Having an extremely picky eater was my first big trial of motherhood. I remember sitting next to my preschooler at the table, working hard for every single bite she took. So many nights we both went to bed in tears.
That one small child and her refusal to eat anything with nutritional value single-handedly made me feel like a failure as a mother. Battles of will, the isolation of young motherhood, and sleep deprivation will do that. At least, it did to me.
Picky eater. Those two simple words are enough to tear a Mama down. They sound so simple, so small in the scheme of things. But in the middle of dealing with an extremely picky eater, they are everything. You start wondering, “Will she grow up healthy?” “What will happen to her health and body if she is this picky as an adult?” “How will she survive dating, eating so few things?”
Maybe like me maybe you’ve tried everything, yet your child still continues to be a picky eater. Did you know that 94% of kids don’t eat the recommended serving of vegetables? If you worry about your child’s lack of vegetables, you are definitely not alone!
Ultimately my goal is to raise children who eat (and enjoy!) a variety of healthy foods. Until then I’m taking measures to ensure that they get the nutrients they need even when they aren’t eating as well as I’d like. That’s where One A Day with Nature’s Medley comes in- these great tasting gummies are the only complete multivitamin with the plant-based antioxidants from one full USDA serving size of fruits and veggies! And the best part, my kids enjoy them so much that they remind me each day at lunch that it is time to take our vitamins.
Another thing that I love about One A Day with Nature’s Medley is that they have vitamins for the whole family. When life gets busy and I’m not eating as I should either, I cut myself some slack knowing that I’m still getting the nutritional support I need from my own vitamins.
(If you have a picky eating husband, One A Day with Nature’s Medley has one for him too.)
After thirteen years of mothering my pickiest eater, I have found several strategies to encourage healthier eating.
Make eating fun.
Especially for younger children, visual presentation is often everything when it comes to different or new foods. Try cutting things into fun shapes or using food to create interesting shapes and patterns on your child’s plate.
Provide dips often. Many children love to dip their food and will eat more things when their favorite dips are available.
Whenever possible cook foods with the healthiest ingredients possible. Finely chopped, or pureed veggies can be added to many sauces- just be sure to start with very small amounts so they don’t notice the change. Then increase the amount of good stuff slowly!
Add spinach and other good veggies to smoothies. My children all loved strawberry and banana smoothies when my pickiest eater was a preschooler. When I began adding spinach and carrots to the blend I invested in opaque cups with straw top lids. They never noticed that their usually pink smoothie slowly got more and more green!
Switch out creamy ingredients to healthier yogurt in recipes.
Be a good example.
Be sure that your children see you eating a wide variety of foods. Make a point to show your kids how you try new foods and give everything a chance before saying no.
Encourage children to try everything.
In our house we have a one bite rule. Everyone must try one bite of each thing on his or her plate before going back for seconds of anything else. Even though my 7 year old says, “I know I don’t like green beans, I’ve already tried them” the one bite rule still applies each time I serve those pesky green beans.
Sometimes repeated exposure can lead to toleration and even enjoyment of a food. Having older children who have learned to enjoy foods they once disliked, I know this strategy is worth the whining it often brings.
Change it up.
Serve healthy things different ways. Many children enjoy a vegetable prepared one way, but dislike it another.
My pickiest child absolutely loves roasted broccoli sprinkled lightly with olive oil, salt, and garlic. If I’d given up on broccoli after she tried it raw, in soup, and boiled I would still believe that she hated broccoli. I’m also hopeful that eventually her love of roasted broccoli will also lead to enjoyment of it prepared different ways!
Incorporate the kids.
Children love to own what they eat.
Get your child involved with the food in your home in any way you can. Helping to choose the week’s menu, make the grocery list and shop, peeling and chopping veggies, and cooking are all great ways to involve your children with the food in your home. Often their pride in the involvement will help them look at different foods in a better light.
Don’t give up!
Getting children to learn to eat and enjoy a variety of healthy foods is a long and draining battle, but don’t give up. It is a fight worth undertaking!
Serve a great multivitamin.
I serve my children One A Day with Nature’s Medley multivitamins for kids (formulated for children ages 4 and up) to ensure that my family is getting all the nutrients they need as we continues to strive towards healthier eating each day.
Be sure get your $4 off coupon for One A Day with Nature’s Medley and head to your local Walmart to pick up bottles for your whole family. These great vitamins are free of artificial flavors and sweetness, plus the colors come from natural sources, so you can feel confident serving them to your whole family! Click here: http://bit.ly/2sTWDQq
How do you encourage your family to eat healthy foods?
This is sponsored by One A Day with Nature’s Medley. I received product/compensation from OAD to write this post. All opinions are my own.