Picky Eaters & Meal Prep
In May we partnered with Elia of, Feed Your Sister, to chat all things picky eating and meal prep. Elia is a meal prep GENIUS! She has piles of knowledge and resources for you and your family. She offers in-home services, online courses, and downloads to promote self-care through meal prep, kitchen organization, and healthy stress free meals. We loved chatting with her and adding in our theraputic knowledge of picky eaters to her experience with meal preparation. We are so excited to share that conversation, summed up below (in blog form!)
Preparing meals in advance is a wonderful way to help your picky eater. When food is ready to serve at mealtime, the stress of cooking evaporates and leaves you time to connect with your child and have a family meal. The importance of family meals cannot be overstated. Picky eaters benefit from eating together as a family in several ways:
- Developing mealtime conversational skills will carry over into schooltime lunches and help your little one learn more social skills. It will also get them ready to eat at restaurants and in new environments.
- Learning self-feeding and utensil use, especially when your child is transitioning to solids, is foundational to their comfortability in eating as they grow. Just watching you eat is a great example for them to imitate.
- Mindful eating will become their go-to. Mindless eating, with an iPad or TV to distract them, can lead to worse picky eating and obesity.
So, you have your prepared meal ready to go, family assembled, table set…how can you make the family meal as productive as possible for your picky little one?
- Expose them to new foods by serving items on platters and showing them what you’re eating. Even if they don’t eat the same thing as you during the meal, exposure to new food is a great step in expanding their diet. Platters can be a great tool when they are passed around the table. The exposure of seeing, smelling, and touching new foods in a safe environment will help them build up their resolve to try something new! The more exposure the better.
- Have an “all done” bowl on the table. This will not only help with mess, but it will eliminate their chance to escape the meal if they don’t want to eat something. They can simply place something in the bowl and move on to something else. You can use the bowl too!
- Use dips! If your child likes a dip such as ketchup, BBQ sauce, or ranch, it can help them try a new food by masking it with a flavor they know and like already.
- Remember that not all foods may be safe for little ones with structural issues. If your child is struggling to transition to solids, they may need to see a feeding therapist to uncover why. When kids lack the skills needed to eat a specific texture, they quickly learn that food is “unsafe.” Kids spit out unsafe foods and will most likely refuse that food in the future. Parents often confuse spitting out foods as picky eating, but it is actually an anti-choking protective mechanism. Once your baby gains the necessary skills to safely chew and swallow a texture of food, you can safely re-introduce that food into your child’s/baby’s diet.
Our values go hand in hand with the values of Feed Your Sister. We want mealtimes to be less stressful, which Elia does via meal prep and we do it with feeding therapy. But the goal is having a healthy and joyful relationship with food no matter what! Family meals are one of the most important foundations you can build for a positive lifelong relationship with food and eating. It’s never too early to eat as a family.
For kid-friendly recipes and meal ideas, check out Elia’s Prep & Party: Baby & Toddler Edition replay. And definitely add her naked turkey pesto meatballs and miso maple chicken to your next meal plan. Both recipes are always a hit for the entire family!
If you struggle with meal planning for your picky eaters, drop in to the next Prep & Party with Elia. And be sure to follow her on social media to catch all the newest updates to Feed Your Sister
Written by: Rachael Rose, Owner/Found of Creative Speech Therapy NYC and Elia Wolberger of Feed Your Sister