Picky Eating? Keep Things Consistent

Consistency builds lifelong healthy eating habits.

Why Consistency Matters

Picky eating is a normal part of child development. It's tempting to react dramatically – or feel worried - when a once-adventurous eater suddenly snubs their nose at vegetables and demands only plain pasta. However, consistency is your strongest tool if for helping your child build a positive, lifelong relationship with food.

Say More?

It’s hard and confusing (maybe even annoying!) when your child rejects a food they loved yesterday. You are left guessing what they will like or how much they will eat. But, this is a normal developmental phase – so don’t get discouraged.

Patience and persistence are essential.

Kids' preferences will evolve.

The picky eater today may be the vegetable lover tomorrow.

Although it can be unsettling, and sometimes leaves even the most confident parents standing on shaky ground, reacting to picky eating with major changes in how you handle dinner time can disrupt a child’s relationship with food in the long-term.

Bottom Line: Consistency is key.

This approach (consistency) reinforces normal eating habits amidst the fickleness of passing picky phases. It builds a foundation of trust and comfort around food, essential for developing healthy eating patterns long-term.

How to Handle Picky Eating

There are things that you should KEEP doing, and NOT DOING, when your previously adventurous eater decides to put her foot down. 

Here are some things you should KEEP doing

1. Offer Variety: Continue introducing a mix of new and familiar foods – without pressuring them to eat any particular item. Remember, it’s your job to determine what comes into the house – what’s offered at mealtime and when meals and snacks are available. It’s your child’s job to decide what they want to eat (of what’s offered) and how much. Don’t try to control that which is your child’s to choose..

2. Be Considerate, but Don’t Cater: Ensure there's always something on the table they'll eat, but avoid creating entirely custom meals. Catering means giving into their every wish and whim. Considerate means recognizing that your child is gong through a particular phase and needs to have some comfort items along side those that challenge her tastebuds

3. Model the Behavior You Want to See: Demonstrate healthy eating habits yourself. Try new foods alongside them.

4. Invite Participation: Let them help make mealtime decisions, appropriate to their age. Invite them to choose a lunch or dinner. Invite them to come grocery shopping and chose a fruit, vegetable, cereal or snack. Invite them to participate (as is age appropriate) with dinner prep … anything that keeps them engaged with the process of choosing and preparing foods. This will help in the long run.

And some things you should KEEP NOT doing:

1. Catering to Their Whims: Serving only "white meals" because it's demanded sets a precedent you can't always follow. Plus, your child needs to know that you will be consistent even when they push back. You demonstrate your power as a parent when you quietly hold your ground.

2. Praising the Behavior You Want: Reacting too positively to desired eating behaviors can pressure your child and backfire.

3. Getting Discouraged: “Picky eating” is a phase, but it can last a while and it can also come and go. If your goal is to help your kids create life-long positive relationships with food, do not get discouraged! You have a lot of time to have the positive influence you’d like with your children, but you have to be persistent and consistent along the way.

Let's Wrap Up

This phase will pass. Stick with these strategies to guide your child through picky eating without drama. What other challenges do you face with your children's eating habits? Let's discuss below.

Next Steps

For more tips on handling picky eaters and encouraging healthy eating habits, follow or connect below. I'm here to help!

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