I was a picky eater as a child, or as I like to call it, a selective eater. By having three little boys of my own, I understand the obstacles that parents have in getting their kids to eat nutritious snacks and meals. I am blessed to not have the challenges that my parents had with me; my kids are pretty good eaters. Still, here are some of my meal and snack ideas for all kids that I can hope can help other parents.
Tip #1: Keep Trying! I once read that it can take more than eight times to get a child to try a certain food before they actually like it. This proves that there is hope if you can be persistent. It is frustrating and can be expensive to buy foods that continue to be turned down so make sure that it is something that another family member will eat (probably you!) before you buy something like that multi-pack of Babybel Cheese.
Tip #2: Dress it up! My kids are always more likely to eat something if it looks really fun. I have used colored sprinkles on yogurt, applesauce, and oatmeal. I have tried cookie cutters for toast (we made “ghost toast” around Halloween once and it was so popular that we have it year round now), sandwiches, deli meats, and cheeses. Use different foods to make designs, faces or pictures on a plate. My kids loved “Fruit Pinwheels.” I was able to get them to a variety of fruits this way by cutting them into different shapes and arranging them into a large pinwheel or flower. It can work with vegetables too. Try making your kids “Porcupines” for a snack. (A spoonful of hummus with pretzels sticking out all around) You could try it with peanut butter and pretzels too.
Tip #3: Don’t forget the dip! My boys hated French toast. One day, I cut it into strips and served some syrup on the side. Now they ask for French toast strips and smile as they happily dip and eat the very same food they refused before. It was that easy. Ranch dressing worked wonders for trying vegetables. Try sampling different salad dressings with raw vegetables. They might be so excited to try the dressings; they may not realize how many veggies they are eating. Do the same with meats.