Hey Mom and Dad, How Do You Convince Picky Kids to Eat Healthy Meals?

Parents, Patch wants to hear from you on the questions that get families talking.

Welcome to "Hey, Mom and Dad"—a weekly feature in which we ask our Facebook fans to share their views on parenting. Every week, we get the conversation started by taking a look back at a question we asked parents the week before on Patch Facebook pages from around the area.

Many families have resolved to try to eat better in the new year. However, this can often be easier said than done, with picky kids prone to pushing vegetables around on their plate and each dinner turning into a battle of willpower between you and your child. That brings us to this week's question.

How do you deal with kids who are picky eaters and just don't want to follow the program?

Take a look at what people had to say and join the conversation in the comments section.

Eddie Komrska: I'll let you know after I grill salmon tonight how it goes  2 of the 3 are excited the other said he's going to die — Downers Grove Patch Facebook

Don Kirchenberg: When I was a kid (and I can barely remember because it was so long ago) if there were carrots to eat you ate the carrots. Now I would not eat the liver and onions (still don't) and I got something else for dinner. But why not make the kids eat what is offered? Maybe that is too tough and the new thinking has made that a bad idea but it seemed to work for us. — Downers Grove Patch Facebook

Matt Baron: Start early with a wide spectrum of foods....and, of course, I've become more adventurous and open-minded as a "role model." So it helps to walk the walk (or chew the chew, I suppose). — Oak Park Patch Facebook

Anthony Joseph: I got my kid to eat fruits n veggies by buying a juicer and having them help me prep it and push it thru the hopper....I made it a fun thing...she ate the fruits n veggies when prepping and drank the juice combos we made when done. Got to the point where she wanted to make juice all the time...a bit demanding but hey, my kid loves fruits AND veggies! — Oak Park Patch Facebook

Teri Kate: I'm not a diner. If they don't like meal they will be hungry  But with that being said, I did have my 12 year old join me at the grocery store and gave her options of healthier foods to pick from. I was surprised and some of her choices, things that I never though she would like? — La Grange Patch Facebook

Erika Petzold Larson: In our house, eating and trying new things are not negotiable. Start young, be consistent (and remember you're the parent). Kids are expected to try everything on their plate and house rule is age = number of bites. So, the four year old has to eat four bites of each thing on the plate. It has worked very well for us, but consistency is key. — Darien Patch Facebook

Cathy Fischer: Our kids always have to have a small "no thank you" helping on their plate. As long as they had that, they can eat something different as well. I never ever liked fish foods and I completely stay away from ALL sea food because I was forced to eat it as a child when my parents made it. I was not allowed dessert if I didn't eat, so I missed plenty of desserts, LOL. If my kids still don't like it after the no thank you helping, the next time they could pass. My kids have had no thank you helpings of seafood and other foods they thought they wouldn't like and now they like some of it. OK if they don't. As an adult, I'm a very picky eater now..My kids have tried and liked more things than I ever could imagine and I feel it's because they're not forced to eat things I know they won't/don't like. I don't eat things I hate, so why should it be different for kids? Trust me, after they've tried it, they know if they like it or not. As long as they eat something healthy, let them enjoy foods they like as well. — Darien Patch Facebook

Wendy Johnson Filip: Our daughter always had to eat what we ate. We didn't make anything special for her. She had to at least try things. If she didn't finish her food, that was fine - but she didn't get anything else. I've always felt kids should learn to eat what their parents eat. Parents that often make something separate/different for their kids just because they don't want to try something new - raise picky eaters. — Woodridge Patch Facebook

So what's your take? Tell us in the comments. 

Anne Schwartz January 08, 2013 at 03:04 PM
When I'm babysitting my grandson, 31/2, all I have to do is talk like Optimus Prime and he'll eat everything I put on his plate. E.g. "EAT YOUR CARROTS" .!!!
Matthew Hendrickson January 08, 2013 at 06:15 PM
A commenter on the Oak Park Patch Facebook page left this bit of parenting wisdom: "I don't pressure him too hard to try something new, but make a big deal about how delicious something is, then he'll become curious enough to ask questions, try it and find that he likes it."
Allison Bos January 08, 2013 at 06:27 PM
I was the pickiest eater you could imagine as a kid. Practically nothing worked to convince me to eat once I had stubbornly convinced myself I didn't want to try it (because I somehow knew I already didn't like it) One of the few things that did work was adding some low-sugar chocolate syrup to my milk in order to get me to drink milk. I'm happy to say I'm a more adventurous eater, not happy to admit I'm dreading the possibility of my child being the same way with food.
Joe Jocewicz January 11, 2013 at 02:12 PM
How about the old fashioned way? If they don't eat what's put in front of them, they get nothing until the next meal. Then watch them gobble up what's in front of them. Teach them to respect the food and the preparer of the meal. As a child, I was not given a choice but to eat what was in front of me whether I liked it or not. I wasn't a fan of that rule then but I'm glad my parents had it. I will try anything and eat everything now.


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