As parents there are so many things we want to pass on to our children. Being a picky eater is definitely NOT one of those things.
So what happens if you want your kids to be healthy eaters and YOU are a picky eater??? It’s not an easy challenge to lead by example when you have a hard time with healthy eating yourself however it’s also not mission impossible! How do I know this is true? Because I am still on that path myself and working on becoming a more adventurous eater! I think you would be surprised to learn that there are a lot of picky adults out there, so if you are one, don’t worry you’re not alone and there’s hope!! There are things you can do to get your kids on a path of healthy eating while taking that same journey yourself.
Get Rid of Guilt and Keep Trying
It’s so hard to “know” that you need to be setting a good example for your children but at the same time you can barely choke down a Brussels Sprout! The thing about guilt is that it is pointless and just keeps you feeling stuck. Your kids are not doomed and neither are you…it’s never too late! Take small steps everyday towards healthy eating, these things add up and turn into a good habit! It takes time and many exposures for your taste buds to get used to something new. It took me two years to finally enjoy red peppers! I started off cutting them up extremely small (about the size of an eraser on a pencil) and would mix them in with food I enjoyed such as pasta sauce and on homemade pizzas. Pairing new foods with old favorites is a great way to train taste buds! Eventually the pepper pieces got bigger and bigger and now I wouldn’t think of picking them out of anything I eat! We can work on our own eating habits at the same time as our children…turn it into a fun adventure together. So don’t waste any time feeling bad and just starting taking those baby steps with your child!
Watch Your Words and Keep Trying
Try to avoid saying strong statements such as ” I HATE broccoli” or “I don’t eat ANYTHING green” when you are eating with your kids because you don’t want to have them attach those feelings to the foods they are suppose to be eating. The way we talk about food, especially around our kids does affect them, so instead you can try using phrases like “Broccoli isn’t my favorite but I’m going to give it another try” or ” I’m not used to the taste of spinach yet but I’m working on it!” You don’t have to like and pretend you love something when your kids can clearly see you barely choking it down. When my daughter was younger she would say “My tongue isn’t friends with that yet” so we would keep introducing whatever it was that she didn’t like and most of the time they eventually ended up becoming friends! I think it’s good to let your kids know that everyone has likes and dislikes and that’s okay as long as we can keep an open mind and keep trying!
Get Creative and Keep Trying
Sometimes we get stuck in a food rut and forget that things can be prepared and served in many different ways! Since texture sensitivities can play a big role in picky eating it’s really important to try mixing things up to find what works best for you and for your kids. You might find that kale is too strong raw but turning it into kale chips and voila you can eat a whole bowl in one sitting! Personally I don’t enjoy the texture of raw blueberries but I love them when they are frozen. I think a lot of us experienced vegetables as over cooked mushy things that we had to eat as kids and that left a bad taste in our mouths so to speak! But you can do so many things with vegetables and prepare them is so many different ways that if you are willing to explore you will find a combination that works for you and for your kids. It might not be the same but that’s okay too. My husband prefers broccoli raw and I prefer it steamed so when we have broccoli at our house we just leave some uncooked…no big deal!! Buy some produce and see how many different ways you can prepare it…then set up a taste testing station at the table and give each a try…it will be fun for your kids and a great way to see what everyone prefers!
The best advice I can give is to keep trying new foods! It can take at least 15 exposures before a new food is accepted so if you don’t like something the first time keep trying it at least 14 more times! I believe we can turn any problem into a positive and picky eating is no exception. I can’t think of a better motivator to break out of the picky zone than wanting to set a healthy example for our little ones. Being a picky parent just means we have to work a little harder at it!