Help! My kid literally won’t touch any food that is green. What can I do to help him diversify his diet?
Big sigh. We’ve heard (and experienced) this one many times before. If your kid won’t touch plain pasta if it has even the tiniest speck of chopped parsley on top, we feel your pain.
This is one of those problems that you can approach in a few different ways, but you also need to be a little patient in letting things improve over time. So settle in for a long learning curve, and in the meantime you can try these few baby steps:
Keep offering green foods: Some experts say that you have to offer foods more than a dozen times before a picky eater will decide that he or she likes it. So if she turns up her nose, don’t give up entirely. Just offer it again and again without judgment.
Enforce the “one-taste” rule: He doesn’t have to eat the whole thing, or even like it, but he does need to take a little taste each time it’s offered. Don’t make a big deal of it, and don’t react to all of his drama either – just be neutral in offering it and praise him for trying.
Change the format: If she won’t eat spinach salad, maybe the spinach tastes too bitter for her. So cook it up and add it, pureed, to your tomato sauce (and you can do the same for cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and so on). If he won’t touch big pieces of lettuce, try shredding it into tiny pieces so it’s a little more palatable and easier to eat in a taco or burrito (and you can do the same for zucchini and other squashes). If she won’t eat carrots or celery, chop them and cook them in a chicken noodle soup where they’ll be soft and blend in more easily taste-wise (and you can do this as well for just about any sturdy vegetable).
Grow it or pick it: Start a small garden and grow a few different kinds of vegetables. When your child feels ownership, she may be more excited to enjoy the fruits of her labors. And take her to the farmers’ market whenever possible so that she can see, feel, smell, taste, and choose a variety of different fresh fruits and vegetables. Again, when she has selected the food, she may be more likely to try it.
Offer good-quality foods: If your child won’t eat mushy peas from a can, maybe it’s because they’re…mushy peas from a can. Offer him the best possible foods you can find (see above) because he’ll be more likely to eat the stuff if it tastes good.
Set an example: Make sure your kids see you eating and enjoying a “rainbow” of healthy foods every day. And be patient. Even the pickiest eaters in the world will eventually break down when they are exposed to fresh, great tasting food day after day.