Do you have a picky eater in the family? Teach your child to expand their horizons and eat adventurously by going out to eat each week! By exposing your child to different tastes of foods, you are teaching him or her to try new things, experience new cultures, and keep an open mind. Who knows, maybe junior will even find a new favorite food!
Of course, in order to change your child’s picky behavior towards food, you can’t just go to any restaurant. You’ll want something healthy, something with options for child-sized servings, and—don’t forget—something that also appeals to you. Here’s what to look for in a meal out for picky eaters.
It is important to set an example for your child–even when it comes to eating. Aside from modeling the behavior of trying new food, raise your children to crave proper nutrition by eating healthy. Unfortunately, many affordable restaurants do not offer many healthy food options. Fast food chains are notorious for packing sugars, fats and other unhealthy substances into their meals. So, if you’re looking for a nutritious meal out, you’ll need to do your research beforehand. Check out restaurant menus and pricing online prior to leaving the house in order to find the healthiest options for your family.
Remember, it is important for your child to get protein and healthy carbs, but to avoid bad fats and most types of sugars.
Sometimes picky eaters decide they dislike a new food before even trying it. Some psychologists suggest that the appearance of unknown foods may be overwhelming or anxiety-provoking to picky eaters. You can make little one’s meals look less intimidating by having it served in smaller portions. With less food on their plate, your little one may work up the curiosity to try a few bites of their mysterious entree. Order from the kids’ menu to get smaller serving sizes, or talk to your waiter to make arrangements for a smaller plate of food.
This is also something that is easy to practice at home: give your child smaller helpings at dinner to encourage them to eat a healthy amount.
Something for Yourself
Have you forgotten someone? Yourself! Choose a restaurant where you genuinely want to eat. You should not change your diet to match your picky eaters. In fact, you should attempt to train your picky eater to expand their diet. Unless you are choosing overly seasoned or spiced foods, your child should be able to try—and hopefully also like—whatever is on the menu at your choice of restaurant.
(And if you haven’t had the chance to eat what you’ve wanted for a few meals, do something nice for yourself!)
A Simple Trick
One simple trick I’ve used with a lot of success came from a recent Disney movie – Zootopia. There is a song called Try Everything. My kids adore that song – they know all the words, and just playing a clip from YouTube will convince them to taste new foods, or even try a new experience they were afraid of (it convinced my daughter to try riding a pony and got my son tasting new vegetables almost daily).
It’s not easy to change the habits of a picky eater. But, you can start by taking your child to various restaurants to try diverse foods. Who knows? In time, your child may actually want to try new foods without you ever even asking them to!