August 8, 2020

Getting Picky Eaters to Try New Foods by Kristen Yarker, R.D.

Child-Feeding Expert Child Feeding Expert’s Secret Tip for Using Packed Lunches to Get Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

It’s back to school. Which is the perfect time for me to share this secret tip that’s been super successful with my picky eater clients.

In the 6 years that I’ve worked with Moms and Dads of picky eaters, I’ve noticed that almost every family makes the same mistake. The only time that they offer their picky child a challenging food is at dinner. (Note that a “challenging food” is either a new food or one that their child has seen many times but refuses to eat). This backfires because even toddlers and preschoolers will notice this pattern. And so they will refuse to eat, act out, or come up with any other excuse not to come to the table and eat dinner. For many kids, picky eating stems from being afraid of the food. It’s a developmental stage that I call “food-wariness”. Instead of facing their fears, kids will do everything that they can to avoid the dreaded challenging food.

The first step to getting these kids to try new foods on their own is to have them become accustomed to seeing a new food in front of them. It’s the first baby step in overcoming their fear. By frequently presenting a new food, they become accustomed to the food’s presence. Thus they become more confident. Eventually that confidence, along with their desire to grow up, is what motivates them to try new foods.

So what’s this secret, successful tip that I promised to share?
Include challenging foods in packed lunches.

Now take note that I’m not saying to pack a lunch that only includes challenging foods. What I’m saying is to frequently (not necessarily every day) pack one challenging food along with your child’s favorites. The “bento-box” style lunch kits make it easy to include a challenging food because the challenging food won’t touch your child’s favorites. And, we all know how much young kids don’t like their foods to touch.
Even if your fussy eater doesn’t eat the challenging food, you’re building their food-confidence because you’re helping them become accustomed to seeing a challenging food in front of them. And, what’s even better is that you don’t have to watch your child not eat it (which I know drives so many parents nuts)!

Child-feeding expert Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky). Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at: kristenyarker.com

Healthy Eating for Kids (Even Picky Eaters) by Kristen Yarker R.D.

Summer Inspires Healthy Eating for Kids (Even Picky Eaters)

I LOVE summer! Not because of it’s lazy, hazy days, but because it’s the easiest time of year to get kids (even picky eaters) excited about trying fruits and vegetables. Summer is the time for vegetable gardens and Farmers’ Markets! Both of which are fantastic ways to get kids interested in trying new foods. Why are these such powerful tools for getting kids to eat vegetables?

 

It’s All Mine: Toddlers and Preschoolers are in what I call the “me do it” stage. Independence, skill mastery, and learning how the world works are all highly important. Growing vegetables uses this developmental stage to your advantage. Many children will eat vegetables that they’ve grown themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t have touched with a 10-foot pole.

Variety is Inspiring: When you grow your own and visit the Farmers’ Market you get to experience a huge variety of vegetables and fruit that you won’t find in a grocery store. Engage your child’s innate curiosity to compare and contrast.

Veggies, Veggies, Everywhere: We’re creatures of our environment. What’s even better than role modeling eating veggies? Spending time growing veggies and at locations where everyone eats veggies – a.k.a. the Farmers’ Market! The underlying message that you’re teaching your child is that it’s normal to eat vegetables. This is a great way to counteract all the advertising that kids are exposed to for highly processed junk foods.

It’s Obvious Where It Comes From: Picky eaters are often little conspiracy theorists, highly suspicious of the food that suddenly appears on the plate in front of them. In contrast, when you grow a food yourself, you know exactly where it comes from. At a Farmers’ Market, all the food is out in the open. You’re encouraged to touch, smell, and meet the person who grew the veggies and fruit.

I want to end with a cautionary note. The effectiveness of these summer hobbies to inspire your picky eater to try new foods is related to the attitude that you bring. Yes, you! Make sure that you’re open to and excited about trying new veggies and fruit. Be a vegetable growing, buying, and eating role model!

Child-feeding expert Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky). Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at: kristenyarker.com