Figuring out what to feed your picky eater outside the home can be a challenge for parents of a picky eater. Should you carry your own snacks for your toddler? Will the restaurant make modifications to the recipe? These are some of the questions going on in the back of your mind.
6 tips for eating out with a picky eater at a restaurant
- Research the menu options before hand
Even before you head out research different restaurants and menu options available. Instead of relying on kiddie meals try and look for options on the regular menu that maybe accepted by your picky eater.
By only sticking to the kiddie menu which is usually highly processed foods like margerita pizza’s, fries, chicken nuggets you limit your child’s options and keep the picky eating circle going. Instead try to allow for the child to choose from options you would select and add in a few of his/her safe foods as a side.
- Eat at home before you leave
If picky eating is a big struggle in your household you can accommodate for your child by offering food at home before you leave. This way there is less trouble at the restaurant in case of unavailability of food for extremely picky eaters.
You can carry a box of crayons and some coloring books to keep your child busy as you enjoy your dinner.
- Involve your picky eater
A better option would be to involve your picky eater in making a choice. Offer a choice between 2 items on the menu that you know your child can enjoy. This way you give them control and involve the child in the occasion.
- Try experiential places
Try restaurants that offer an experience. Maybe one that lets you build a pizza or create your own sandwich. The children will love such an experience and also be willing to try new varieties and toppings when involved in the preparation.
Children will ‘do as you do, over do as you say’. So, be a good role model. Instead of focusing on how much your child is eating or not eating, set an example. They are observing you as you order food, the language you use to describe the foods on the table, any language that indicates to diet culture and so much more.
These early years will set the internal dialogue the child will develop as he/she grows.
Another trick that usually works with picky eaters is to watch other children their age eat. If his/her friend is trying a broccoli it is more likely your picky eater will give it a go too.
- Ask for modifications to the recipe
Instead of ordering from the kiddie meals which are mostly processed foods, try to offer children exposure to whole foods and meal preparations. Most restaurants are okay to modify the recipes to adjust for salt, sugar and spice preferences. Use this as an opportunity to create new exposures for children and develop their palate for diverse meals over the regular chicken nuggets and fries, type pf hyper processed meals.
I hope these tips will help you as you dine out with your picky eater and allow your child the experience of enjoying new foods and occasions with family.
What are some particular problems you face when eating out with a picky eater at a restaurant? Comment below and I will try my best to help you figure out a way to include your picky eater when eating out.