I try very hard to make sure that I provide my children with balanced meals, but getting them to eat what I serve is another (more difficult) challenge entirely. Bettina will eat nearly anything - if her sister eats it. Therein lies the challenge because Odelia is picky. Although as a baby she would eat anything, she now tries to limit herself to something like cereal, tortilla chips, crackers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, apples, and blueberries. If she is feeling particularly adventurous, she may opt for a few nibbles of carrot.
I have tried everything I can think of to improve her diet. I have read books, asked experts, begged, cajoled, punished, tricked (tried to anyway), taught.... You get the picture. So far, nothing has worked. The most effective method has been taking her shopping and asking her to pick things out, but even this has had a pretty low success rate. (That may be due to the fact that I ask her to pick produce, not packaged food, which I am sure she would jump at!)
Recently, I decided that Odelia may eat better if she was clearly accountable for what was purchased and served. In the past, my saying something about her refusing to eat the food she had chosen was less than effective - I think she just heard nagging. To fix this, I decided to try to help her make (and remember) her choices visually. With this in mind, I made her a shopping list with nothing but splotches of color. At the market, as she chose a fruit or vegetable for every color of the rainbow, I wrote it in the space next to the color. Now my kitchen is stocked with her food choices. If I hear complaints about there being nothing to eat, I can say something like, "I see here that for orange and green you chose mangos and kiwi. Have you had either of those today?"
While I can't claim a 100% success rate, this is by far the most effective thing that I have tried. If she begins to complain, I show her the paper. If she sees it, she knows she chose it. A few times I have heard that she chose something but now does not like it. I simply reply that she needs to eat it, but that she can always choose something different next time.
My shopping list printable has been so useful for us that I am putting it here for you too!
Don't feel that this printable is to be used only with picky eaters, it is an excellent tool to have when teaching children how to make healthy choices. Children really do need to eat a rainbow; show them how and tell them why.
Tell them that:
Red fruits and vegetables give you a terrific ticker and brawny brain cells.
Orange fruits and vegetables give you supple skin, almost-x-ray vision, and lots of "Bam Bams" (immune power).
Yellow fruits and vegetables offer much of the same benefits as orange but with an extra dose of vitamin C and some extra cancer-kicking power.Green fruits and vegetables are the kings of the mountain! They do almost everything and help to keep your body healthy and strong.
Blue fruits and vegetables ice inflammation.
Indigo fruits and vegetables are possibly the most potent bad-battling things you can eat - kind of like eating action-heroes.Violet fruits and vegetables can help keep you in super shape. (They are usually lower sugar and can decrease bodily fat storage.)
Outside of the rainbow but on my shopping list printable,
The animal print represents a protein foodAnd the rainbow represents a special treat.
(These are also parts of a balanced diet.)
If you try my Eat a Rainbow Shopping List Printable, please drop me a line and let me know how it works for you. Also, if your children have overcome excessively picky eating habits, please let me now how you did it!