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12 Tips for Curing Picky Eaters

12 Tips for Curing Picky Eaters

It’s common for many young children to be picky eaters. Your child can happily eat some foods while refusing the others. This can lead to an unbalanced and unhealthy diet, which is something you’ll want to avoid. Whether this is just a short phase or it lasts longer, you can help your child get used to balanced nutrition with a few simple pieces of advice. The thing that most often occurs if your child is a picky eater is a power struggle, and it is important that you hold your ground, use smart tactics and be patient.

1. Don’t spoil your child by giving in and offering their favorite food all the time

Plate full of candy

    If a child refuses food, parents get scared that he or she will stay hungry. However, if this happens you should definitely avoid giving your child his or her favorite food immediately. This is because your child will learn to manipulate you into getting what they want every time, and the food the child wants probably isn’t healthy or rich in essential nutrients. Instead, you can give the child a smaller portion or a healthy snack like some fruit. That way they will not have an empty belly and they will be more eager to eat when it’s time for the next meal.

    2. Have your main meals at a set time each day

    Set meal time

      Three main meals a day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—served at about the same time every day is the key. You can also give your child one or two healthy snacks a day, but not more than that. If a child eats snacks all day, especially before meals, she won’t be hungry and probably will refuse to eat. Many kids would rather have a pack of chips than a balanced meal. If you have meals at a set time of day, the child will eventually get hungry right before the meal, which reduces the chances of him or her refusing to eat. Always keep at least two hours between snacks and meals.

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      3. Feed your kids the same thing you eat

      Set a good example

        Be honest, even you would probably rather eat pizza than something healthy, but if you eat a burger and feed your kids vegetables, they will protest and want the burger, too. Kids look up to you. So if you want to teach your child to eat a variety of food, you should set the example and do it yourself first. And if you are all eating the same thing, your child won’t have a reason to complain.

        4. Have several different types of food at every meal

        Diverse plate

          We all know that a balanced meal has many health benefits. Your child needs over 40 different nutrients every day for good health, and, of course, you cannot find all of that in a single type of food. There are five food groups important for child’s nutrition—dairy, veggies, fruits, grain foods, and meat. All of this combined gives your child enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Besides, when you serve different types of food every time, even if your child refuses to eat some of them, he will still get enough nutrients for the day.

          5. Take away distractions at the dinner table

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          Playing at the table

            Your child should know that when it’s meal time it’s time to eat. That means no TV, no games, and no toys or other distractions at the dinner table! If you let your child play while eating she will learn that the dinner table is a playground and get too distracted to eat. Most kids would rather play than eat, especially if it doesn’t like the food you served. So, save games and toys for the playground and the food for the dinner table.

            6. Teach your kids proper table manners

            rich kids table manners

              Let’s face it—most kids are not neat while eating. They spit and burp and eat with their hands. In order to teach you child proper table manners, what you have to do first is set the example. Don’t let your kid see you eating with your hands, or sitting on the couch. Children imitate what they see. Manners start at the moment you call your children for dinner. One of the first things you have to teach your kids is that they have to wash their hands before meal, find their spot at the table, and sit until everyone is done. Also, try eating with the whole family as much as possible . And, of course, don’t forget to praise your child. When they do something right tell them, “Good job!”

              7. Never try to bribe your child with sweets

              Girl eating doughnut

                Unlike just giving in and letting them eat what they want, some parents try to bribe their kids with the promise of dessert. If you try to bribe a child with sweets she will get used to it and will ask for sweets every time. The child will then associate sweets with some kind of reward and vegetables will become even less appealing compared to sweets. This fosters bad habits and can lead to eating disorders later in life, e.g., eating lots of sweets when you feel bad, or as a reward after a hard day at school or work.

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                Of course, it is alright to give your kids sweets from time to time. If the child is completely restricted from having snacks or sweets, the desire for them will increase, and the probability of a child overeating when they do get the chance to eat sweets is high. Just don’t make them a bargain chip or special reward. You can reward them with fun play time or by teaching them a cool skill.

                8. Make sure they eat at least one bite of everything on the plate

                Healthy food mix

                  Many parents are already familiar with the one-bite rule. It states that the child must eat at least one bite of everything on the plate—it’s as simple as that. The child doesn’t have to like it, they just have to take one bite of each food. The most important thing about this rule is that a child doesn’t have to eat more if they don’t like it, so don’t force your kid to eat more. One bite is one bite. Eventually, the child will probably get used to many different types of food and with some luck, he will eat more than just that one bite.

                  9. Let them try out different recipes with same food

                  Tomato recipes

                    Picky eaters refuse eating many types of food, but in most cases it’s vegetables. You can try to make your child eat something they don’t like by simply changing it a bit. If the kid won’t eat tomatoes, try making a nice tomato sauce, or if she doesn’t like boiled eggs, try making an omelet. For every food your kid hates, you can find a recipe for making it another way, so that your kid doesn’t even know what’s really in the meal.

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                    10. Keep offering your kid different foods he or she gets used to them

                    Child unhappy with dinner choice

                      If your child refuses to eat something, don’t write it off immediately. Just switch to something else. Children will usually need at least 10-15 tries to get used to a new taste. You will just have to be persistent. When a kid doesn’t like the new food the first time, try it again. Kids often smell or touch new food first, so just be patient. There are some easy shortcuts for this problem, like serving new food with your child’s favorite food or the one bite rule mentioned previously.

                      11. Chop up veggies to into small chunks and put them in every dish

                      Frying chopped veggetables

                        Lots of kids hate vegetables. One of the most difficult things is to get your child to eat vegetables, especially if he or she is a picky eater. If you chop up veggies into very small chunks you can put them in every meal without the child even noticing. Be sure to clean the veggies properly first—you don’t want your child to start associating vegetables with stomach problems. Kids often use their eyes to gauge if something seems appealing, and if they see vegetables on the table they will refuse to eat them. You can also cut the food into various shapes with cookie cutters. This way you can get your child to like fruits and vegetables without them knowing.

                        12. Spices and sauces are a great way to help the child associate new foods with a familiar taste

                        A variety of spices

                          If it’s hard to get your child to try new food, you should definitely try this: Is there a spice or sauce your child enjoys? Just put that in the food you are trying to get your kid to eat, and you will get new food but with an old familiar taste. Try putting less of it in the food every time until the child gets used to a new taste. That is a great way to help your child gradually warm up to new food and new tastes.

                          Proper nutrition is vital for a child’s health. Children have their own unique needs regarding food because they are still growing, and it’s up to their parents to fulfill those needs. Always remember that the key for healthy eating is to enjoy a variety of foods. That’s the only way your body can receive all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function properly. And don’t forget to celebrate small victories—if your child accepts even one type of new food, it is a good start!

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                          Published on November 14, 2018

                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                          With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                          For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                          In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                          Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                          Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                          It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                          For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                          Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                          Symptoms of Fatigue

                          Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                          • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                          • mental blocks
                          • lack of motivation
                          • headache
                          • dizziness
                          • muscle weakness
                          • slowed reflexes and responses
                          • impaired decision-making and judgement
                          • moodiness, such as irritability
                          • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                          • reduced immune system function
                          • blurry vision
                          • short-term memory problems
                          • poor concentration
                          • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                          Causes of Fatigue

                          The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                          • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                          • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                          • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                          • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                          Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                          Medical Causes of Fatigue

                          If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                          Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                          Anemia

                          Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                          Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                          There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                          This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                          Diabetes

                          Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                          Sleep Apnea

                          Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                          Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                          Thyroid disease

                          An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                          Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                          • Lack of sleep
                          • Too much sleep 
                          • Alcohol and drugs 
                          • Sleep disturbances 
                          • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                          • Poor diet 

                          Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                          • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                          • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                          • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                          • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                          Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                          Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                          • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                          • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                          • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                          How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                          Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                          1. Tell The Truth

                          Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                          To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                          Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                          The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                          One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                          • How you feel
                          • What time of day it is
                          • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                          • How your mind and body reacts

                          This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                          2. Reduce Your Commitments

                          When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                          If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                          When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                          Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                          3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                          If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                          Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                          If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                          Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                          Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                          4. Express More Gratitude

                          Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                          It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                          Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                          5. Focus On Yourself

                          Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                          There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                          But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                          We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                          6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                          Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                          Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                          The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                          Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                          7. Take a Power Nap

                          When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                          Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                          This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                          8. Take More Exercise

                          The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                          Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                          The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                          You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                          9. Get More Quality Sleep

                          To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                          Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                          My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                          10. Improve Your Diet

                          Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                          Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                          On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                          To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                          Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                          Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                          11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                          Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                          When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                          Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                          My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                          12. Get Hydrated

                          Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                          Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                          If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                          The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                          The Bottom Line

                          These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                          If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                          Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                          [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                          [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                          [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                          [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                          [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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