Picky eaters are nothing new to parents; it seems like every child goes through a phase where they refuse to eat a certain food. So how do we respond when our kid won’t eat something and seems to be missing a major food group? Here are some substitutes that can be used if needed:
If your child won’t eat fresh fruit, try dried fruit mixed in with granola or yogurt or on cereal. You could also “hide” the fruit by turning it into a smoothie with yogurt, milk, and some ice (smoothies are also great for sneaking spinach into your kids’ diet since the flavor is masked by the stronger tasting fruit and yogurt). If your child is refusing citrus fruits, try other foods also high in Vitamin C (watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and peas).
If your child won’t eat meat, try fish (salmon especially), eggs, tofu, beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, or peanut butter to make sure they are getting protein. Many nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, or pistachios, are also high in protein. For iron substitutes, you can find breads, crackers, and pastas made with iron-enriched flour, or dark green, leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach).
If you can’t get your child to drink milk, try cheese, yogurt, and other dairy foods made with cow/sheep/goat milk. If they are lactose intolerant, there are many dairy-alternative milks (soy, almond, etc.) you can try. For calcium and vitamin D, try fish canned with their bones (e.g. salmon), dark leafy greens (spinach, bok choy, broccoli, etc.), some beans and nuts. Sunlight is also a natural source of vitamin D.
Most kids have at least one vegetable or group of vegetables they don’t like. If your child won’t eat green, leafy vegetables, try dark yellow and orange vegetables for vitamin A and folic acid. If your child won’t eat cooked vegetables, try raw vegetables dipped in hummus, or a vegetable salad (e.g. cucumbers and tomatoes with a healthy dressing). Also look for recipes where you can add vegetables in where the taste or texture may be hidden from a picky eater.
As always, if you have any questions or want more information, please contact either office and we will be happy to help you!
Information compiled from articles from American Academy of Pediatrics