Tips & Recipes to Make Picky Eater Kids Become Vegan
This selective eating problem has taken its toll on most parents and we don’t want this to become a major concern and a parental-anxiety factor in the future. Having your kids follow a plant-based diet can be challenging. In this article, I have shared easy steps on how to make your picky eater kids become vegan or eat healthy (at least). It will still be difficult later on, so the best thing you can do now is to start.
This article also dwells on the factors why kids tend to become picky eaters and tips on how to help them become otherwise. I have also collected kid-friendly vegan recipes and plant-based food items that are best to start for picky eaters, making way for them to become vegan.
Why Do Kids Become Picky Eaters?
Generally, most picky eaters are not born that way. Primary factors causing this feeding problem happen in early childhood like:
- Forceful Feeding. Parents or caregivers forcing children to eat without considering physiological factors may lead children to become used to refusing meals even if they previously like them. Children as they grow, undergo a stage where their appetite decreases. This occurs between one to 5 years old. Parents should know this fact so that if their child refuses to eat because of this factor, they can let them eat what they want or just let them be (for the time being), hence, your child won’t feel compelled to or pressured to eat.
- Excessive Consumption of Beverages. Milk, fruit juices, yogurt juices or chocolate drinks and the likes are good for kids when consumed in moderation. While milk is still important for kids in their younger years, excessive milk intake leads to the feeling of being full, thus, slowing down the desire of the child to eat proper meals.
- Cognitive Growth. As toddlers grow, they struggle to develop a sense of autonomy and prefer self-feeding. If pressured to eat properly, they may resist and will choose to do so, over time.
- Imitation. Children for a fact like to copy what the people around them do. If you want your child to be a healthy eater, you must show them that you also are.
- Children being neophobic. Children in their younger stage tend to become neophobic and dislike trying new food. Try to understand this stage and let them gradually eat healthy meals.
Easy Steps to Help Parents of Picky-Eater Kids
The rising number of picky eaters has now become a pressing concern to most parents nowadays. I too have a fair share of this kind of battle: I have a nephew who barely eats anything—his milk makes him survive in a day. Based on personal experience and thorough research, my principle toward helping parents to overcome their kids’ feeding problems is to: understand, educate and be a role model.
- Learn and understand.
Try to learn the basic stage every toddler goes through. Understand that not all the time, your child wants to eat. There will be phases of their lives when their appetite decreases thus, taking note of this helps you determine when is the best time to introduce new food and any adjustments you can think of.
- Begin with what they want to eat.
As a parent, you must probably know what your child usually eats. If he likes pancakes, for example, try making one in a vegan way. You can add in oatmeal first then gradually add banana the second time. Mix them using a blender so he wouldn’t notice any difference in texture.
- Make a list of vegetables or plant-based foods they already like.
If they previously like squash, for example, add them up to your list. You can also think of some vegetables that have similar texture and taste to squash such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, gourds, and pumpkins. This is just a list by the way. You can add as many as you can and just remove a few as you go along the process.
You can also add frozen or ready-made vegan foods available in the groceries such as Vegan Chicken Tenders, Vegan Cookies, Vegan Chips for snacks and a lot more.
- Try the “Tiny Tastes” Strategy.
This “tiny taste” approach was developed in UK research which suggested that children may need to try a new vegetable 10 times before they begin to like it. This recommends you to let your children start by trying a tiny piece of a veggie, not just once, but multiple times until they start enjoying it. Then gradually increase the amount and frequency of that vegetable as you go along the process.
- Eat with them—they learn best from what they see.
Make eating time, a family time. Take this opportunity to educate your children on the life-long benefits of eating plant-based meals. This is also a great chance for you to show them that you eat healthy meals as you want them to. About 80% of children are said to be visual learners, according to some studies. Thus, showing them what to eat and educating them on why, are the best combination to help you deal with your picky-eater squirt.
- Give extra time to bond with them.
Doing basically everything together develops a special bond between you and them which is a great opportunity for you to set a friendly authoritative tone over your kids—making them follow what you ask them to, including eating healthy meals.
- Make their efforts count.
Get them into the kitchen and let them help you prepare their food. This might take much of your time and patience but everything will be worth it—just give it time. Let them help you by planning their meals of the week, cooking and setting their food on the table. This heightens their sense of pride and ownership and works wonders to eat something out of their best efforts.
Help them develop their sense of autonomy by letting them get their hands into their food, going to their mouth. I see this entertaining for children starting from 8 months old and onwards. They will enjoy their food this way while making the vegan meal unnoticed.
Kid-Friendly Vegan Recipes and Food Items You Can Try
There’s an insight from a pediatrician I know, that I’d like to share. She said, if you’re a mom of a picky eater, you can try to change his milk, or become a chef yourself.
Start exploring and inventing meals that will look delicious for your child by trying these simple online vegan recipes and food items:
Burgers can be the best bait for your kids but make the burger patty out of plant-based ingredients: chia seeds, tofu, ground black beans, oat flour and spices. This is best for meat eaters and tastes really good with your favorite sauce, not to mention the protein content of this delightful dish.
This can be a meal itself or a snack. All you need is to use the star of this recipe, butternut squash, elbow macaroni, oil and seasoning and voila—you have an all-vegan pasta you and your kid will enjoy.
If you’re looking for a cheap and easy-to-make vegan meal, this vegan fried rice is the best option for you. Just mix in your leftover brown rice with approved veggies by your kid in a small amount of water, instead of oil. Add soy sauce and herbs to give it extra flavor.
A delicious vegan option for a snack or dinner when coupled with side dishes. Best served with a sauce that tastes like chicken and can satisfy your child. You can purchase them online or here:
- Vegan Cookies and Chips
A low-carb and low-sugar kind of cookie your child will surely love:
And a plant-based chips with sour-cream flavor that’s common among ordinary snacks nowadays:
Changing to become fully vegan is quite difficult, how much more will it be for kids? This article is made to make parents’ lives less difficult by making their children eat healthy foods. As mentioned, my principle toward this issue is to understand, educate and be a role model. Just let your children know that you’re all in this together—still, communication is the key.
Additionally, knowing what causes this problem can have a huge impact on parents. As they say, a well-defined problem is a problem half-solved!