Picky Eaters: How to Ensure Your Child is Getting the Nutrients They Need

When you’re dealing with a child at mealtime, chances are that their food often ends up everywhere except for the one place it should be: their tummy. Dinner becomes more of a negotiation, where you’re constantly urging them to at least try broccoli before they throw it across the room or give it to the family dog. Luckily, there are ways to simplify this process and get your kids to eat right without resorting to pleas or bribes.

Don’t Force Them To Eat

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Children have a hard time communicating their needs, especially if they’re too young to talk. Eating is a natural human process, and if your child is hungry then they’ll eat. Forcing your child to eat will only make them resent the practice, leading to increased difficultly down the road when they’ve trained themselves to resist eating like clockwork. Instead, try to let them sit at the table with food in front of them and if they don’t eat it simply take it away without making too much of a fuss over it. The less you say about their eating habits the better.

Make A Schedule

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Having set times each day when your children eat will get them eating on their own in no time. Setting a schedule leads to predictable behavior in children as they’ll start to be hungry around the same time every day. Keep this in mind and limit the random snacks to keep meals on track. With a regimented schedule you’ll be able to better understand your child’s needs and won’t have to guess if their sudden crankiness is attributed to hunger or something else.

Pick Mild, Fun Foods

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Getting children to eat various types of food can be difficult, so when picking meats, seafoods and certain veggies, keep in mind that strong flavors may deter them from trying something new. Instead, focus on mild food prepared in a way you know they like. For example, when it comes to seafood, kids can have a hard time getting over the “fishy” taste. Try introducing them to fresh Tilapia, a mild fish, to get them used to the texture. Tilapia provides important nutrients such as protein, calcium and potassium, and its mild taste allows for versatility in meals—so much so that your child might not even notice they’re eating fish. The best part about it is that making Tilapia into a fun meal can be easy! Kids love finger foods so try making this Tilapia Fingers recipe and experiment with different dips to see which one your child likes best. We prefer fresh Tilapia from Mexico or Honduras or frozen Tilapia Loins from Costco’s Kirkland brand.

Get Your Children Involved

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Allowing your child you taste the fruits of their own labor will encourage them to eat without a fuss. After they put in all the work preparing the meal for themselves, they’ll be more excited about finally getting to eat it! The preparation process also helps work up an appetite and they’ll begin to learn important life skills too. It’s a win-win for your whole family.

Getting your children to eat nutritious food is easy as long as you keep these tips in mind. Of course this may mean a little bit of extra work on your end, but you’ll save the time you currently spend arguing with your toddler about what to eat. We’re not saying that these steps can be implemented overnight, but slowly getting into a routine of fun, scheduled meals that are highly nutritious can make your child a happy and healthy eater moving forward.

Photo credit: Matt Preston