Tips for meal planning with selective eaters. Picky eating phases are normal but that doesn’t mean you have to cater to your kid’s every request.
Selective eating with kids can be frustrating, especially when you’re doing the best you can to provide them healthy foods. After all, good nutrition is key!
However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy getting your kids to eat the most nutritious foods, let alone try something new.
We talk about this a lot here at PBJs, because if you’re struggling with childhood nutrition, you’re not alone. See this post on things we wish parents knew about picky eating.
But today we just want to highlight two tips for meal planning with selective eaters you can use to help your kids get through these selective stages without compromising your own integrity.
Two Tips for Meal Planning with Selective Eaters
1. Approach mealtime with inclusivity
Everyone’s needs can be met at the same meal. In other words, you don’t have to cater to your child’s individual requests, but you can include things they like at a meal.
For example, if you’re making a pesto noodle dish that you’re pretty sure your child isn’t going to love, that’s okay. Still offer the pesto noodles on their plate, but also include one or two items on everyone’s plate that you know they will eat.
This might mean things like raw carrots with ranch dressing, sliced berries, pistachios, or pitted dates stuffed with cream cheese.
It’s your job as the parent to offer your children healthy options and expose them to new foods. It’s your child’s job to decide what they want to try and how much they want to eat of the options presented to them.
2. Not every plate has to look the same.
Listen, you’re not a short-order cook. But that doesn’t mean your kid is going to eat the exact same plate as you.
For instance, you might be serving pasta with a veggie sauce for dinner. While your plate will probably have the pasta with sauce slathered all over the top of it, your child may be less likely to try it this way.
Instead, serve the pasta in one spot and a little bit of the sauce in another spot on the same plate.
This way they are still exposed to that food but not as pressured to try it if they don’t want to.
The Bottom Line
Again, it’s okay if not everyone’s plates look the same at meals. It’s also okay if your kids don’t eat everything you’ve offered every time.
Nutrition (and selective eating) is a long game. When parents and caregivers do their job with feeding, kids can do their job with eating! It takes time.
Our job is to decide the WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN of eating and it’s our kids’ job to decide IF and HOW much.
We know that selective eating can feel really overwhelming at times, but focusing on what your role is (and not doing your child’s for them) can lessen anxiety around feeding. Remember these meal planning tips for selective eating when your child is going through one of these phases.
Chime In: In what ways does your child express selective eating in your house? How have you responded? What works, what doesn’t? Share in the comments!
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