Picky eaters can drive those who cook for them nuts. Textures, smells, odors, or just the look of a dish can set them off and send them packing for a simpler, safer food.
Whether your picky eater is a child or an adult, all hope is not lost. There are many ways to introduce picky eaters to fresh fare, and maybe even make it their favorite.
Don’t Ask For A Singular Bite
“Come on, just one bite!” This is a common tactic used to push picky eaters to try new things. It seems like a good way to get them adjusted to a new food, but it could actually be counterproductive.
This could make the picky eater resist even more. Put the food on the plate and let them make the decision for themselves.
Do it Gradually
Don’t pile the person’s plate with a bunch of food they are unsure of. It can become overwhelming and turn them off to eating completely.
Pair Familiar Foods with Unfamiliar Ones
Sometimes you can combine a food they love with one they are unsure of. For instance, pepper jelly: jelly is a commonly liked food, while peppers are often balked at. Pepper jelly is the best of both of these worlds, and can be paired with other easily eaten foods like crackers or bread to help soften the blow of the unknown.
But Don’t Hide Anything
Be upfront with the ingredients on the plate. Picky eaters are smarter than they look, and can most likely identify a problem food even if you try to mask it with other parts of the dish.
This will cause distrust and set you up for failure in the long run.
Let Kids Play With Their Food
Forget what you may have been told – you can play with your food!
Let them explore foods by picking them apart, picking them up, rolling them around on their plate, and smelling them. This tactile experience will get them used to the food on their own terms.
You may even want to start at the very beginning and teach kids how to get their hands dirty planting fruits and vegetables. Involving them in their food from beginning to end of the growing process makes it more likely they will want to try the result of their efforts.
Your picky eater shouldn’t be expected to eat an entire helping of peas or a big piece of cheese. Tiny pieces, even as small as the tip of a finger, make eating less overwhelming. The mountain is now an anthill, a challenge that looks easier to get through.
Invite a Good Eater To Your Table
Do you know someone who is downright enthusiastic about food? This is the type of person you want present at your table, eating right alongside your picky eater.
Kids like to copy what adults are doing, especially if it looks fun. An excited swipe off the veggie plate could be enough to get your child grabbing for the same food.
Don’t Give Up
Helping picky eaters expand their horizons can be a frustrating but rewarding task. Hold steady and don’t give up. You never know when a breakthrough is around the corner.