Curbing Picky Eating

As a mother of four, I am amazed at how different each person’s eating habits can be. Likes, dislikes, appetite, and pickiness are all varied for everyone! Although I don’t have all the answers, I have been able to put into practice some common recommendations for picky eating that have been successful time and time again in my own family. When you have type 2 diabetes, you may have to eat some foods that are not your favorite, or stop eating foods that are your favorites!

Tips for dealing with picky eating

If you are feeling some pickiness yourself, or if someone you often eat with is picky, try these tricks to curb it.

1. Never stop offering

When you were five, your dad made you eat cold peas, and even though you are now 45, you hate them with a passion. Memories can be very tied to foods in positive and negative ways. The more you continue to offer a food, the more the palate adjusts. Frequent offerings can also help remove bad memories, increasing the chances that a once hated food can now be liked. Try offering small portions one to three times per week. Even if the picky person still doesn’t like them, keep up with this trend. Unless there is an allergy or diet preference, never ban a food permanently.

My oldest son was the best eater until around age two, where he then decided to voice his own opinions. From ages two to four, he refused to eat peas. I encouraged one bite each time they were offered. Now at age eight, he eats entire bowls of them and considers them one of his favorite vegetables. Taste buds and preferences can change and mature but we have to be willing to keep trying!

2. Offer in different ways

Have you ever noticed that foods taste differently raw vs. cooked? Think about the way a crisp apple tastes when you bite into it, sweet and juicy. Then think of the way it tastes in a pie, no longer juicy or firm, it tends to be more soft and mushy. Textures can also play a large role in the way food is perceived. Try offering fruits and vegetables in different formats. Consider adding blueberries to salads to give a little sweetness and flavor, or steaming and pureeing carrots and adding them to spaghetti sauce. Toss favorite vegetables with less desired ones to make a stir-fry. Use sauces, dressings, or even a little cheese to help increase the palpability of disliked foods. But remember, adding sauces, cheese, and dressing may increase calories and carbohydrates and should be short-term fixes.

3. Eat meals with adventurous eaters

Sometimes all we need is a little peer pressure. If you have a friend or family member that is notorious for trying anything, share a meal with them. Making new memories around new or old foods can be all it takes to erase that pickiness.

Remember, eating a variety of foods is considered a step in the healthy direction!

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