Connecticut Families Extra: Help for picky eaters, and their parents too!

Connecticut Families

Parents, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s broccoli and brussel sprouts or a healthy main course your child has refused to taste, most parents have experienced the concern and frustration that comes along with a child’s picky eating.

Now, new research validates one tactic parents use to get kids to try new foods

“We’re going to combine the chicken, the chives, the avocado and the tomatoes.”

If none of those foods sound like options your child would eat willingly, take a page from Ali Collins’ recipe book. This mother of two went to culinary school and teaches cooking to kids, but her husband and her son used to balk at new meals.

“I thought oh no, it’s gonna be me, and two people that don’t eat a whole lot of food. And then I just kept trying and trying and always put food out.” Collins.

Developmental psychologists say it’s important to offer different options, but also immerse your kids in the process. Researchers had 64 kids ages five to seven make their own salad or dessert. The researchers then offered them a choice between the food they made or a similar item.

“If they made the salad, they ate more of the salad that they personally made, as opposed to a different salad,” said Jasmine DeJesus, PhD Developmental Psychologist UNC Greensboro.

DeJesus says this suggests that preparing the food can influence what a child eats. She suggests making meals that kids can assemble. Think tacos, where children choose their protein. Then sprinkle cheese, lettuce and vegetables. or salad, with lots of toppings.

“We might put the salad on chips or tacos.”

DeJesus says start small. Have your child put dressing on lettuce so he’ll feel invested. And remember, budget extra time for prep.

“Don’t try to do this on a weeknight when everyone’s stressed and busy and you just want to get food on the table,” said DeJesus.

Tips to help foster new tastes and healthy habits.

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