Parents usually think of their kids as being either “good eaters” who’ll try new things and always eat their veggies or “picky eaters” who won’t eat anything that’s not buttered noodles or chicken nuggets. Most moms and dads would prefer not to have a picky eater, but even though kids are born with their own tastes, you can influence the way they approach eating. Here’s how to help your kid become a more adventurous eater.
- Be a role model - If you don’t eat healthy fruits and veggies, your kids probably won’t either. So show them that a good meal is more than mac and cheese and that healthy food really is good by being a good example.
- Don’t reinforce food ruts - When parents find a food their kid will eat willingly, they often keep serving it over and over, but it’s not helping your kid branch out. Pediatrician Claire McCarthy wrote for Harvard Health Blog that giving into your kids’ specific demands gives them no reason to evolve and try new things. She advises to keep offering new foods and says eventually they’ll come around.
- Take kids grocery shopping - It might make the trip longer for you, but it exposing kids to food hopping gets them involved and they’re more likely to eat stuff they help pick out.
- Let kids help in the kitchen - We know, the thought of letting your little one “help” when you’re already in a hurry to get dinner on the table seems like a bad idea, but when they learn about cooking, they learn about eating as well. Having them participate makes them want to try what they make and research shows they’re more willing to try new foods too.
- Let kids figure out when they’re full - Most parents have pulled the “just one more bite” thing a few times this week, but bribing them to eat more can mess with their natural instincts. Teaching moderation means no more saying “clean your plate and you get dessert,” but it helps children learn to listen to their bodies to gauge how much to eat.