Sheltering at Home with a Picky Eater? Here Are 5 Feeding Tips to Help During Quarantine and Beyond
During stressful times, it can be especially important to maintain our healthy living habits of sleep, exercise and healthy eating. While managing a picky eater during this difficult time can seem like an overwhelming task best left for a different day, this can be an ideal time to dig in and work on the behavioral task of feeding. Here are some helpful tips to support you along the way.
Maintain a Structure for Meals and Snacks
Try to keep a regular schedule for meals and snacks so that children know food is available at certain times of the day. It is a good idea to offer 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks a day, remembering to limit drinks and snacks before meals. Timing is so important, so be sure to offer new foods when your children are hungry and rested. A good plan is to offer only one new food at a time, pairing the new food with other familiar foods on the plate to support overall success.
Keep Healthy Foods Readily Available
Organize your kitchen so that healthy snacks are readily available for children, and only have available what you want them to eat. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables washed, cut, and packaged so they are easily accessible. Provide quick and healthy protein and complex carbohydrate option snacks for energy and to sustain children between meals. Strive to teach children the difference between healthy snacks and ‘sometimes treats’.
Make Food Fun!
Presentation is so important to children. Use your creativity to present familiar foods in different shapes and arrange colorful foods on a plate in a fun way. This helps children to try new and familiar foods prepared in different ways. Mix things up by having a ‘salad bar’ or a ‘picnic’ at mealtime. Use fun plates, napkins or food themes. To make a new food more appealing, you can give it a fun name, perhaps even using your child’s favorite character. Make some healthy snacks together, create new recipes, or even try some science experiments with food.
Teach Kids About Healthy Eating
Research shows that children are more likely to try foods that they helped to create. Children can take part in preparing foods in simple ways. They can help with stirring, pouring, and adding cut vegetables to favorite dishes. Using plastic kid chef knives is a perfect way to help kids get up close and personal with their fruits and veggies. Let your child engage with books, puzzles, and apps that are geared toward healthy eating. This is a great time to get started with some indoor planter boxes, or to spend time planning for your summer garden outdoors. Teach kids about eating healthy food for a healthy body and the importance of having a rainbow on their plate – colorful fruits and vegetables with every meal.
Children are asserting their independence when refusing foods. Give them some sense of control by allowing them to make some choices from the foods on their plate at mealtime. It may take several attempts before your child tries and decides that he likes a new food. Generally, the more it becomes familiar to him, the more likely he will be to try it. Presenting the new food 1 or 2 times a week helps the food to become familiar yet is not too frequent for a child to lose interest or become overwhelmed. Patience and persistence are key. Make healthy eating a priority and stay the course. Builder a better eater has a huge payoff with lifelong benefits.
Here is a yummy, healthy snack to make at home with the kids:
4 Ingredient No-Bake Energy Bites
1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup peanut butter or sun butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Mix everything together well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or freeze for 30 minutes).
- Use about one heaping Tablespoon of the mixture to press/roll into a ball. Repeat the process with the rest of the mixture. This recipe will make about 16 energy bites.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.