How to get a picky eater to eat by Chef Lindsay
I was a picky eater as a child, a very picky eater. Everything had to be dry: cereal, bread, salad; not touching; and familiar. Forget trying new things. I can remember taking a trip to Italy as a child and my parents offering me a dollar (which was a lot for a kid back then) for every new thing I tried…I earned nothing on that trip. That all changed for me when I started becoming interested in cooking in my dorm room in college. Picking out my own menus, buying my own ingredients, and getting my hands dirty creating the food I would be eating changed the way I looked at food.
Coming from a culinary background, I was convinced that my children would share my love for food from an early age…but I couldn’t be more wrong. I made all of their own baby food, trying out the simple foods along with more complex. They spit everything out. As they grew, their palates did not. If it was not brown, starchy, or sweet it wasn’t going in their mouths…and even worse, if one child decided that she didn’t like something the other child would follow suit.
I’ve read every piece of literature out there on getting kids to eat, and tried out everything. I’ve hid spinach in their meatballs, squash in their mac n cheese and sweet potatoes in their waffles. I have made silly shapes with the food on their plates. I don’t call food by their proper names. I’ve given out “good eater” stickers. I’ve offered to let them choose their menus and help prepare their meals.
And as much as I would love to say I found the solution that works, I haven’t. They try new foods when they want to and they eat as much as and when they want (which is still shockingly little at 6 and 8). I’ve learned that like me, they will come into eating at their own pace, and all I can do is provide a variety of healthy meals for them to dabble with if they so choose. My mom always reminds me “they wont starve if they don’t eat dinner”, and she’s right, I did ok.
If you’re looking for some websites for some ideas for your own picky eater here are a few that I found offered a few helpful tips:
Tips For Grilling Pizza
Now that we're headed towards summer, daylight is lasting longer and the evenings aren't quite so cool, so I've started to grill more and more. One thing I love grilling for an easy dinner is pizza. The following are a few simple steps for a delicious grilled pizza:
There's nothing more monumental and frightening than bringing home your first child. Nick was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I loved to watch him sleep, couldn't wait till he woke up and my husband and I fought over changing his diaper until the 50th diaper in 5 days was tossed. The kid pooped way too much and the novelty was over. Nick appeared to be like every other child in his first year.
When Nicholas was 16 months old I started noticing he wasn't talking, had no eye contact, was watching "Baby Mozart" out of the corner of his eyes, walking in the patterns of our oriental rug, lining his dinosaurs in perfect rows, couldn't stand to be touched and had difficulty with textures.
Featured Guest: Susannah Johnson
One of the most frequent questions that I get asked as a nutrition professional is, “Will your kids eat that?” And sad to say, 90% of the time the honest answer is no. My kids don’t eat much brown rice pilaf, tahini dressing, or sautéed chard. However… my 10 year-old daughter requests arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette and my son likes “tofu cubes” (savory broiled tofu) and green beans. All hope is not lost.
What do my kids love to eat? Well, anything from The Golden Food Group, of course - chicken fingers, donuts, French fries, mac n’ cheese, boxed cereals, pizza, white breads, chips, cookies, frozen waffles, graham crackers etc. Precisely the same foods that I liked to eat when I was a child.
The truth be told, I didn’t order a salad at a restaurant until I was probably twenty years old. I didn’t eat a raw tomato until I was out of college. It took a while for me to discover that when I ate certain healthier foods I felt better emotionally, mentally, and physically.
As a mom, I want my children to grow up healthy and strong, and I know that a sugar-coated gummy vitamin once a day is not going to do the trick. So I have to find clever ways to sneak some nutrients into those little 8 and 10 year-old bodies…even if it means bribing them with gummy vitamins.
Before I tell you about a few of my favorite healthy snacks for kids, I want to briefly address what is wrong with a lot of the typical, packaged snack foods that are marketed at children. Here are some of the biggest health-sabotaging ingredients to avoid and why:
Found in processed snack foods (like chips, candies, and fruit snacks), some synthetic colorings (FD&C and D&C colors) are petroleum-based and potentially carcinogenic. Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow #5) has been specifically shown in controlled studies to provoke symptoms of ADHD in children. (Curtis and Patel, 2008)
In the United States, BHA, BHT, and TBHQ are common preservatives found in breakfast cereals, chewing gum, and processed snack foods. BHT is so toxic, it has been banned in many countries. “BHT has been linked to organ system toxicity, including kidney and liver damage, hyperactivity in children, and may be carcinogenic.” (Mercola, 2013) These preservatives affect the neurological system of the brain, alter behavior, and may cause cancer.
Not just in Chinese food, but also a common flavor enhancer in processed foods, MSG is a known excitotoxin – a substance that over-stimulates cells to the point of cellular damage or cellular death. (Mercola, 2010) Be aware of the many names of MSG – food companies will often sneak it in under a name like “yeast extract”.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (and refined sugar in general)
High fructose corn syrup increases LDL (bad) cholesterol and contributes to the development of diabetes. Disordered blood sugar levels lead to mood swings, behavioral problems, and increased cognitive impairment and inattention. Sugar literally robs the body of important vitamins and minerals, specifically B Vitamins that are required for thinking, coordination, energy, and memory (Bauman, 2015)
Despite the knowledge that these fats are toxic for human consumption, partially hydrogenated oils are still a common ingredient in processed snack foods like peanut butters, crackers, breads, etc. Numerous studies have shown that they increase your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke due to the fact that they lower HDL (good) cholesterol and raise LDL (bad) cholesterol.
So what are we going to feed our children?
I try to remember too, that the more that I eat junk, the less I want to eat salad. It takes a while to cultivate a taste for healthy homemade food. If we want our kids to eat healthfully, be respectful, be kind, and value what’s important in life, we need to model that behavior for them. Educate yourself and your family, do your best, and most importantly, give yourself a break…they are kids after all.
The fact that you are even reading this makes me think that your kids are pretty darn lucky.
You’re doing a great job,
Holistic Nutrition Counselor
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition. [Textbook] Bauman College. Penngrove, CA. 2015
Curtis, L.T. & Patel, K. (2008, Jan/Feb). Nutritional and environmental approaches to preventing autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A review [Abstract]. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medecine, 14(1): 79-85. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0610
Mercola, J. (2013, September 14). 5 Common Chewing Gum Ingredients that May Cause Cancer. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/14/chewing-gum-cancer-risk.aspx
Mercola, J. (2010, December 8). Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid.