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Help for parents' picky eaters

Today's digital tools can make mealtime easier for families.

DALLAS — Most of us parents have been there: a chaotic mealtime, all thanks to our kids and their picky eating habits. Maybe it's a meltdown over mac n' cheese, a problematic PB&J or fights over fruits and veggies. 

It seems parents love to complain about their child's ever-evolving palate as they try to put food on the table. 

How about leaning into apps for help? No, not appetizers. Rather, the plethora of digital tools that can help give weary parents better insight into ways to put together meals their kids will actually eat! And one of the best options might surprise you.

“The easiest place to start is Pinterest," says registered dietitian Whitney Stuart. "Pinterest is so visually oriented that you can have your children scroll through an iPad and look at some fun, different recipes that can add in some favorites that can be used as a whole family unit together.”

Stuart says the web is filled with tools that can help parents get creative with what they're cooking and minimize stress in the kitchen and around the dinner table. A chance, perhaps, to bring some sanity back to supper. 

She recommends apps like Paprika, Yummly, or PlateJoy

"I find that all of these sites are giving you easy recipes you can filter by ingredients, whether that's for allergens or preference," Stuart says. "It can help you pick out new palates, new cuisines. You have that image on board. You can change serving sizes, you can generate a grocery list. And it's a really great resource in general.”

Stuart says there are many options to choose from, in both your phone's app store or on the web. She say parents should try a few on for size to see what works best for their family. 

Regardless of which app works best, she says a key to remember is to reduce some of the pressure around trying new foods. Instead of forcing kids to eat their vegetables, introduce them in a way where they're part of a meal kids already enjoy. 

And be prepared that it might take many efforts before a kid likes a new food - if ever. Because as powerful as these digital tools have become, there's still one thing they can't do. 

“So unfortunately, there is no app that is going to get your child to eat their broccoli," she says. "But if we can focus on persistence with up to 11 to 14 exposures, which is what research shows us we need, we have a great opportunity that perhaps we wouldn't even need the app in the first place that our children eventually may develop a like ness of broccoli and maybe a love in the long run.”


For more of Whitney Stuart's insights, you can visit her website at whitnessnutrition.com 

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