I'm no stranger to picky eaters. My oldest used to make me pull my hair out at each meal because he would sit there with the same bite of food in his mouth for 10 minutes at a time, never swallowing. He was afraid of anything green. If the meat wasn't a nugget, he wasn't interested. My youngest was slightly less picky, but had an obsession with hot dogs and anything chocolate.
My how things have changed :)
We've always served them a wide variety of food and not really "allowed" them to be picky. Still, mealtime was often a battle. One that I was determined to win. We don't make them a different meal if they don't like what I'm making. When they were smaller, it was harder to actually describe the importance of eating good. It was on their plate, it was offered to them...and sometimes they ate it, sometimes they didn't. I worried sooo often that they weren't getting adequate nutrition because they either ate just a few bites here & there or would only eat things that were less-than-healthy.
Now that they are older (5 and 3 1/2) they are not only a lot less picky, but they are awesome eaters and always up for trying new things. If you only every offer your kids chicken nuggets or mac n cheese...of course they are going to throw a fit when you put salmon & brown rice on their plate. Make it fun! Let them know what each food does for their body. Almost every night at dinner, we talk about what we're eating. They know that fish makes their brain think better and helps them learn more when their at school. They know that carrots make their eyes sparkle. They know that eating fiber is good for your tummy and makes you feel full longer than eating junk food. Educate yourself, so you can educate your kids! They soak up SO much and I know mine both love learning about different foods.
It might take a couple of weeks to get them into the habit of eating healthier. Can you blame them? If they are used to junk food- well, junk food tastes good! Make sure they get the chance to discover that eating healthy can be just as yummy. If they know that they either eat whats on their plate, or they will be hungry...they'll get the point that you're making that YOU are in charge and they need to eat whats served so they aren't hungry afterwards.
A short little story- when I was subbing in Austin's kindergarten class week, I had packed a tupperware of blackberries and kiwi to eat out at recess as my snack. I was standing at the table with all the kids who were eating their snacks (hot cheetos, powdered donuts, chocolate chip cookies, fruit roll ups and poptarts, just to name a few!). They saw me eating my fruit and I am not kidding you- at least 6 little 5 year olds asked me for a bite (and no, I didn't share haha). They were 100% willing (and excited!) to eat fruit for a snack instead of the non-nutritious junk their parents had packed. Some of them had never even seen or heard of a kiwi before! Expand their little horizons people- start early and they will learn to love being a good eater!
Tomorrow I'll put up a list of healthy snacks & meal ideas that kids (well, mine at least) love. I found a couple cool links on pinterest that I'll put up as well.