Hey everyone. I’ve been having a sensational time leading the 25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food. So many people are enthusiastic and enlightened as each day, they learn a valuable new step to living a life in real food.
It’s been a blessing to me to have people share with me how much they are learning. I even started a very active facebook group that’s growing by leaps and bounds. I invite you to join if you’d like an encouraging place to talk about real foods, gardening, and homesteading. This group is awesome!
Through this journey, one of the topics that has come up again and again, is picky eating. What has surprised me is that it’s not just children but also adults. Adults that are fearful of trying new things.
I do understand that some people, children and adults alike, have a sensory processing disorder. I have a couple friends that truly can’t withstand the texture of many foods; however, many more adults have been raised to be picky eaters. For them, I want to share with you, how to tame a picky eater even when they don’t want to eat.
How to Tame a Picky Child Eater – Even When They Don’t Want to Eat
In the United States we are very lenient with our children. We are much looser in our parenting style than most other countries. This includes allowing our children the option to eat their food or not, and oftentimes, we cater to their specific wants.
Many people visit my blog and assume that my children are different – that they eat everything they’re served on their plate with gusto! It’s just not the truth; however, I’m firm with them. Do they raise their noses at their plates? Yes! Do they complain when they see certain foods? Absolutely! But, as they’ve gotten older, suppertime has become more pleasurable as they know the rules of our house and that includes eating their supper, no matter what it is.
When it comes to children, they are all different. Some are great eaters, others hesitate. When siblings are involved, if one raises their nose, one or two more are sure to follow. It’s what they do. They test their boundaries to see what they can and can not get away with. It’s up to us as parents, to firmly establish those boundaries.
Also, children go through phases. Sometimes they can’t get enough food to eat and other times they don’t want to eat at all. My son once ate 3 bowls of lentil stew and soon after was fighting over a couple bites of papas con albondigas. It truly depends on what stage of growth they’re in.
By Age, Here are a few tips to help you tame your picky child eater.
From 12 Months: As soon as your child is ready to start eating, feed them what you are eating.
- Puree it in blender, food processor, or baby mill. That way as soon as they’re ready to eat, they are already learning to enjoy the flavors typical to your household. They even make a baby bullet complete care system which is a great investment if you are just starting your family.
At 2 Years Old: 2 Bite Rule.
- At 2, every child will become picky. I don’t know what it is about that year, but from my own experience it’s been true for each of my children. They went from these chubby little 1 year olds that would eat anything I made to picky little 2 year olds that I had to fight with to eat a bite. This is the age that I implement my 2 bite rule. As long as my two year old would eat 2 bites of whatever I made, they were good to go. If he doesn’t, they’re sent to bed. Let me tell you, it’s worked! 2 bites is manageable and it’s still opening their palate to the flavors of food that I typically make. That’s the most important thing. Your children need to get used to the different flavors, textures, and smells in the foods that you create.
From 3-6 Years Old: Get Them Involved In the Kitchen.
- This is the age that your children are becoming their own little people. They are soaking in every new thing that you as a parent introduce to them. It’s why I encourage you to make them a part of everything you do. From gardening, to the kitchen, give them little tasks. Have them help you plant seeds. Take them with you to the farmers market. Even if they don’t help you pick out the produce, just them being their is allowing them to see different types of vegetables in vivid bright colors. In the kitchen, show them different types of food and ask them if they know how they’re grown. Give them their own special set of cooking utensils and have them help you mix up a batch of pancakes or add rice to boiling water (while you hold them and supervise at all times). Let them be a part of that experience so that when you serve them a meal at the dinner table, it becomes personal to them.When it comes to eating, I make sure that they eat a tablespoon of each component of the meal for each of their years. For example, If I’m serving enchiladas and rice, my 5 year old has to eat 5 tbls of the enchiladas and 5 tbls of rice. Here’s one thing parents, I often times still spoon feed my 5 year old. If he’s getting picky and whining, I scoop up food on a fork and bring it to his mouth. Otherwise, he’d sit there for ages! If he chooses to not eat, he’s sent to bed.
From 7+ : Kids in the Kitchen.
- Having a son that is 7, it’s been a blast seeing my boy cook in the kitchen. My oldest makes his own fried eggs, pancakes, cookies, rice, and so much more. At this age, they just adore creating their own foods. Once they are old enough, allow them to make their own foods. It’s always fun to me to make something with my son and then have him try the food. I ask him, “is it missing anything?” He then thinks about it, and sure enough, he always has something in mind to add to it to make it taste just perfect. It’s fun. It’s creation and it gives him something to be proud of to serve to his family.At this age, I make sure that my son clears his plate. I portion his meals according to how much I know he should be eating. Of course, there are days that I know he’s full and in that case, I don’t press him. He’s a great eater though, so I really don’t have many problems with him. There are many great resources online that can show you what an appropriate serving size is for children 6+. At this age, if my son starts to whine and complain, I send him to bed. I let him know that he’s much to old to be displaying this type of behavior and if he wants to do that he can go do it in bed. Simple and it works.
I’ve had a lot of parents concerned that there children will be hungry. Yes, they probably will, but they won’t be harmed. My children have gone to bed early many times and they always wake up ready to eat a large nourishing breakfast. Best of all, they learn right away that they don’t enjoy going to bed early and usually eat much better the next evening.
Through all of this, the most important thing is to be consistent – establish your boundaries and hold true to them. If your child is whining and complaining, guess what, they’re normal, but don’t give in and make them something they enjoy to eat like a hot dog or chicken nuggets. Trust me, the’ll learn right away that it just takes some whining, and saying no, to get what they want. You’re the parent. You make the rules.
How to Tame a Picky Adult Eater – Even When They Don’t Want to Eat
First of all, a picky child eater usually grows up to be a picky adult eater. So…
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
However, there are still many woman I know that when they marry the special man in their life come to find out that they are picky. Oh dear. This must be frustrating. Okay, here are a few tips to tame a picky adult.
1. Remember that flavors are acquired.
- I don’t know one person that’s ever had a sip of beer or wine for their first time and thought, “wow, this is fantastic!” No, those flavors are acquired and just like that, the flavors in the dishes you create are acquired as well. So, my advice to you is to just keep serving real food. It will take awhile, but soon enough, the new flavors will be acquired.
2. Quit Buying Junk Food.
- This tip is for both children and adults alike. Mom’s, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but the power to what your family eats is in your hands. Whatever you bring in from the grocery store is going to be a viable option for each member in your family. If they don’t like what you prepare and know that there are frozen chicken nuggets in the freezer, guess what, they’re going to reach for it. This includes mostly adults that are more than capable of grabbing it and preparing it for themselves. If you don’t bring it home, they will not have that option and let me tell you, the real food that you prepare will start to look more appetizing when their option is that or hunger. This same tip goes for all cookies, crackers, twinkies.. etc…. If it’s not in your house, it’s not an option.
3. Cook Good, Flavorful Food.
- Sometimes you may just need to ramp up your skills in the kitchen. Here’s a post that has turned even the pickiest adult vegetable eater to a lover of good food! The Mediterranean Secret to Phenomenal Vegetables.
4. Be Gracious.
- When I first started gutting my house of all processed foods, it took my man a few years later to be on board 100%. During that time, I still bought him his favorite cereal, his pasteurized 2% milk, and things of that sort. His love was more important to me than stripping every processed food away from him. However, some things that he desired and that I wanted my children to stay away from, I would purchase for him and then ask him to leave them at his work. However, I kept feeding him the good stuff. Now, nearly 8 years later, he loves whole raw milk, backyard eggs, real cheese, and everything good that is real food. It took a few years for him to develop his palate to real food, but in that gap, I was gracious to his needs.
One thing to remind your picky adult eater is that their children are learning from them. It’s important for them to try and change their ways to ensure that your own children grow up to be fantastic eaters.
Do you have a picky eater in your family? Tell me, what are your tips for taming the picky eater?