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When you have kids who are picky eaters, it can take months—even years—
to get them to try a bite of new, healthy foods.
You do your best to offer fruits and vegetables, try new recipes, different cooking methods or add butter or cheese to make them more appealing but nothing seems to work.
Picky eating is really frustrating and if you’re ready to throw in the towel, you’re not the only one.
According to a 2018 survey out of the U.K., half of moms and dads have given up persuading their kids to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day.
Take heed—and stick with it.
With spring time in full swing, there is perhaps no better time of year to offer all the healthy superfoods the season has to offer and take advantage of fun activities that can get your kids out of their picky eating behaviors for good. Here are 5.
Short on time? Get 3 tips in this quick video.
1. Berry picking
Although my kids eat just about anything, they have fallen into picky eating patterns in the past.
Last year for example, the only types of fruits my older daughter would eat were bananas, mangos, watermelon and cantaloupe.
As a toddler, she used to eat berries by the handful but now it had become impossible.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal—she was eating fruit after all—but berries are high in fiber, a great source of antioxidants and low glycemic, so they don’t have as high of an impact on blood sugar as the types of fruits she was eating.
Kids have their own food preferences of course, so I didn’t push the issue. But my gut feeling was that it was a phase.
Everything changed when we visited my mother-in-law in Delaware and made an impromptu trip to a blueberry orchard.
Maybe it was the experience of berry picking (likely) or that her Italian grandmother, who can get her to eat just about anything, was there (even more likely).
But within seconds, my daughter was saying: “I love blueberries!” and “blueberries are delicious!”
As we continued to pick the blueberries, I shook my head. I couldn’t believe how one new experience could literally change her perspective in seconds flat.
One of my Instagram followers had a similar experience:
“… this is how I got my daughter [to] eat more fruit. We go pick fruit all the time! She loves it and most of the time more goes in her tummy than in the bucket.”
May is the season to pick strawberries, but keep up the fun throughout the summer by picking blueberries, peaches, nectarines and cherries as well.
2. Farmers’ market
Visiting your local farmers’ market is a spring activity that can put an end to picky eating.
Kids learn where food comes from and it’s a new way for them to be exposed to local fruits and vegetables.
Let your kids pick out something they’ve never tried before and prepare it together at home—it will make them feel empowered and more likely to eat it.
If you’re not the greatest home chef or could simply use some pointers, I recommend you take my friend Katie Kimball’s Kids Cook Real Food online video eCourse.
3. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm allows you to purchase local, seasonal food directly from local farmers.
You purchase a “share,” usually a box of vegetables, but some CSAs also include other farm products like eggs and cheese, that you receive each week.
It may be a benefit or a drawback depending on how you look at it, but you’ll receive varieties of vegetables that you never tried or heard of before.
Some CSAs may also allow you to personalize your share and choose some of the produce that’s included.
If you’re not ready to commit to a CSA, then take a visit to a local farm. Many local farms host tours, cooking classes and special events that can encourage your kids to try new foods.
4. Plant a garden
Last year, our family planted our first vegetable garden and my kids were thrilled to pick and eat the salad, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that we grew.
A family garden is one of the best ways to encourage healthy eating. In fact, a September 2016 study out of the University of Florida suggests kids who garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables throughout their lives.
When kids learn how to grow their own food, they get really excited to see the fruits—and vegetables—of their labor and their perspectives can change overnight.
If you don’t have space for a garden, use small potted plants, grow herbs, sprouts or microgreens, or look for community gardens where you can plant your own food.
5. Have a picnic
Sometimes all it takes to get your kids out of their picky eating behaviors is a change of scenery.
Take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days and head out to the park, picnic grounds or even your own backyard for a picnic with your kids.
Pack foods you know they’ll eat in addition to some new, in-season foods, which they may be more likely to eat because eating outside is something different—and fun.