How to Handle Picky Eaters

By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by David Goehring via Flickr
Original Image by David Goehring via Flickr

What’s one food that as much as you know it’s good for you, you just can’t keep it down?  As one ages, it’s natural for taste buds and preferences to evolve, but did you ever have a limited palette that only liked pizza, chicken nuggets and ice cream?  Sound familiar?

I know for a lot of parents, they have the challenge of juggling all the activities of active children, but making sure the meals are nutritious and diverse enough to consue the necessary nutrients to grow up healthy and strong.

For me, I remember there was a time that I would separate the onions, peppers and mushrooms from any dish my mother made.  It wasn’t because I didn’t like the taste, but because I couldn’t get past what they look like.  Don’t worry, I’ve gotten better. I can’t imagine a Philly cheesesteak without mushrooms and onions.  Thank goodness I’ve diversified my palette because I’ve had a lot of great dishes now that I’ve broaden my taste buds.

Are you running out of ideas of what to do with your picky eater? Like all good things, it may take a few times for your child to latch onto new foods.  Actually, it’s been shown that children may need as many as 20 exposures to a new food before starting to like the new food and incorporating it into everyday meals.


Original Image by baron valium via Flickr
Original Image by baron valium via Flickr
  • As much as possible, serve meals at the same time daily
  • Start slow, a couple bites is a great first step! Gradually eating more is great!
  • Remember favorites!  If child likes a specific sauce, make sure it’s on the table
  • Design the plate! We eat with our eyes, make it as appealing as possible, using fun shapes and cutters
  • Start a food log—listing all likes and dislikes can help uncover a health condition if there is  one
  • Bring child grocery shopping with you—have them pick out healthy foods they want to eat
  • Bring child into kitchen, have them help prepare meals
  • Think outside of the box—be creative, patient and nurturing during the process
  • Incorporate new foods into meals slowly, in small amounts
  • Work with the foods your child already loves and broaden their horizon from  there
  •  Use variety of fruits—which children gravitate to already
  • Play with texture—puree, make a smoothie, add gravy, add bread
  • Allow child to eat with hands, which makes them more comfortable
  • Limit bribery or punishment—such as “If you eat your vegetables you can have ice cream” or “no carrots, no TV”
  •  Don’t force the child to eat—keep portions in mind and respect if they say they’re not hungry
  • Be a role model and show your desire to eat healthy foods as well
  • Limit electronics during meals—such as TV, music and phone
  • Talk with physician about any possible allergies and/or medical conditions

Check out these kid friendly recipes that are sure to make your kids take a second glance at tonight’s meal. As stated before, it may take time, but incorporating some of these suggestions into one’s everyday routine is sure to bring some encouraging results!  Best of luck!


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