“I’m losing sleep over my picky eater and her poor diet , since she only ever eats meals that contain no nutrition and empty calories. It is starting to be a daily struggle to get her to co-operate when it comes to eating healthier, and I just come across as a nagging mom. How do I encourage her to like healthy food?,” – this was a query of concern by a mom in our community. 

What is a picky eater?

A picky eater tends to avoid trying new varieties of food, based on taste or texture of the food. It often results in anxiety for parents because it means that children may not get adequate nutrition through healthy consumption of a wide variety of food. 

Picky eating can be a stressful food issue for caregivers to deal with. It is normal for a child’s appetite and preferences to fluctuate (just like they are for adults). It is critical to strike a balance between encouraging children to listen to their body cues and explore their preferences and ensuring that they are exposed to a diverse range of foods and are set up to have a healthy relationship with food as they grow.

What causes picky eating?

Picky eating can be caused by feeding difficulties early on. Lack of good timing to introduce solid foods at weaning is also a factor. Pressuring children to finish their food is also another factor. The biggest contributor to picky eating habits among children is the food habits of the parents themselves. 

If you are struggling with your children’s eating choices, this article is for you. Children under the age of five require proper nutrition for healthy brain and body development. However, introducing variety into their diet can be challenging in some cases.

Most preschoolers are picky eaters who will only eat their favourite dessert or vegetable. If your child is one of them, consider these six doctor-recommended tips and tricks to help you deal with the problem.

1. Introduce New Food to Your Child

Try out various foods to see what your child enjoys. You will be able to broaden their taste buds in this manner. A picky eater, on the other hand, are often hesitant to try new foods. Instead of a full plate, prepare a meal that includes most of what your child enjoys as well as a small amount of new food. A recent study found that exposing children to a newer variety of food helps decrease their habit of picky eating the selective ones. 

You can either place the new food in the corner of their plate or keep a bowl of it nearby. Create a nutrition plan as well, which includes three full-course meals and two to three snack breaks. This will allow your child to feel hungry before the meal. When their stomachs are empty, they will be more open to the idea of trying new foods.

Also Read: Eating with braces: A simple guide to surviving the first few weeks of braces

2. Use Creative Ways to Increase Curiosity

Adding condiments to new foods  makes them appear more appealing to your picky eater. You can serve sweet potato fries with tomato sauce, mayonnaise, or dipping sauce. Similarly, broccoli or green peppers can be mixed with spaghetti sauce, and fruit salads can be served with top cereals.

These combinations make food more appealing and enjoyable for children. If they suggest a new combination, don’t be afraid to try it. The goal is to add variety to your child’s diet, and if that means experimenting with new combinations, you should be willing to try them

3. Keep the Size of the Portion Small

A large portion of an unfamiliar food item may overwhelm your children, and they may refuse to eat it. As a result, serve only a small portion at first. If they enjoy the flavour, ask if they want more. Increase the amount gradually based on your children’s appetites. Serving small portions also reduces food waste.

4. Include Your Child in the Food Selection Process

Fussy eaters are more likely to try new foods if they are involved in the process of selecting, growing, or producing them. Take them grocery shopping with you and introduce them to new vegetables and fruits. Food that is fresh and colourful piques their interest and piques their curiosity.

Research shows that if you involve your kids in the cooking process, their habit of picky eating decreases.  You can ask them to tear lettuce, wash vegetables, or whisk the batter, depending on their age and interest. It’s also a good idea to encourage them to set the table, decorate salad plates, or add toppings to dishes. Make sure they have fun while doing it, as this will increase their interest in trying new foods.

5. Try Tastier Alternatives for Bland Diets

Kids who don’t eat regular, healthy meals consisting of fresh whole foods are at risk especially picky eaters who can suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Parents looking for a nutritional supplement for a picky eater a who want to supplement their diet with almonds, walnuts, chia and flax seeds should consider Nutrimix nutrition powder by Little Joys. It comes in chocolate flavour and provides the necessary nutrients in a fun and tasty way for children. This paediatrician-recommended nutrition powder contains ingredients that improve concentration, brain development, and memory, making it a well-rounded choice for children’s nutrition. It also contains calcium and vitamin D, both of which help to strengthen bones and make your child stronger and more energetic. Ragi and bajra are also included, which are excellent prebiotics for healthy digestion and faster metabolism, both of which are important for your child’s health. There is no added sugar, preservatives, gluten, or flavouring, so it is completely safe.

6. Try Natural Chocolate Like Multivitamin Chocolate

Nutrimix multivitamin chocolate for your picky eater

Nutrimix multivitamin chocolate for your picky eater

Natural chocolate can be a saviour for parents who are dealing with extreme picky eaters fond of chocolates. One of the best all-natural chocolate available on the market is Multivitamin Chocolate by Little Joys. This chocolate is naturally sweetened with jaggery and contains 11 vitamins and minerals. It aims to improve your child’s health, strength, and memory in the most delicious way possible. It also curbs your child’s desire for chocolate while being nutritious. It contains zinc for immunity, DHA for brain development, vitamin D for bone health, and vitamin A for improved vision. This is ideal for parents looking for a healthier alternative to regular chocolate.

Also Read: Childhood Stress: How to Facilitate A Stress-free and Environment for kids / Jul 2021

As you’re working with your picky eater, try not to worry if your efforts initially aren’t 100% successful. Even if your child refuses to eat anything but a particular type of food, they will not be able to live on those alone for the rest of their lives. Children have a habit of eating one type of food for a while and then switching to another. Consider their intake over a week (or even a month) rather than what they eat on a single day or at a single meal.

If you’re still concerned, listen to your instincts and consult with your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian. This is especially important if your child has strong reactions to foods they don’t like or develops an aversion to a food they used to enjoy. Your paediatrician is there to assist you in resolving these difficult issues and, if necessary, can refer you to a professional who specialises in eating disorders.

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