As you may remember as part of my job I evaluate and treat individuals with feeding disorders. Not all children who are picky eaters have a feeding disorder and it is often quite normal for a child to go through a picky eating stage. Today’s Words In the Sand guest post is from James Pulsis. James writes on behalf of Kid Cuisine of ConAgra Foods and is sharing some tips on how to get your picky eater excited about trying new and healthy foods.
At times it can be extremely difficult to get our children to eat the healthy nutritious foods that they need in order to stay well and to grow. So what our options? Often parents take one of two routes: they either they put rules in place with their children to force them to eat healthy or they reward their children for eating their food. Undoubtedly reward is a much better, and in the long run, easier option to take. But how do we consistently get our children to want to eat the foods that are good for them in a way that rewards them? The answer is to get them involved in the food preparation process.
Keep your child involved in all steps of the food process and let them take a little ownership of the project with your guidance. Your aim should be to make them care about and value what they eat. The best way to do this is to get them involved.
Food Selection: Provide them with a couple of options for the meal of the day. By giving them options to choose form you’re allowing them to express their creativity and to feel a sense of ownership over the cooking process. Involve them in the shopping process and let them grab the food off the shelf. Make this a very interactive activity. The more interactive this is the more they feel that they are involved. The purpose of this is to help them take initiative and gives them sense of responsibility. This helps them to see the value that is created by getting involved in the selection process.
Food Preparation: Allow them to help in the cooking and preparation process as much as possible. Use any tactic you can to get them involved. Have them wash the food or to take out the plates and cooking ingredients. This is the longest part of the process and is a great opportunity for you to bond with your child. Help make them feel like this is their creation. Let them know that they have done well for all of the work they have done. Find ways to make this fun for them.
The Meal: Have them help serve the meal. Let the set up the table and place all of the silverware and plates. Make them feel like they are putting on a show for someone. This is something special for them. Give them credit for what they have done to help you in making the food.
The goal of this approach is to show them the value of their work and to make them feel good about what they have created. Involving them in the food making process helps them care about the meal and makes it more desirable to eat. By the end of this process they will be excited to eat what they have worked hard to create.
For kid friendly meals, easy snacks for kids with Kids Mac and Cheese, or Meals Kids Love visit KidCusine.