Trying to get a child to eat when they’re a picky eater can be stressful. When you add a food restriction to the mix, like gluten-free, feeding your child can seem like an impossible task; however, it doesn’t need to be. Kristen Yarker, a dietitian and child-feeding expert, shares practical strategies below to help you get your gluten-free child to try new foods.
1) List Your Options
The first step to support your picky eater is to change the focus from what your child can’t eat, to the many foods that they can eat. An easy way to change that focus is to write it down because seeing really is believing. Write a list organized by food group that lists every gluten-free food that your child does eat, and put it up somewhere handy so you can easily reference it when planning meals.
2) One Meal for the Whole Family
It can be tempting to serve your child their own gluten-free item when the rest of the family is eating something that contains gluten, but this can actually fuel picky eating. Instead, make one meal for the whole family. Kids are more likely to try a new food when they see people whom they trust also eating it. Life is busy enough with work, lengthy commutes, and chauffeuring kids around to extracurricular activities. Don’t add making multiple meals each night to your workload (and stress level). Plus, sharing food is a powerful way to connect people.
3) Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Getting a picky eater to try new foods is a lesson in patience. Studies show that it takes anywhere from 10 to 30 times before a child will eat a food, yet some parents give-up offering a food after around five times. It can feel like a waste of time, food, and money to keep making things that your child doesn’t eat; however, don’t give up. You never know when the magical day will arrive that your child eats the food you’ve served them over and over (and over) again. This is another reason why it’s important to make one meal for the whole family. Even if your child doesn’t eat it, you, and your other family members will. So, it’s not a waste.
4) Make Exploring New Foods Fun
Having a new food arrive on your plate in front of you at mealtime can be intimidating for a picky eater. Engage kids’ natural desire to explore the world around them by choosing family activities that involve experiencing new food.
For example, the Gluten Free Expo taking place January 13-14, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre offers hundred’s of gluten free products you can sample and save all in one location, so you can try before you buy to take the mystery out of purchasing for your picky eater. The best part is that everything there will be gluten-free, so your child can try anything and everything! Kids 10 and under get in free when accompanied by an adult. To learn more about the Expo or to get tickets, please visit www.GlutenFreeExpo.ca
By: Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, www.KristenYarker.com
About the Author: Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD is a dietitian and child-feeding expert in the Victoria and Vancouver BC areas. www.KristenYarker.com