picky kids

How To Reform Your Picky, Junk Food Eater

August 26, 2010 at 6:50 am , by

p_101363623It’s so green. I hate vegetables. I want meatballs, only!  Does any of this sound familiar? Then you may be one of the many mothers out there who think pleasing the picky eaters at your table is next to impossible. And, be assured, there are lots of you.  In fact I just spoke to TV stations across the country – from Atlanta, to Kansas City, to Salt Lake City – to share the good news:  every picky eater can be reformed! Here are a few great tips to turn “eww ” into “mmm” in healthy and budget-friendly ways.

Try new, healthier varieties of old favorites. Kids are more likely to dismiss something because it looks foreign to them. A great trick is to replace foods they already eat with the whole grain variety. Chef Boyardee, for instance, now offers some of its most popular pastas in whole grain, so you can serve up a wholesome meal that includes protein, a full serving of vegetables and now whole grains.

Make meals look mini. Smaller serving dishes or bowls are a great illusion.  Kids will think there’s less of a particular serving and it makes it more manageable, when in reality the bowl might just be deeper or the meal piled on.

Decorate your food. Think about throwing a bit of shaved cheese on top of the meal.  It can help divert attention from what the cheese is supplementing, and add flavor.

Get kids involved in preparation. Kids are more likely to eat something they’ve helped prepare. Set them up with small tasks, like peeling or measuring (or shaving that cheese!). Cooking with kids teaches them a skill, gets them invested in their meal, and is time well-spent together. Also, let them have ownership over some of their food decisions.

Make snacking smart, healthy and fun. It’s tempting to go for the cookies and sweets for that after school snack, but that can make kids hyped-up on sugar and too full for dinner.  Try to offer snacks that pack in protein and flavor like Sabra Hummus’ 2 oz servings paired with SunChips multigrain snacks (18 grams of whole grains per serving) or Tostitos Scoops (8 grams per serving). The dipping and scooping add an element of activity to these perfect sized snacks.

Don’t break the bank.  Remember that eating healthy doesn’t have be a financial burden. In fact, the free site ShopAtHome.com has the largest collection (over 1,200!) of printable grocery coupons, as well as coupons to your favorite restaurants and even free products samples.

If you have a picky eater, what are some of your tricks?