Have you ever wondered why some children are picky about what they eat and others aren’t? Maybe you even have a picky eater at home.
There are a lot of reasons for picky eating, some physiological and some behavioral. It turns out that picky eating is often driven by something other than taste. Who knew? Try simply adding more fun to your meals and see what happens!
5 ideas for adding more fun to your meals
Pump up color. A recent Cornell University study took a different approach to the issue of picky eaters. The study found that most children respond more to color and variety in food than taste. More interesting, the study found that what kids find visually appealing can be very different from what adults like.
For example, children like plates with more options and more colors than adults do. According to the study, kids like plates with 7 different items and 6 different colors the best. Compare that to adults, who favored plates with only 3 items and 3 colors the best.
Play with your food. It turns out that children respond very positively (or negatively) to the way food is presented. If it’s presented in a design or fun shape, food is more appealing to children. Most kids think of foods like Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes, cereal with a “face” made from fruit, or peas arranged in the shape of a heart, as “fun.”
Try it different ways. It turns out that many picky eaters react to things other than taste. That makes sense. Have you ever heard a child say “I don’t like that,” when they haven’t even tasted it? What are they reacting to – certainly not the taste. It may be the smell, the color, the texture or the way it’s presented. Preparing a food in a different way may be more to your child’s liking.
Lighten up. Children also react positively if they perceive a meal as “fun.” I still remember eating at the homes of my friends when I was growing up. Some meals were fun; others weren’t. When it was fun, I usually ate whatever they served. When the family took mealtime more seriously, it wasn’t as much fun and I was more picky about what I ate.
Be a good role model. As parents, we need to be role models. It’s hard to get your kids to drink milk when you’re drinking soda, wine or some other drink. It’s also difficult to “make” your kids eat their vegetables when you don’t eat yours. So, model the behavior you want your kids to follow.
Make “fun” the main dish at your next family meal! Serve foods with a lot of color and arrange the food in a fun way. Then, laugh at the colors and shapes you’ve created – have fun and you may find that your picky eater isn’t so picky after all.
About the author: Vitaerobics Co-owner Michael McCauley is a personal fitness chef and nutrition specialist, author and speaker. Vitaerobics has helped more than 750,000 people create their own healthy family future. Get his FREE eBook "Do You Wish Your Kids Ate Better: Use Mealtime to Create Healthy Habits and a Healthy Family Future" at: www.HealthyFamilyFuture.com/GiftForYou.