Picky Eater? Here Are My Tips and TRICKSChristine Coppa
My mom friend recently told me her son will only eat Wendy’s chicken nuggets, peanut butter on wheat bread, pasta with a little tad of butter, steamed carrots, boiled eggs, and cheese sticks. Sometimes he’ll eat a waffle. We were watching our boys through a glass window at karate class.
She looked at me desperately and asked what JD’s diet is like. All I could think about was what JD ate for breakfast that morning: Scrambled eggs, steamed broccoli, wheat toast, milk and OJ.
“Mommy, my plate isn’t colorful enough. Can I have something green?” he asked.
I was sipping coffee and watching the news. “Ya want some green apple slices?” I said. “I’ll have some broccoli, instead,” he said. There was some leftover broccoli in the fridge, so I warmed it up. And he gobbled it down.
JD has never had an issue with food. KNOCK ON WOOD. My issue with JD is getting him to drink plain ole water. He loves milk, reduced sugar juice, all-natural lemonade and yogurt drinks. I feel like I completely lucked out.
My best friend’s kiddo will only eat homemade mac ‘n cheese, pizza, nuggets and pancakes. She makes spinach pancakes to sneak in a veggie.
I didn’t want to tell this mom, at the karate studio, that my kid eats filet mignon, homemade soup, pasta with red sauce or oil, baked chicken, pork, Chinese food, rice and beans, cereal, eggs, pancakes, every veggie (raw or cooked) in the book, and will eat strawberries over Oreos any day. We order pizza once a week and he requests mushrooms and broccoli.
I shared these tips with her. (She reported back that “copycat worked!”)
- Eat with your kid. If he sees you eating something he might be inclined to try it too. The way I got JD to try (and now love) Prosciutto (Italian ham) was saying, “Let’s play copy-cat.”
- Take your kid grocery shopping and let him pick out one thing. (Even if it’s a sweet or snack item.) Let them have a little control. I’ve allowed JD to have potato chips with his steak and veggies.
- Go to a Farmer’s Market for produce. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s fun for kids. I let JD have his own basket. He can fill it with five things each week. He usually goes for green grapes, green apples, cherry tomatoes, red peppers and bananas. I pack mine with broccoli, cucumbers, and salad greens.
- Make food fun. JD and I make fruit salad and fruit kabobs together. (Think meat and veggie kabobs, but watermelon, apple, grape, orange – repeat.) We also make happy waffles: Grape eyes, berry nose, orange smile.
- Don’t freak if your child won’t eat X. Sunday night we had ravioli primavera tossed with olive oil and cheese + sausage and peppers. JD did not like the sausage, so he ate ravioli, veggies and some cherry tomatoes. The lima beans are packed with protein. All good!
- If your kid likes a form of something, try it in a different form. My friend’s kid will eat yogurt, so I suggested she buy yogurt drinks and a box of bright straws.
- Color coordinate. She mentioned he’ll eat carrots, so I suggested she buy orange peppers—different taste, same color.
- Negotiate. Her kid loves Wendy’s nuggets (so does JD). Let him have Wendy’s once a week, but bring a side of carrots or yogurt to the fast food joint.
- Peer pressure. JD’s friend Shane told us his favorite food was tortellini when he came with us to Monster Jam. The next day at the grocery store I suggested we buy some. “Shane loves it and you might too!” JD loved it!
- Let your kid cook with you. JD loves meatballs and my dad makes them with him.
- Make a chart. Remember the potty chart? A sticker for every pee or #2? Try a sticker for eating a balanced meal. Or a sticker for at least trying something new. Once there’s 10 stickers your kid gets a prize. Maybe that prize is a trip to the frozen yogurt shop.
- Dine out. JD loves eating out. Positano in Wayne, Nicola’s in Totowa, and Patsy’s in Paterson are among his fave spots. Of course we love diners, too—this is Jersey! He orders his own food and behaves.
Please share your tips and tricks, too.
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