Kids and Food: How to Turn Picky Eaters Around, and Save Money in the Process

by Ashley Eneriz · 1 comment

healthy breakfast
I wouldn’t call my daughter a picky eater exactly. She has always been great about eating fruits and vegetables, but it was always on her terms. She would rather just play than actually sit and eat. What’s worst, she used her hunger as a bedtime stalling tactic many times in the past. Her eating preferences resulted in a lot of wasted food, time, and money over the past few years. Thankfully a few adjustments to our rules helped transform meal time and ultimately saved us money, so let me share those with you.

Limit Snacks

When I first read, Karen Le Billon’s “French Kids Eat Everything,” I disagreed wholeheartedly with the “no snacking” rule. It seemed impossible since my slim preschooler snacked all day. Slowly, though, I stopped buying certain snacks, which led to less snack-wanting. I then noticed that the less she snacked, the better she ate at each meal. Obviously, I am still a human, and snacks still find their way into some days. However, when I make the conscious effort to eliminate snacks and enjoy each sit-down meal with her, I am amazed by how much food she eats.

Water Only

I never understood the purpose of giving kids juice. Not only can daily juice eat up your grocery budget, but what benefits does it really have for the kids? When I give my daughter even the better quality juices that are supposedly stuffed with vitamins and vegetables, it still leads to a few issues. First, since she drinks it quicker than she would drinks water, we must be near a bathroom for the next hour. Second, she is prone to having more meltdowns and tantrums from the sugar (even natural sugar should be consumed in moderation). Finally, she will fill up on juice and not eat anything else, resulting in a messed up eating schedule. Let’s not forget that regular consumption of juice can increase your child’s risk of dental problems too. Thankfully, this problem is easily avoidable for us, since we do not keep juice in the house.

Figure Out Where Discipline Needs to Start

I never want to cause my children any long-lasting issues with food. I am sure we have all heard horror stories or even have our own from parents being too harsh at dinnertime. However, there needs to be a happy balance. Obviously, it is not wise to let your kids eat whatever they want. Once my daughter reached the age of two, it became a rule that she had to take one bite of something new. She also learned that once dinner is over, the kitchen is closed until morning. Getting to these points was a long and tiring battle. We had to try many different tactics until we found what worked for our family.

But What If I Am Worried About My Child’s Weight?

If you are worried about cutting out snacking or disciplining your picky eater because they are skinny, then talk it over with their doctor. Every family needs to find what works for them. My daughter was always in the 5-10 percentile for weight for her age. I use to be anxious about it and let her eat unlimited amounts of goldfish and crackers so she would at least eat something. But then I realized I wasn’t helping the problem. How were goldfish and crackers going to help my daughter become healthy and overcome eating issues? Was I going to rely on snacks every time we ate dinner as a family? Overcoming your child’s picky eating and bad eating habits will not happen overnight, and you may need to endure many tantrums and bad attitudes to set firmer eating rules. The good news, though, is that once you start to see improvement, it brings a new level of positivity to the family. It will help you save money because you don’t have to buy snacks, waste food, or make multiple meals.

What have you done to turn your picky eater around? Did you notice money saving benefits from it?

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  • Sean Collins says:

    Soft drinks and junk foods are a no-no in our family. Now, I’m thinking of pulling out those sweet cookies and cakes too. Thanks for the great article!

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