Our Top Tips for Picky Eating
Got a picky eater at home? Here are some helpful hints of how to maximize your picky eater's nutrition in kid friendly foods and some tips for getting different foods into their day.
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Many kids will go through food jags especially between the ages of 2-5. This is where foods they used to eat suddenly fall away, and kids will be resistant to adding new foods. This is often temporary but the key is to keep adding new foods to the diet. Sometimes we stop introducing foods that kids have given up on, but don't! Keep offering the foods they used to like and new ones, it might take months but eventually that food often comes back in. We also recommend a practice of food chaining to help get new foods into children's diets. So take the french fry for example. This food is highly accepted by most children, so try different baked fry shapes and textures, and work up to tater tots, then even baked potato and mashed. This progression teaches comfort with different forms of foods. Once your child likes tater tots or mashed potatoes try the cauliflower tater tots available in your freezer section or add mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes. This provides a hidden veggie in their starchy favorites. The other thing to try is after your child likes most french fries, try sweet potato fries or breaded zucchini fries. The fry shape is often a great way to introduce new veggies.
To maximize nutrition in baked goods here are a few tricks:
Try making pumpkin muffins as a base and add cocoa powder. The chocolate flavor completely hides the pumpkin and you will feel good that your child is getting a veggie in with their breakfast. You can also add 1/4C ground flaxseed to almost any recipe you bake, cookies, muffins, pancakes etc. This adds fiber and omega 3 fatty acids which might be low in a picky eater's diet.
Other tricks are to maximize the nutrition of your child's snack foods and to make sure they are not getting too many snacks. If you are offering a healthy meal each night and your child has had a snack just 1 hour prior they are not likely going to be overly hungry for trying a new food or to eat a more balanced dinner option. Try to space snacks at least 2 hours between meals. So to choose some healthy snacks try some crackers or chips with at least 2g of fiber per serving and have hidden veggies inside like the Good Thins (sweet potato and flax) or Sweet Potato Tortilla chips by Food Should Taste Good. Sometimes kids prefer crunchy fruit like freeze dried options vs. fresh if the texture is tough for them. Other healthy snacks are yogurt, cheese, peanut butter or other nut butters. For nut butter or even vanilla yogurt try adding a little cocoa powder to make it chocolate flavored so it feels like a treat but really there is no added sugar just some chocolate flavor.
Lastly keep cooking and playing with foods. This will help to expose your child to new foods so they will be more open to trying them in the future. Also, remember it takes 10-20 times of trying a new food before it may be accepted so don't give up. Adding new foods takes time and patience is key.
If you need more help with your child's diet, the dietitians at Whole Health Nutrition are specialized in working with children and picky eaters. Call us today to do a fun food play in session and make your individualized plan for advancing your child's diet.
Try this fun chocolate pumpkin muffin recipe this weekend!
Healthy Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 Muffins
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or ground oats
3/4 cup white all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
⅔ cup sugar or maple syrup
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
15 ounce pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup skim milk
1 egg beaten
5.3 ounce container non-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup miniature chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine flours, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flaxseed in a bowl.
3. Stir pumpkin, vanilla, milk, egg and yogurt into the dry mix until just combined.
4. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
5. Fill muffins tins lined with paper liners or coated with cooking spray about ⅔ full.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until completely cooked through.
7. Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool.