3 Tips for Packing Lunch for Picky Eaters

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Here are three simple lunch ideas for your child’s school 1) involve your child 2) make food fun 3) one step at a time.

PickyEaterBy Kayla Brown, Student Occupational Therapist, McMaster University

Brainstorming what to pack for your child’s lunch can be a tricky task, especially if he or she is a picky eater. Whether they are in daycare or 5th grade, kids do a lot of work and play during the school day, and a nutritious lunch can give them the fuel they need to help them succeed. But what do you do if your child regularly doesn’t eat the lunch you prepare for them? Below are a few tips and tricks to help you pack a lunch your fussy feeder will actually eat.

  1. Involve your child: If you left your child to their own devices, they might have chocolate pudding with a side of jellybeans for lunch every day!  However, if you work together, you can pack a lunch that makes both of you happy.  One option is to give your child a choice between two options you approve of; this way, they will feel like you have considered their ideas, and you can rest assured that they are getting the nutrition you want.
  2. Make food fun: Cookie cutters can be used to cut sandwiches into cool shapes.  Or, you can pack their veggies in a Tupperware container with their favorite television characters on it.  Appealing to their interests can help your youngster view lunchtime in a more positive light.
  3. One step at a time: If introducing a new food at lunch, or packing an item that isn’t a favorite, it is best to include it in small portions along with other foods you know they like. This way you know that even if they don’t eat the new food, they still have enough food to fuel their day.  Encourage them to try the new food, but let them know it’s ok if they don’t finish it. Change takes time and your child may require multiple exposures to a new food before they feel comfortable enough to give it a chance.

For tips and tricks that are individualized to your picky eater’s needs, consider contacting an occupational therapist. Canoe offers various feeding groups (Little Munchers currently offered and Monster Munchers in March) to help children make progress with foods.

Learn more about Canoe Therapy services.

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