Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Picky Eater and Food Freedom: Part 2

In my last post The Picky Eater and Food Freedom: Part 1, we talked about the harms of using food with punishments, threatening or forced and coerced. In this post, I promised to offer a few tips that could make households with picky eaters a more enjoyable time, since food is meant to be enjoyed! Also by honoring each persons food freedom, it helps celebrate and trust that our bodies know what they need. While my tips may not work in every family, I am simply sharing what has worked in my own home, not only with my own picky eater but with other picky eaters that have visited too.

Remember a whole lot goes into what makes food seem appetizing from color, to smell to texture to visual appeal!

So here are the tips with no further ado!

1.) Kids do not generally like complicated meals, especially young kids! They want child friendly meals like mac and cheese, bananas, pizza, cheese burgers and fries, so first tip is keep it simple and child friendly.

2.) Even if you are on a tight budget always try to buy one thing new that you and your family have never tried before. By trying new foods, you may just find more and more your child likes. For example I learned my picky eater happens to like okra, Lima beans, clam chowder and frog legs! Also a new food you have no idea what it is can lead to all sorts of fun learning, where did it come from, how is it usually cooked?

3.) Along with trying the new food theme, calmly but firmly request that they try the new food ( any time something new is offered on their plate)  Assure them that if they don't like it they don't have to eat it but they need to at least try it. Let them try it on their terms such as touching their tongue to it, a tiny bite, however they feel comfortable trying it, do not demand they have to have a certain size bite, chew it and swallow it. The simple request is to just try it, stay calm and do not give any sign of reactions. If they try it and eat it great, if they try it and say they don't like it, fine just calmly say "Well you tried it and that is all we ask, you never know if you like something or not unless you try it!" and then drop it.  They may resist trying in the beginning, but once they gain trust that you will not make them eat it, it will become natural for them to try the new foods to decide if they like them or not.

4.) Make a list of what your family members like, if they are like mine, my 2 guys like many of the same things while I will eat anything and my picky eater daughter has a completely different taste from any other member with the exception of Pizza and Country Fried Chicken.  At the same time I cook many different things that I have never made before but I try to offer meals rotating who may like it. So I will cook my new meal, a meal the whole family likes, a meal the guys like, a dinner my daughter will eat. In this manner I know I am at least cooking twice a week a meal the picky eater will eat for sure. Plan your menu accordingly to include each members personal tastes.

5.) The Buffet Style Meals- this is one of my favorite solutions to the picky eater dilemma! While we do not go out often, when we do we always made sure we went to buffet style restaurants.  I knew then my picky eater could choose her own foods and we would not be wasting money on a meal ordered and then tossed because it was not what she thought.   I also apply the Buffet style dinner at home when ever possible, you may want to include it in your menu a few times a week. A buffet style meal 3 times a week plus individual likes taken into consideration well that almost gets you through a whole week of meals that a picky eater will eat!  Instead of mixing a salad together, put everything into individual bowls for a salad bar, you may even include soup for a soup and salad bar  but you can include things like bowls of shredded cheese, sunflower seeds, craisins, shredded lettuce, tomato wedges, sliced mushrooms, Diced apples and perhaps croutons. Let them then, fix their own plates, picking what foods they actually want to eat or try.

The Buffet style dinner can include all sorts of meals like taco night ( again have all food prepared and served in individual bowls)  build your own sandwiches ( variety of lunch meats, cheeses, tomato slices and fresh fruits offered for on the side)  Fajitas ( steak, chicken or pork cooked and then individual bowls of lettuce, cheese, sauteed onions , sauteed green peppers, sauteed mixed veggies, sauteed mushrooms whatever and have tortilla shells to put it all in!)

Even the pickiest of eater will usually eat quite well for buffet style dinners, if you offer a variety of veggies, fruits, cheeses, boiled eggs and meats, all separate and them having full control of the foods they want to include on their plate. A Buffet served meal also works for all 3 meals of the day!