Smythe said one of the best ways to begin the process is by offering choice to children. For example, a parent could ask in advance in their child wants carrots or broccoli, or both. In addition, another way to make the entire plate more appealing is to serve at least one food the child likes as part of the meal.
Foods that taste or smell good can also help a child respond to a meal. Smythe showed examples of strawberries dipped in melted chocolate as one way to introduce fruits and vegetables into a meal. She also said young children also may respond to foods that are shaped or presented in a fun way. One example she showed was a hard boiled egg with a pretzel stick stuck in it, with a sliced piece of cheese attached to look like a sail.
Smythe said it is important for parents to be good role models by eating the foods they want their children to consume. In addition, she said eating as a family will reduce distractions for children. It may also be helpful to encourage the child to be involved in the shopping and the kitchen preparations.
Smythe said parents shouldn't expect to change their children's picky habits overnight. She added, no matter how difficult the process may seem, don't give up!