Children have a tendency to be stubborn when it comes to trying new food, especially if it's green or looks like it might be even remotely "good" for them. At a young age we’re naturally reluctant towards trying foods that we’re not familiar with, so don’t take it personally when your little one refuses to eat a plate full of vegetables. There are a few tactics that parents can try however that may help influence kids into becoming more open about trying new food, and in turn get them to eat more nutritious and well-balanced meals.
Mix and disguise
Innocent Deception can go a long way in getting selective eaters to eat healthier. Mixing healthy food with ones that you know they enjoy and are familiar with can give plates a nutritional boost without much protest. You might find that vegetables which usually refuse to be eaten when cooked, go down a lot easier when pureed. They’ll probably be more likely to eat whole grain if it is stuffed with PB&J, or fruit if it’s blended into a smoothie.
Involve them in the preparation
Inviting your child to join you in the kitchen as an “Assistant Chef” to help prepare meals is a great way to get them eating new things. Have them help out by measuring, stirring, or sprinkling on seasoning and they'll be more inclined to try food that they helped create. Besides the additional family bonding time that you get, you’ll also have a great opportunity to educate them on exactly what they’re eating. Explain how proper nutrition can help them succeed both academically and athletically.
There are a number of things that you can do to make your lunches more appealing to picky eaters, bento lunches being a very popular option. A little extra time and creativity can turn a lunch that once refused to get eaten into a new favorite without changing any of the ingredients. For instance, a cookie cutter can transform a traditional sandwich into a holiday-themed or character-inspired lunch. Skewering fruit and vegetables onto a toothpick and providing dip or dressing can also be a successful strategy for little ones who enjoy eating with their hands.
Lead by example
What might seem like an obvious suggestion could actually be the most important. What your children watch you eat significantly influences their own habits, for better or worse. Expanding your diet to include different food can have positive impacts on their own behavior. This doesn't apply exclusively to parents either, siblings and friends can also be great motivators as well.