Hands up if you have a super picky little eater in the family who absolutely refuses to broaden their horizons where food is concerned? Living with a picky eater can be very frustrating.
You want them to eat a healthy, balanced diet but you’re hitting a brick wall at every turn and every effort you make is rejected. Most kids will go through phases of picky eating, although for some it can last for longer.
Either way, you don’t have to admit defeat. These hacks can turn even the pickiest eaters around and make mealtimes a whole lot easier.
Hack #1 - Sneak Veggies in Wherever Possible
When you’re dealing with a super picky eater, it’s time to get sneaky and creative with packing the veggies into meals they wouldn’t expect to find them in.
You might be surprised at how easy it can be to hide good stuff in meals such as pasta bakes, pizza and casseroles. You can even blend or puree fruits and vegetables and add them to sauces to take things up a notch.
Even desserts are fair game … you’ve probably baked carrot cake or banana bread before but you can go even further than this. You may never have thought of putting sweet potato or zucchini into brownies or cakes but it can work surprisingly well. Whatever you’re cooking or baking, get into the habit of thinking about how you can sneak some veggies into it.
And smoothies are a really easy way to sneak in veggies such as spinach. If your picky eater resists all attempts to feed those greens, this is a great hack for turning the tables. You’ll never win the battle in convincing your kids that certain foods are worth eating and this way, you don’t have to even try. Your kids will never suspect their yummy smoothie has so many nutrients in it!
This hack can be hugely effective when you’ve tried pretty much everything else and got nowhere. Because your picky eater won’t know exactly what is in their meals, they can’t kick up a fuss about it. Sneaky but it works!
Hack #2 - Use the Power of Dips
On their own, raw veggies can be unappealing to kids. That can all change when you throw in a dip to make things more appetizing. If your picky eater loves to dip, it can make things easier when you’re trying to sell veggies to them. Cut up some peppers, celery or carrot and let them dip them in cottage cheese, hummus, peanut butter or yogurt. You might just see their interest go up dramatically when they can keep dipping them in something they enjoy eating. Plus, it disguises the true taste of the veggies!
Hack #3 - Get Them Involved in Food Prep and Cooking
If your picky eater has a starring role in preparing and creating meals, there’s a much bigger chance that you’ll have success in expanding their food tastes.
Go shopping with them and let them pick out the best fruit and veggie options and get them clued up on where their food comes from.
Once you’re back home, make sure that they’re involved as much as possible in the cooking process. Mixing sauces, kneading dough are just a couple of the things that they can help out with while still keeping them safe. If they had a big hand in its creation, certain meals can suddenly become a lot more appetizing than before!
Hack #4 - Make Food Fun
Inventing cool names for foods can be a game changer for picky eaters. You can use the names of favourite characters or just make up something super fun that you know they’ll get on board with.
Another top tip? Get creative with the way that you present foods. If it looks fun, it’s more likely to be better received. Fun shapes can be a winner. Try experimenting with different shapes until you find one that does the trick! Cutters are likely to be your new best friend here and you can also play around with decorating food in a fun way so that it just has to be eaten.
Hack #5 - Put Fruits and Veggies on a Stick
Putting “problem” foods on a stick or skewer can make them more appealing, even to picky eaters. Even fruits and veggies can seem so much more exciting using this hack. It sounds super simple but give it a try and you might be surprised at the reaction!
To get really sneaky, you can blend or juice fruits and veggies and freeze them to make healthy ice popsicles. Your little ones will be none the wiser that they’re made from something that’s good for them! This can work really well if you’re not sure whether your picky eater will go for fresh fruits and veggies, even in stick or skewer form.
At the end of the day, as long as you're continuing to introduce fruits and veggies to your picky eater, they will at least understand these are an important part of their diet, and ONE day (which may seem like forever from now) they will give them a try or at least know they have to "eat their veggies before they get dessert", but if we throw in the towel and give up altogether chances of them growing up not eating veggies even as an adult can increase which will lead to health issues in the future.
So while it's tough at the moment, just stay consistent and know that you're not alone!
If you have a hack for picky eaters, I'd love to hear it! Leave a comment below :)