Here are some tips on how to dealy with picky eating so you are less stressed about it

You probably landed here because you were looking for tips on how to get your picky eater to eat or how to handle their picky eating habits.

And I guess you have read tons of advice.

But this article will not be like that. Maybe I will throw in some things that work for us, but this is not an article on how to get your kid to eat.

No. This is an article about how to accept your child's eating habits and make it less stressful for you as their parent.

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It's tough to have a picky eater

I FEEL you. I have a picky eater. And yes, I have learned all the tips and tricks, the dos and don'ts of establishing healthy eating habits. And I am sure so have you.

And here is the thing: sometimes those tips work, and sometimes they don't work at all.

But at all times, I was left with anxiety about my child's eating habits.

So one day, I thought to myself...

I cannot observe my kid during every family meal.
I cannot stress all the time about what to cook.

Well, my kid's eating wouldn't change that easily. So something other had to change.

And that was my mindset on the whole topic.

For my sake, I had to work on making it less stressful for me.

Our story

I first introduced my baby to solid foods when she was 6 months old. I never thought about having problems with eating. I just thought she would naturally start to eat—end of story.

Until she did not. She was not interested ONE BIT(E).

I tried again one month later.

NOPE. She would maybe eat one or two little spoons, but that was it.

This was when my anxiety around food started. So we then tried BLW (Baby Led Weaning). Because honestly, I was done constantly making purees the baby wouldn't touch.

But BLW didn't bring much success either. Even when she was 10 months, she had only very little interest in food. Maybe she would snack here and there, half a banana or some raspberries. But we never had a real full meal.

I produced a lot of breastmilk, which seemed enough for her. She was healthy and gaining weight.

When she was 1, she would still prefer the breast over food. Only at that point it drove me crazy. So at her check-up, I asked my pediatrician again for advice (we've already had one appointment because of her eating behavior before).

She just told me as long as she is healthy and gaining weight, I should not stress. If she is eating some fruits and veggies, then it's fine. Just continue to offer a wide variety of healthy food.

Easier said than done. But I was still annoyed about her not eating even though she got a little bit better.

But to this day, she is a picky eater. Most meals I prep, she doesn't even want to try. She eats fruits and some veggies, but mostly only raw. She doesn't like salads or meals with lots of different foods in them.

I can tell you it's still tough sometimes. But I have lowered my expectations and my anxiety. It was much harder for me the first two years (now she is 4).

But, today, I am more like meh...

So I want to share with you what helped me reduce my anxiety when it comes to my picky eater.

Don't ask other people for advice

Having a picky eater is hard. And only parents of a picky eater will know. All the other parents, I am sorry to say, they don't have a clue.

It's so hard if your child is not eating. You don't know what to cook. You are afraid your kid is not getting enough nutrients. When you go out to eat, you immediately think about what your child will eat. You are invited somewhere, but all you can think about is if your child will eat anything there.

It's freaking tough. And only you know. Well, and me.

Yet, advice from others will keep coming in.

"Just continue offering new food."
"Don't let them watch tv while eating."
"Don't offer too many food choices."
"Cut back on sweets, or it will ruin their taste buds."

The list is long.

But if I can tell you one thing, then it's that a parent of a picky eater has tried IT ALL. They have tried all the advice given about picky eating starting from the creation of humans to this day.

So the best thing you can do is to avoid and ignore unsolicited advice. Because the truth is it's annoying. So skip the advice. You already know everything about picky eating. This will help big time with your anxiety.

Don't talk about your child's eating behavior with anyone. And you will be spared a lot of advice from people who shouldn't give it.

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Stop talking about it in general

The more we talk about something, the more it constitutes your reality.

For example, if we always talk and think about our kid's tantrums, the more we notice them and the more we focus on them even though our kid may have a normal about of tantrums for their age.

The same goes for food.

The more we think and talk about our kids as picky eaters, the more we will focus on their eating, and the more we will believe that they are picky eaters and that they eat ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (even though we know that's not true).

"She is not eating anything", said the mother of her 4 year old girl, who was running a half marathon in the living room.

I mean, how often have I thought to myself (or even said out loud), "She doesn't eat anything!"? But it's not true. Obviously, she is eating because she is still here, healthy and alive.

So, one of the best things you can do to reduce your anxiety is to stop talking about your child's picky eating.

Keep things in perspective

How many adults do you personally know who are picky eaters? I don't know anyone who has a picky behavior when it comes to food. Yes, everyone has their favorite food and food they don't like. But do you really know anyone who eats like a kid who is a picky eater?

The older they get, the more interested they will be in different kinds of foods. They will probably also be more willing to try out different stuff.

And I will tell that to myself over and over again. I actually like to think of it as a phase. The picky eating phase.

Think of it as a phase. A picky eating phase. A long picky eating phase.

I mean, haven't phases always helped us get through the tough times?

It's just a phase....

And remember, even as adults, they don't have to like everything.

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Kids are picky eaters in general

Maybe you have read about some possible (terrifying) underlying causes of picky eating. But most chances, your kid is just being a kid.

Our pediatrician told me that most kids are picky eaters and that eating a large variety of food is not normal for kids.

Yes, some are more extreme (like mine), but most children do not like the whole spectrum of food.

So remember it is a normal thing that kids are picky about food, only like specific foods, or are hesitant to try out unfamiliar food.

It is normal kid behavior.

Concentrate on the good things they eat

Whenever my kid eats a raw carrot, I will hold on to that carrot for all eternity.

Raw and plant-based. Is there anything better than that? I have tried to live like that and failed a million times.

No, seriously. Concentrate on all the good things your child is eating.

Are they only eating 3 different veggies? That's ok! These will bring a lot of nutrients already.

Do they only like certain fruit? That's ok, too.

My pediatrician always says if they eat 3-4 different veggies and fruit, they have covered a lot already.

Yes, it's ok to make a game out of eating

My pediatrician asked me once:

"How bad is it if we really make a game out of eating?"

And it kept me thinking...

Why not cut out stars from fruits and veggies with a cookie cutter? If it motivates your child to try different food, then do it.

It's not spoiling them or making it too easy for them. I mean, you probably won't cut out stars when they 15.

Why not let your kid play a bit with their food? So the carrot and the tomato talk to each other. Why does that need to bother us so much?

I am not saying your kid should use their food as toys, but if it encourages them to explore and try out new foods, is it really that bad?

I feel like there are so many rules when it comes to eating.

They are still kids who are still so easily amazed by a cucumber that looks like a flower. So why not make eating more fun as long as it's possible?

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Anxiety is getting us nowhere

Let's be real. There is this enormous pressure on parents to offer the right nutritious food. Of course, it's very important to guarantee a healthy diet.

And if then your little one does not eat as you expected, it can be really stressful for parents.

But the thing is, kids always pick up on stress. So when we obsess about our child's eating behavior, they will pick up on the pressure. And then the table will only become a bigger battleground.

Our reaction and how we handle this situation will impact their eating habits the most.

You cannot control what they do

Here is one thing you always need to remember as a parent, and this is actually my number one advice for parents:

You can do your best for your children, but you cannot control them. It is out of your hands. You only can control your behavior and reaction. You can encourage them to eat, but you cannot force it. Ultimately it will be their decision to eat or not eat. Why stress about something you cannot control anyway?

You can cry, laugh or be angry about it. But whether your child eats their meal or not is ultimately out of your hands.

Eating is supposed to be fun and a happy, healthy experience. You can still try and encourage your kid to eat without getting stressed.