schedule of snacking). Plus, adopting this philosophy removes the guilt that so many parents feel. If you provide healthy options at regular, scheduled times, you’re living up to your responsibility and doing your part to fight the good fight. Keep it up – we’re so impressed!

Thanks for helping us spread the smarts!

For a limited time only

Get a print-friendly PDF version of our ‘Veggie Discovery Table’ for free. Start making eating veggies fun for your kids (and less stressful for you)!