My house is full of picky eaters. My husband earns the title as pickiest eater in the family — and the pickiest eater I know. We both want to eat healthier, but our “go to” meals that he’ll actually eat aren’t exactly good for the waistline. In an attempt to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, I took a critical look at what we’re eating and how I can gently nudge my picky husband into eating a healthier and more varied diet.
Find Your Baseline
What are you eating now? Make a list of all the regular foods that make it into your meal rotation. Our list included foods such as chicken tacos, pasta, pizza, grilled chicken, grilled cheese and chicken soup. We only ate meat two or three times per week. Review your list and mark the meals you’re already eating that are healthy. We’ll keep grilled chicken and chicken soup.
Clean Up Favorites
The remaining meals on your list may not be the healthiest, but don’t give up on them yet. You know your picky eater likes them so you may still be able to salvage the less-than-healthy vittles. Simple changes often make a dish lower in calories and fat. Try these ideas for making your favorites healthier:
- Use low-fat versions of things like sour cream and cream cheese. I don’t notice much difference between full-fat and low-fat, but non-fat dairy products are sometimes a different consistency that can affect the recipe.
- Reduce how much meat you put in recipes or the serving size of meat. If the recipe needs the bulk, use veggies instead.
- Swap out the type of meat you use. Instead of ground beef, use ground turkey. If you can’t give up the beef, use a leaner type.
- Add more vegetables than the recipe specifies.
Introduce New Dishes
Your picky eater probably won’t willingly ditch all of the old favorites in favor of super healthy meals, but you can gradually work healthier dishes into the rotation. Even my picky husband has expanded what he’ll eat lately. Start with healthy side dishes so he still has a main dish he likes, but don’t fall into the bland veggie trap. Instead of steamed carrots, roast them in the oven with a little olive oil. Add low-fat stir fry sauce to green beans.
Once your picky eater gets used to seeing new dishes on the menu, try some new, healthier main dishes. On those nights, serve sides that you know he likes so he has something he likes, even if the new main dish isn’t a hit.
Cooking for a picky eater isn’t easy, especially if you like lots of different foods. With a little patience and some small changes, you can get your picky eater to expand his food preferences and get him to eat healthier.