Do you have a picky eater in your family?
With 4 kids, I have definitely been there. When my first baby started eating he would try anything, but by the time he turned 2, there were only a few foods he deemed worthy of his refined palate. Cream cheese toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Yes, please! Veggies? NO! Meat? NO. Just cream cheese toast.
Baby 2 wouldn’t even touch solid foods for the first year. I was worried that he would never eat at all, but shortly after his first birthday he started gobbling everything in sight, including vegetables that his big brother couldn’t get near without gagging.
Without realizing it, I started making two meals… one for the picky eater…
My husband and I made efforts to eating relatively healthy, but because our oldest was such a picky eater, we ended up cooking our meal and then serving the kids mac and cheese, hot dogs or cream cheese toast, just to avoid the hassle of forcing food down their throats. But the more I learned about “real food” and realized that I was compromising my kid’s health by feeding them processed junk, the more I wanted to change the way I cook for my family. The year my oldest turned 5, I decided that for my new years resolution processed food was out. And I decided that the kids needed to eat what we eat.
Adding desserts to the menu.
I’m not going to lie. The first month of so of my new regimen was a battle. And sometimes I wondered if my kids would starve themselves rather than eat some of the foods I worked so hard to prepare. One thing I realized was that they were willing to try a lot more with a little bit of motivation. So I started making desserts to help motivate them. Now, when I say desserts, I mean nutrient dense foods that are on the sweeter end of the spectrum, not empty calorie sugar bombs. If they finish a certain amount of their dinner, they are given dessert. That alone helped tremendously. And when I serve them a nutrient dense dessert I feel confident that it is good for them too.
Try at least one bite.
We also ask the children to try at least one bite of everything on their plates. Sometimes they don’t like how something looks, but the taste pleasantly surprises them. And many foods need to be introduced repeatedly in order for a child to get used to the flavor.
Start them young.
I was pregnant with my third baby when I started this new experiment and when she was a baby I decided that instead of feeding her store bought baby foods I would make my own and feed her from my plate. She was definitely exposed to a wider variety of flavors as a baby than her older brothers and you can tell. She is willing to try almost anything and some foods that are considered an acquired taste (like sauerkraut) she just loves. Yesterday, I caught her in the backyard with a package of dried seaweed, shoveling it into her mouth like the cookies monster.
Remind them to be grateful
Teaching picky eaters is an ongoing process and I find it helpful to remind my big boys that I work very hard to prepare their food. They have started learning to cook a little bit too, so when they prepare something I try to show them how much I appreciate their efforts. This goes a long way when I remind them how it feels when people say both positive or negative things about food they have worked hard on.They have learned to thank the cook for the time and effort spent even if they aren’t crazy about the dish at hand.
Teaching a picky eater to eat wholesome unprocessed food is well worth the effort.
When my kids stopped eating processed food, I noticed a huge difference in their immune systems. They didn’t get sick as often. Plus, moods stay more balanced. And I know that in the long run I am teaching them to make healthy choices. Because I won’t always be around to cook for them.
If you are interested in nutrient dense desserts, but aren’t sure where to start, check these out:
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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and the statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products or techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am just a mom who shares what works for me!