What a surprise I had yesterday when I was preparing dinner.
My 16-year old son said “Hey, Mom, isn’t that the salmon I like?” To top it off, he ate two portions. Now you have to realize that my children, although exposed to many healthy foods since they were babies, are typical teenagers. They prefer foods any other teen would want – pizzas, burgers, Fettuccini Alfredo, tacos and the like. I have been preparing the same recipe for salmon teriyaki for years. Actually salmon shows up on my table at least once or twice a month. I was floored when my son actually said he likes salmon.
As a dietitian specializing in childhood nutrition who offers helpful suggestions to parents on how to feed their kids, handle picky eaters, and have fun with food, I felt like everything I had been preaching over the years had finally paid off. I tell parents that sometimes it takes at least 10 to 12 offerings of a food for a child to even taste and accept it. I guess after all these years, my son has moved past the acceptance and now into the enjoyment of the dish.
Here Are Some Tips On Feeding Picky Eaters
While you shouldn’t force a food on a child, the experiences they have seeing the food and watching you eat it are worthwhile. You may also add practical advice as to what may be offered at all meals. For example suggesting adding whole grains, applesauce or carrot sticks to balance out a meal. Know that even if a child sometimes “doesn’t eat,” they won’t starve. Keep in mind your habits are modeled by your children. For example, if you watch television while eating, your children will likely grow up doing the same. Offer the most nutritious foods at the beginning of the meal when your child is most hungry. Do not let your children fill up on a beverage before the meal either. Start with some water, but wait on the milk or juice until some food has been consumed.
These and more tips and family favorite recipes can be found in Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents, S. Nissenberg, MS, RD, John Wiley & Sons.