If you’re looking to feed your kids quality food without a lot of fuss, Lisa Leake is the woman to follow. Her blog, “100 Days of Real Food,” is a wealth of information for adults and kids, but it’s particularly helpful for parents of picky eaters.
Picky eaters are often born out of the control kids have over what goes into their bodies and whether it comes out — two things parents can’t force. Like adults, however, kids also come with their own set of food preferences regardless of the approach a parent takes, so there are ebbs and flows within the boundaries of healthy eating.
Leake’s blog not only takes a look at the foods families should choose, it addresses the challenge of overcoming picky eaters, most importantly giving parents a break.
“Don’t forget that it can take time for one’s palate to adjust to new tastes so if you experience some failed attempts at first don’t be discouraged!” — Leake, 100 Days of Real Food
Leake has 12 tips to help parents of picky eaters convert to “real food,” including some that should prove quite relieving to the moms and dads who have been in the food-battle trenches.
- Start by switching out refined and processed ingredients in meals they love for healthier ones.
- Give your child a good first impression of the real food you want them to try.
- This is an awesome rule considering the level of stress associated with presenting a child on a strict bread-and-pasta diet with a vegetable of any kind. Leake’s philosophy is to go ahead and deep fry it and coat it in butter as long as your child makes a positive association with a quality food.
- If you hide vegetables in your child’s food, don’t keep it secret. Tell your child while they’re eating or after they’ve eaten it.
- Bribe your children to eat “real food” with other “real food.” In other words, if your child loves cheese sticks, offer a cheese stick if it means he will eat a bite of a carrot.
- Let your children pick out their own fruits and vegetables at the farmers market or grow some of your own.
- Get your kids involved in picking out recipes.
- Make a strict “one-bite rule,” in which the child has to take at least one bite of any new food.
- Don’t take the pressure part too far! Be firm, but don’t force to the point of a negative association with trying something new.
- If you have a particularly picky eater, only introduce one new food per meal to keep from overwhelming your child.
- Talk to older children about why it is important to make the changes you are making.
- Have the right expectations. Even though it is daunting to convert a picky eater or an entire family over to eating “real food,” there are plenty of parents out there who will attempt to do so in a weekend. Don’t. It should be a gradual process that will only be permanent if it isn’t rushed.
- Leake reminds parents that it really does take a dozen or more times for a child to realize he may like a new food, something that is easy to forget when he goes nuts over a new food simply being on the dinner plate.
Changing your family to “real food” doesn’t happen overnight, but Leake’s blog is a fantastic resource for parents ready to take on the challenge!