The goal of lunch, along with breakfast and dinner, is to provide proper nutrition for growth and development. If you have a picky eater sometimes this is a difficult task to achieve. There are several approaches to improve a picky eater’s diet:
- Discuss the weekly school lunch menu together. If your child is of school age, go over the menu together, discussing what meals your child will eat. Even if the main entrée is a dish your child will not eat, there are at least two alternative meal options provided each day. These options often include some type of sandwich and a salad. Fruit and vegetable offerings differ from day to day and should also be discussed when planning your child’s lunch. Remember, even if you don’t like green beans, encourage your child to try them; it could be his or her new favorite food.
- Vegetarian options provided. If your child is a strict vegetarian, the school offers options for him or her too. Featured products include Morningstar vegetable burgers and chik’n nuggets. Required paperwork must be filed for your child to receive these products since they are not kept on hand at every school.
- Get the most out of school lunch. In Kindergarten through 8th grade, school lunch provides a hot entrée, 2 vegetable servings, 1 fruit serving and a milk choice. In 9th grade through 12th grade, school lunch provides a hot entrée, 2 vegetable servings, 2 fruit servings and a milk choice. Encourage your child to try at least one new food a week to get the most out of the well-balanced meal the school provides.
- Create a known-foods list. Sit down with your child and come up with a list of foods that the child likes and will eat. For example, “the fruits I will eat are apples, grapes, bananas, peaches, oranges and strawberries.” This is a great way to know what types of foods your child will eat at home and during school lunch. You could also turn it into a chart where your child receives a star or sticker each time he or she adds a new food to the list.
- Include your kid in the kitchen. Involving your child in the kitchen while preparing meals at home may encourage him or her to try a new food. For example, if your child has never eaten eggplant parmesan allow him or her to wash and cut the vegetable or help in other parts of meal preparation depending on his or her age and skill level.
For more information on feeding picky eaters visit http://www.eatright.org/kids/
Post by Allison Kakabar, Dietetic Intern