Make meal time fun!

Making food more attractive to picky eaters.

Do you have a child who is a picky eater? If so, you are among many who battle daily to get their children to eat nutritiously. What can we do? Here are some tips to try:

  • Offer choices. Offering your child a choice on what they’d like to eat can be productive. Before preparing a vegetable for dinner, you may want to ask “would you like green beans or broccoli for dinner?” If they have a choice, they may be more apt to eat.
  • Let kids help at the store. When at the grocery store with your kids, let them pick out what fruits and vegetables to purchase. If you are limited financially, choose two that you can afford and ask them which one to buy. If they have a say in what to buy, they may be less picky at the table when it is served.
  • Kids like to try foods they prepare. Let your picky eater help prepare foods that they have chosen to eat and/or buy. They learn about the fruit or vegetable when they have a part in washing, cleaning or measuring and may even want to try a sample!
  • Let them decide. Let your child decide how much of the foods to eat, but try to have them take a “no thank you” bite to try the food. It takes a few times of tasting a new food before a child will decide whether they like it or not. Try not to make them eat the whole thing, but to sample new foods. Don’t force them to eat.
  • Offer all at the table the same things. Our lives are too hectic to be a short-order cook for one picky eater. If your child won’t eat what the rest of the family is eating, don’t fret. Missing a meal now and then won’t hurt. Just make the food available to them again if they are “starving” later.
  • Make mealtimes stress free. When the family is together for a meal, talk about fun things and keep the stresses of the day away from the table. Any arguing can lead to unhealthy attitudes about food in children. Also, turn off the TV and don’t answer the phone or texts – this is family time

Michigan State University Extension has found that children who are picky eaters rarely starve, but they can grow into adults who graze and/or don’t eat nutritiously. Making mealtimes stress free and giving them an active role in the planning and preparation of foods can lead to healthy, adventurous adult eaters. If you have questions about how to increase the odds on your children forming good eating habits early in life, visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/county or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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