Most parents often face the same challenges when it comes to raising their children. One of them is when their kids become picky eaters. This could mean they don’t like certain foods or prefer certain textures, or only want to eat a specific meal on repeat. The result is an agonizing experience for parents who constantly try to get their kids to eat a more balanced diet. Whether you are currently dealing with picky eating or would like to be better prepared for the future, here are five key steps to help you raise your kids to be balanced eaters.
Dealing With Picky Eaters 101: Introduce Different Textures Early On
When it comes to feeding children, texture is one of the most important factors. Oftentimes, food aversions can happen as a result of limited exposure to a range of textures from an early age. It’s important to challenge your kid with textures over time as this will translate into increased food acceptance in the future. Start with purees. Experiment with thin, thick, soft, and chunky purees, and then move to whole boiled veggies.
Get the Kids in the Kitchen
Involving your kids in meal prep is a powerful way to engage them with their food as well as help them connect with each ingredient. It’s not only a fun experience for everyone involved, but it’s also a smart way to start conversations about food, veggies, spices, and herbs, and even tell stories about each.
Introduce Different Flavors Through Spices and Herbs
Spices and herbs can be your best friends in raising balanced eaters. They let you introduce a range of new flavors by using similar foods your kids already know and love. For example, you can take plain rise, oats, yogurt, or pasta, and season it with fresh or dried herbs and spices to introduce new flavors. You can even turn it into a game of “blind smelling.” Ask your kids to close their eyes and smell jars of different spices and guess which one is which. This will deepen their knowledge over time, and it can help them prepare their taste preferences for the future.
Bring Back the Family Meal
Just like with music, food memories are often imprinted for life. These are memories from spending time in the kitchen, cooking with our loved ones, having great conversations at the dinner table, and even family traditions involving food. With work, school, and other obligations, it can become increasingly difficult to find time for all of you to gather together for a meal, but it’s a key element in making sure your kids don’t grow up to be picky eaters.
Even if your kids are picky eaters, raising them to be more open-minded toward food is a process that requires time and patience on your part. In fact, research shows that kids may need to be offered food up to 15 times before they start to like it. It’s common for children to be hesitant to try new things, so the best you can do is keep up your efforts and constantly remind yourself that they will pay off, in time.