The perfect meal for a picky eater has one or two foods that your picky eater likes and will usually/always eat, but it also has foods the rest of the family likes, foods that make the meal nutritionally balanced and foods you eventually want your picky eater to like and eat.
If we restrict picky eaters’ meals to foods they like and will usually/always eat, we’re actually helping to restrict their diets. By removing exposure to new, different or non-preferred foods, we’re making sure those foods stay new, different and non-preferred. It’s the exposure (and possibly multiple, multiple refusals) that gives kids the opportunities they need to get used to and hopefully, eventually eat and like those new and different foods.
The perfect meal for a picky eater is made up of a combination of foods they like and foods they don’t. We want one or two foods they like on the table because it would be really hard to sit down to a meal where we didn’t like anything. Think about it for yourself. If you sat down to a meal that consisted only of foods you don’t like, you probably wouldn’t want to be there. You wouldn’t be able to participate. There would be nothing to pass to you, nothing you even wanted on your plate.
But, if there’s something for the pickiest child to eat on the table, (even if it’s a basket of crackers) she can still participate in the meal. She’s able to eat something to fill her belly so she’s not starving and she’s learning a lot about the foods other people are eating, even if she’s not ready to try them yet.
To figure out which new foods to offer that your picky eater is most likely to try you can sign up here to get access to the texture preference and taste preference worksheets in the free resource library! You’ll also get access to the Animal Alphabet e-book to add fun food-learning to pre-literacy play!
Have fun and happy food play! 🙂