Practical Tips for Picky Eaters
Maybe you struggle with certain foods, or maybe you have a picky eater in your house. Try some of these practical tips to finding food freedom!
More often than not, picky eaters are those with sensory issues in relation to food, textures, smell, taste, and more. In practice, I work with many children on the autism spectrum and nearly all of my clients suffer to some extent with picky eating. Highly selective food choices are extremely common in children with autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders. However, it's in these individuals in particular, that a nourishing whole food diet is so crucial.
So what do we do about it?
First things first, we are all bioindividual, simply meaning that no two people are alike. I highly encourage you to schedule a free discovery call and consultation and work with our practitioners to figure out the root cause behind food aversion in your child and work together to rebuild a varied diet specifically tailored to him or her. However, I know you're here for the quick read so here are my favorite tips and tricks! These tips and tricks aren't guaranteed to work with your picky eater, however they could help and have helped many in the past.
ATTITUDES AND MINDSET
This is such a key part of food freedom that is so often overlooked. More often than not, issues with food selection stem from emotion. Is mealtime a stressful experience for your family? Is there any element of fear? worry? shame? All of these things are going to create negativity at the dinner table and are going to hinder progress. As you introduce new foods and move through this journey, focus on a positive, fun, exciting attitude from the entire family for optimum success!
MEET YOUR PICKY EATER WHERE THEY ARE
Timing is everything. You can't expect your picky eater to fall in love with vegetables overnight after years of not touching them. Furthermore, sudden and drastic changes are likely to result in power struggles and negativity. We need to build said food intake really slowly so young taste buds and sensory perception can adapt, and so security and safety can be established.
THE PRACTICAL TIPS AND TRICKS
Key tip: Add new foods before removing foods.
There are certainly some cooking ideas that could change your current situation and over time, your kids may well eat vegetables very willingly! The time is crucial here- we need to build veggie intake really slowly so young taste buds can adapt and ensure we are adding foods, rather than removing foods at first.
Let's start with a very basic cooking technique to incorporate veggies (and any new foods) into mealtime:
Purées, Smoothies and Juices
If your child completely refuses to eat vegetables or anything that remotely looks like one, then it may benefit you to start from scratch with purées. This is a great idea for those who struggle with stomach acidity issues or a strong gag reflex.
To make your puree:
- Peel and steam the vegetables prior to blending. You can freeze them to have on hand when moving forward!
- When blending, add organic bone broth.
- Use a high quality blender to ensure there are absolutely no lumps or chunks of vegetable in there.
Combinations to try:
For many picky eaters, they will only eat white or beige foods. The white vegetables that are great to disguise are: white potato, celeriac and cauliflower (or a combination of these). Simply blend these together with bone broth to make a smooth puree that matches the color of the other foods on the plate!
Steam sweet potato, cauliflower, courgette, broccoli and spinach. Blend with bone broth.
Add these to your spaghetti sauces, homemade ketchup, or soups. Beets and tomatoes are great to sneak in here.
Carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, orange pepper, cauliflower and swede. This is a delicious blend!
My general rule of thumb with smoothies is that you can add any vegetable to the blender, as long as you add other foods your child enjoys too. For example, add spinach to your smoothie with cacao powder, almond butter, and berries. The cacao powder and berries will mask the taste and color of the spinach. Also consider adding almond or coconut milk for a "milkshake" texture. The opportunities are endless with smoothies! Keep experimenting.
You could also consider buying pre-made organic smoothie pouches and purees. Just be sure that they are USDA organic and contain no additives, fillers, or added sugar.
Substitute Other Foods for Vegetable Versions (one of my favorite things to do, even for my picky husband)
Cauliflower rice and mashed potato is very easy to make and you can even buy it pre-made at Trader Joes, Wholefoods and other grocery stores! Lightly steam cauliflower and blend the florets in a food processor. Stir-fry in tallow or grass-fed butter and serve with your typical rice meal!
These are noodles made from julienned or spiralized vegetables. Zucchinis and sweet potatoes are my favorite vegetables to create noodles with! Simply put them through a spiralizer and lightly sauteed. Serve with sauce.
Buy or make your own chips by simply dehydrating vegetables.
Vegetable Based Desserts
Try recipes like this to sneak vegetables into your child's favorite dessert! So delicious they will never know!
Good luck! I truly hope that some of these ideas will be helpful for your family. I would love to hear how you get on!
Beef Bulgogi Bowls
Makes 2 Large Bowls
1 lb. grass-fed rib eye or sirloin steak
2 tablespoons cooking oil of choice
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
1 tablespoon raw honey or sweetener of choice
2 stems of green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
4 cups dark leafy greens
2 cups roasted broccoli
3 large carrots, roasted
3 cups cauliflower rice
+ hot sauce (to taste)
= spicy mayo!
1) To make the roasted vegetables, throw frozen broccoli and carrots onto a baking sheet, drizzle in cooking oil of choice, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 375F for 30 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.
2) Place the steaks in a large bowl with coconut aminos, minced garlic, raw honey, salt and pepper. Let marinate for 10-30 minutes.
3) In a large skillet, add cooking oil and saute the steaks (along with sauce) over medium high heat or until the steak is medium-well done.
4) Set the beef aside and slice into thin pieces.
5) Using the same pan, heat up your cauliflower rice in the skillet until piping hot.
5) To each bowl, add 2 cups of greens. Top greens with 1-2 carrots, 1 cup roasted broccoli, 1 1/2 cups cauliflower rice, 1/2 lb of steak and chopped green onion. Add a dollop of spicy mayo on the side, sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!
Isabella Grace is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner focusing on toxin-free, natural living to its fullest extent. Her mission is to provide personalized integrative health solutions to create sustainable, lifelong change and enable you to live, love, and serve at your fullest health potential.
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