It’s all about shifting your perspective when it comes to dinner table challenges with your kids. Here’s how you can embrace your picky eaters and make mealtimes fun again.
We all have some ideas of what foods are considered healthy and nourishing for ourselves and our families. The challenges often lie in selecting foods that resonate with your healthy food philosophy and your family’s taste.
It all starts with understanding their likes and dislikes – and that often involves taste-testing in the kitchen. Embrace the fun and learn how picky eaters can help you discover and explore more foods.
1. They Boost Your Creativity.
If kids loved everything you made or everything you bought, how boring would that be? The fact that they have opinions and certain tastes can guide you in a certain direction when you’re preparing and cooking foods. By focusing on what your kids like and dislike, this helps you find a place to be creative.
For example, if they don’t like chicken, that means you can either sneak it in or use another protein option. If they don’t like squash, you may find that you can successfully incorporate it pureed or mashed into other dishes or baked goods. Anytime there are any leftovers, find a way to repurpose them in recipes that allow them to get the nutritional benefit from these foods even if they don’t taste it. For many, structure can be helpful, but looser guidelines can help foster creativity.
2. They are Building a Positive Relationship with Food.
While your kids may be open to trying new things, that doesn’t guarantee they will like everything they try. Appreciate that they try to figure out what the ingredients are, and may even take the time to taste and consider the texture. And if certain tastes or textures just don’t work for them, that’s OK! That means they take the time to eat and mindfully consider what they like or dislike, rather than wolfing down their food.
When they do like a healthier option you’ve prepared, they will eat it again and again because you’ve allowed them to first explore and taste. Conversely, don’t restrict their options and allow them to try foods they want, regardless of whether you think it’s the healthiest choice. By doing so, you are giving them the ability to tune into what their body needs from an early age.
3. They Keep Your Cooking Simple.
Do you get inspired to go overboard with your recipes? While different ingredient and flavor combinations can certainly make a delicious meal, kids often want to know what foods they are eating. This can help reign you in and stick with more basic recipes in the kitchen. Simplicity in cooking not only tends to appeal more to kids, but is less time-consuming, less trial-and-error, and keeps recipes healthy, tasty, and re-doable.
With a shift of your perspective, life with your picky eaters can be fun again.
Adapted from the original article.
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Lauren O’Connor, MS, RDN, RYT is a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian, yoga teacher, and founder of Nutri Savvy Health. As a health writer, menu developer, and nutritional consultant for companies and national publications, Lauren promotes whole-food nutrition towards making choices that best serve their specific health needs. Learn more about Lauren at Nutri Savvy Health.