Health & Fitness

Five ways to tackle picky eating in your kids

While hiding vegetables in meals if members of your family are picky eaters is OK, you also want to expose children to vegetables.
While hiding vegetables in meals if members of your family are picky eaters is OK, you also want to expose children to vegetables.

Most parents deal with a picky eater at some point. So, how do you get your kid to eat healthy? A little bit of patience and these five tips:

Don’t Fight

If your child refuses to eat dinner, do not turn it into a war. Eventually, he or she will become aware that he is hungry. Offer them the same plate of food from dinner and give him the option of eating or going to bed hungry — and be prepared to stand by it. It will only take a handful of times of going to bed hungry before he or she starts to choose the first option.

Dr. Oneith Cadiz (1).jpg
Dr. Oneith Cadiz Gregg Pachkowski University of Miami

Offer food, not fillers

Do not substitute snacks or fillers like rice, milk or cereal for meals. Children are smart and they learn that if they wait long enough, they will eventually get cookies if they do not like what is on their plate. It is OK to hide finely chopped veggies in foods, ground meats, soups and sauces, but you also want to expose them to healthy eating habits.

Focus on quality, not quantity

If you do have a very picky eater who only eats small amounts at a time, then you want to be sure that what you are putting in their body counts. Chocolate cake and ice cream can fill a tummy, but they do not provide the right nutrients.

Set an example

If your child sees you eating healthy foods, then he or she is more likely to do the same. Keep healthy snacks around the home. Dipping apples with peanut butter, covering broccoli with cheese, or mixing raisins with their favorite dry cereal is a better option than junk food.

Have FUN!

Involve your child in the meal-prepping process. It may be a little messy, but worth it. Turn off the television and put away all other distractions. Use this time to set an example for healthy eating habits and enjoy time together as a family.

Dr. Oneith Cadiz is as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Health System’s Department of Pediatrics. For more information, visit umiamihealth.org/pediatrics.
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