If you are the parent of a picky eater, then you already know what kind of challenge it can be, as some studies show that a large percentage of children do not get the nutrients they require; however, picky eaters may be at even more of a risk. For example, if your fussy eater skips lunch, the lack of nutrients and carbs may negatively affect their performance in class. If you are feeding a fussy eater, there are a few steps you can take to create a packed lunch that should entice the pickiest of palettes.
1. Involve Your Child
Packing a healthy school lunch will not be much of an asset to your child if he or she throws it away at lunchtime because they are unpleasantly surprised by what they find within. You can prevent this by involving your child from the start when it comes to packing his or her school lunch. Take them shopping and let them choose one or two healthy food items that are simple to pack, such as fresh fruit or a juice pouch that contains 100 percent juice and no added sugar, to encourage them to open their lunch every day.
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2. Shape Your Child’s Nutrition
If you are dealing with a younger fussy eater, then making his or her school lunches more visually appealing may spark their desire to eat. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of whole-grain bread, fruit, and cheese. You can find inspiration on creative websites like Pinterest or come up with your own original ideas. Add an educational element by adding shapes such as stars, circles, and triangles for kinder-aged children and make a connection between what they are learning and what they are eating.
3. Create a Menu
Once you find foods your fussy eater will accept, you may be tempted to pack it in your child’s lunch box on a daily basis. However, this might cause them to grow tired of it and you will find yourself back to square one by the start of the next week. If you want to prevent this, create a weekly menu of lunch selections that you know your child enjoys and then mix and match them daily. For example, if your child enjoys peanut butter, offer it with apple slices one day and spread on celery sticks the next.
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4. Amp Up Colors
Packing your fussy eater’s lunch with a variety of colorful foods may make them more interested in eating. After all, a bland-looking sandwich and a carton of milk would probably bore you at lunchtime as well, so consider adding a wide array of colorful fruits and veggies such as raspberries, strawberries, halved cherry tomatoes, orange slices, and carrot sticks. This rainbow of nutrition is much more likely to catch your child’s eye than a simple sandwich would, and there many colorful foods that are ready for packing right out of the container.
It can be a challenge to ensure that your picky eater gets a nutritious afternoon meal when you cannot be there. Over time, skipping lunch may even cause children to perform poorly on tests that impact whether they advance to the next grade. However, employing these tips may boost your child’s appetite and provide them with the nutrients they need to do their best at school, whether they are hard at work or play.
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