I hate pears. Call me strange, but ever since I was a kid I’ve been turned off by their squishy texture and tangy taste. I’ve tried to enjoy the fruit many times (in desserts, salads, sodas—you name it), but something about the pear just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve had to accept that I’m a picky eater.
I’m not the only one picky about my food. Kids are notorious for eating only what they want to eat. They’ll shove aside anything that looks remotely healthy or nutritious in favor of sweets and savory snacks. It can seem nearly impossible to get kids the nutrition they need when they refuse to eat anything new.
Thankfully, there are a lot of creative ways to introduce new, healthy foods to children that they’ll actually want to eat. Before we get into our picky eater food list, let’s talk about why some kids are picky eaters.
Why Is My Child A Picky Eater?
Picky eaters can be frustrating, but the first step to overcoming that frustration is to understand why kids are picky about their food in the first place. Here are a few reasons why your child might be choosy about their cuisine.
- Kids get nervous trying new things. Unfamiliar territory can be uncomfortable to any of us but especially kids. Whether it’s a mysterious food or an unfamiliar activity, some kids get nervous when faced with something new. Take this in stride, and try exposing your kiddo to new foods in steps. Add unfamiliar meals to their plate gradually and know that even if they don’t touch it, the continued exposure will help them grow accustomed to new food.
- Your child may not be hungry. Kids’ stomachs are pretty small, and their appetites are more erratic than a bee flitting from flower to flower. If your child isn’t hungry, it doesn’t matter what food you place in front of them, they still won’t eat. If this is the case, accept that your child isn’t hungry—but maybe let them know that after dinner, the kitchen is closed.
- Media is changing their food opinions. TV shows and social media alter our opinions on many things, including food. I think fresh brussels sprouts are pretty dang good, but so many sitcoms crack jokes about how the vegetable is disgusting. Jokes like this may inform and sway a child’s opinions. Encourage your children to form their own opinions and step away from mind-altering media with a smartphone from Troomi Wireless. Click here to learn more about why Troomi phones don’t allow social media, then read our mission to learn a bit more!
- A child’s palate is more sensitive than an adult’s. Taste is something that grows as we do, and studies suggest that kids are more sensitive to certain tastes than adults. Sweet and salty tastes are easier on a child’s taste buds than bitter or sour foods. Be patient with your child as you introduce new foods. As with most parts of parenting, persistence is key!
Picky Eater Food List
Now that we know why kids are picky about their food, here are a few clever recipes that deliver the nutrition kids need while simultaneously tasting supremely delicious.
- Smoothies. Who doesn’t love a fresh fruit smoothie in the morning? Double up on nutrition by adding some veggies like spinach and carrots to your child’s next smoothie.
- Soups. There are few things as delicious (and healthy) as a hearty soup. It’s easy to sneak all five food-groups into a soup, giving your kids the nutrition they need to get outside and play.
- Macaroni and cheese and cauliflower? Yep, you heard that right. Next time your kiddo requests mac n’ cheese, add some cauliflower to give the carb-loaded meal a nice veggie boost.
- Muffins. Kids love sweets, and muffins can be the perfect combination of sweet and nourishing. There is a huge variety of muffins out there, so experiment on what kind is most popular with your family by adding a few different types of fruit to your next batch!
- Pancakes. Pancakes are a simple breakfast, but oh-so-delicious. You can even replace the sugar inherent to pancakes with some nutritious applesauce.
- Dried fruit chips. If you have a kid that likes to snack, swap the potato chips for dried fruit chips like apple, banana, and mango. You can find the fruit at most grocery stores. If you’re feeling creative, you can easily make your own—just be prepared to have your oven occupied for a few hours.
- Roasted veggies. Similar to dried fruit, roasted veggies are an easy and delicious way to get your kids some delicious vegetable goodness.
- Granola bars. Every hiker will attest that granola bars are lifesavers—and most kids would agree. Try making your own granola bars; all you need are dates, almonds, oats, peanut butter, and maple syrup.
- Bacon. Unless you and your family are vegetarian, bacon is a crowd-pleaser and a phenomenal way to consume protein. You can even fry an egg or saute some veggies in the left-over bacon grease in place of cooking oil or butter.
- Lettuce wrap burger. You might not think so but hamburgers can be pretty healthy—and kids love them. Make them even healthier by replacing the bread bun with a fresh lettuce wrap.
Get Your Kids In The Kitchen
When kids are involved in the cooking process, their excitement about eating the food they created (with your help) is unparalleled. Encourage your picky eater to help you cook. No matter their age, there is always a kitchen task that your kiddo can help with. Check out this article about “Simple Tips for Teaching Kids to Cook” for some help knowing where to start.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Troomi blog for more parenting tips and tricks, and happy cooking!