Summer time is the perfect time for cookouts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and experiencing the wonderful flavors that summertime has to offer. As delicious as the food and drinks of summer can be, if you have a picky eater in your family, getting them to try new fruits, vegetables, and other dishes can be extremely difficult.
What do you do when you are trying to get your child to try new foods? What is the best way to go about it? Below are a few ways that you can help your picky eater open up to trying new foods both during the summer and any time of the year.
Your Picky Eater and Texture
Fruits are an amazing and refreshing treat to have during the summertime. Watermelon on a hot day is a favorite cookout treat, as well as berries and other seasonal fruit. However, some young children want no part of the fruit for a variety of reasons.
One of those reasons could be the texture of the fruit. In fact, many people–even adults–hate the little seeds in raspberries. They love the taste but hate the way that the small seeds get stuck in their teeth and just ruin the whole experience. Some people find watermelon to be too mushy, and some people might just hate the feeling of a juicy berry or piece of fruit exploding in their mouth.
Luckily, there are many ways you can introduce your picky eater to new fruits that avoid the texture issues they might have. Try blending fruits and vegetables into a smoothie, or mix the fruit with some Greek yogurt and freeze into healthy popsicles. These treats are great for the summertime and provide a great way to accommodate your child’s issues with texture.
Find Another Way to Serve the “Hated” Vegetables
If there is something that most picky eaters can agree on is that vegetables and anything green are the worst. They will never put it in their body and nobody is going to make them. Zucchini, bell peppers, garden peas, and other summer vegetables are delicious, but the minute a picky eater hears you even thinking about a vegetable, the conversation is over before it even begins.
One way you can get your picky eater to try healthy foods that they would otherwise refuse is to sneak them into a dish that they might like. Try adding peas to macaroni and cheese, or add acorn squash to chicken and rice. Find other recipes that your picky eater enjoys and throw in a few summer vegetables.
Be Willing to Negotiate with Your Picky Eater
If there is one thing that humans really like to do is to make deals. Negotiating with your picky eater might be one way you can help them try different foods during the summer. Many parents will require that their children eat a few bites of a new food to be allowed a dessert.
Something as simple as just saying they don’t have to eat all of it–just taking a bite will suffice– can go a long way toward getting your picky eater to try new foods. Giving control back to a picky eater can be the key to introducing them to more foods during the summer time.
Set a Healthy Example
Very young children can be some of the most difficult to work with when it comes to certain foods. However, they can also be easily swayed. If your picky eater is young enough, they are likely still relying on you to model expected behavior, and that includes what to eat.
If your picky eater does not want to eat or even try what is on their plate, serve yourself some of the meal and eat with them. Model good eating habits, and encourage them to try some of the food on their plate.
Talk with your young child about how much you love the peas as you take a few bites, and soon your picky eater will give in and try the peas on their plate. And they may even like the peas! When younger children see the adults around them trying new things and encouraging them to try new foods, they will want to follow and try the foods as well.
When You Have the Most Obstinate Picky Eater
What if your picky eater is more than just a picky eater? Many children with sensory processing disorders and autism can struggle with food. And some picky eaters may have an especially difficult time with the texture of some foods, which can become so debilitating that they hardly eat at all.
Luckily, there are therapies available that focus on getting your picky eater to try certain foods and providing ways for you to help your picky eater. The therapist will spend time with the picky eater, slowly getting them to try new things and expanding their “food horizons.”
If you are struggling with an extremely picky eater and are becoming concerned about their eating behaviors, give us a call. One of our trained youth counselors would be honored to work with you and your child to help overcome their aversion to certain foods and learn to enjoy many of the wonderful tastes of summer.