Winning over your picky eater is no easy task, but (in most cases) it can be done! Following is a list of tactics to hopefully convince your child that “real food” is good stuff. Also, don’t forget that it can take time for one’s palette to adjust to new tastes so if you experience some failed attempts at first don’t be discouraged!
1. Start by switching out the refined and processed ingredients in meals they love for healthier ones. Some recipes to consider: Whole-Wheat Macaroni and Cheese, Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Whole-Wheat Pizza and Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes (pictured).
2. Give your child a good first impression of the real food you want them to try even if it means deep frying sweet potatoes to make French fries, making sweet zucchini bread, or coating fish in almonds and topping it with a butter sauce. Once your child thinks they like “fish” you’ll have a better chance of getting them to eat it next time (even if you cook it differently).
3. If you like to hide veggies in your kid’s food please tell them about it while they are eating it (if you’re brave enough) or at least tell them afterward. They need to know the hidden ingredient isn’t so horrifying after all. Plus if when they turn 18 they still think they’ve never eaten broccoli, because it’s always been hidden it in their food, where is that going to get you?
4. Bribe them to eat real food with other real food. Most parents already know how to bribe on occasion, but remember it does not always have to be about sweets and junk food. For example, my 4-year-old daughter absolutely loves cheese sticks and will do just about anything for one…including eating a bite of her veggies!
5. Let them pick out their own fruits and vegetables at the store or farmers’ market. Better yet, let them help you grow some produce in a few pots or in a small garden in your very own backyard. Now is the perfect time to start planting for fall, and it would be very little effort and a lot of reward to plant some carrot seeds together in a little pot on your deck.
6. Get them involved in picking out dinner or breakfast recipes and helping you cook the meal. Even kids as young as one or two are great at stirring. I’ve started letting my 6-year-old flip pancakes on the griddle (with close supervision) and she feels like she is the “queen of the castle” when she’s cooking for the whole family! Most kids will at least have a taste if they helped to make the meal.
7. Make a strict “one-bite rule” that they have to at least try a food and remind them that it won’t hurt them if it tastes bad. This goes for each meal. Also allow them to wash it down with their drink as opposed to spitting it out. You may only win them over 1 out of 10 times, but that one time makes it so worth it!
8. Do not pressure or upset your kids too much over trying a new food. There is a sweet spot somewhere between not giving up easily and not pushing them too hard. This is why I like our “one bite rule” because it is no surprise when I ask my kids to try at least one bite of something new. You don’t want them to have any negative feelings toward food or mealtime. You should know pretty quickly when you’ve started taking things too far.
9. If your child is especially resistant only put one new food on their plate at a time along with other real food that you already know they like.
10. For older children talk to them about why it is important to make these changes and consider inviting them to watch the documentary Food, Inc. with you. You can also sit down and discuss our list of 10 reasons to cut out processed food. Most kids want to do the right thing and be healthy, and I promise you the transition will be so much easier if they’re on board with making changes.
11. Make sure you have the right expectations. Converting your child or your entire family over to real food is not supposed to be an easy or quick task. Buying, prepping and cooking wholesome meals is obviously going to be more work than ordering a highly processed pizza, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Just remember that the changes you will see in the health of your family will be more than worth it in the long run!
12. It really does take a dozen or more times for a child to realize they might like a new food. It took a lot of patience, but I think I even offered my youngest daughter green bell peppers two or three dozen times before she one day decided she liked it (much to my surprise!). So remember…persistence is key so don’t give up!
If you have any additional suggestions you’d like to share please leave them in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out our family real food meal plans if you are looking for ideas on what to specifically feed your kids.
132 thoughts on “Real Food Tips: 12 Ways to Deal with a Picky Eater”
hahahah. For us, any attempt to enforce rule 7 brings us into direct contravention of rule 8. “Picky eater” is only the start of it for us (in fact I’ve read that kids with food issues like our daughter’s are better described by the phrase “problem eaters”).
Having said that, after 11 years of patient effort she now eats a balanced, if limited diet, including fruit, veggies, and whole grains. But well-meaning people suggesting that helping with cooking or growing your own veggies are paths to success make me laugh in despair.
My dad wouldn’t let us leave he table until we ate our food or tries the one bite. And if it got too late, then we’d have save it until the next meal. We wouldn’t eat until we complied. And I have to say it was so effective that he only had to really enforce it a couple of times! And there were four of us…
I love this article. I’ve read it before, but it’s always worth a re-read, and I had to do that today. For my son’s entire life (he’s 4) he’s only known me to eat relatively healthy food, but my husband is a completely different story. I have always used the one bite rule, and it used to be a success but lately it is WWIII in the house at dinner time. And it doesn’t help that my husband hates all food that might be considered remotely healthy. I had to read number 8 again and keep it in mind. Additionally I’m going to try to implement number 9. Instead of putting a portion of the food on his plate – I’ll try one bite. Hopefully instead of sitting at the table for 45 minutes while he keeps the food in his mouth, leading to frustration and anger on all sides (and it STILL doesn’t get swallowed) he will just see it as one small bite and move on. I wish I had more “real food” friends or family around here, but I am absolutely alone in my thinking, and junk food is constantly given to my son despite my requests otherwise. That is one negative in an otherwise positive experience of having both sets of parents within five minutes of the house!
Some tips for working moms: I spend Sunday afternoon cooking. It is family time and I get lots of helpers. I could be cooking 3-4 dishes at once; soup, a caserole, veggie dish. It usually gets us through a few evening meals. As I start dinner each evening, kids are at the table doing homework. I’m right there to stop and help and we can get it out of the way. I put out a veggie tray before even starting dinner. Hungry snackers can fill as much as they like on the healthy treat. You would be suprised how much they eat! There isn’t any bargaining; it is just the only chioce. As I’m clean up from dinner, I plan the next nights meal. (The week’s menu was created before the week’s grocery trip so no going back for needed ingredients) I prep as much as possible so the next night’s meal is on the table quickly.
I want to be you what an awesome comment!
I was (and still am) a pretty picky eater. When I looked at your tip for having older kids watch Food Inc. I cringed a little. I had to watch that movie for a school project and all it did was make me even PICKIER. If you want your child to start eating healthier, that is the absolute wrong way to do it.
At what age do you implement a one bite rule? I have a 3 1/2 year old that cannot be reasoned, cajoled or bribed to try something he doesn’t want in his mouth, and often ends up in tears if we try to force the issue. How do you enforce something like that? Are there consequences if they don’t try it? Thanks in advance!
Hi Ashlee. It doesn’t work for all kids. Temper it with #8 and this perspective will help you know when to push it: http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/2011/07/parents-of-picky-eaters-unite-is-the-one-bite-rule-the-answer/. ~Amy
My Mother-in-law tells her grand kids that their taste buds change every day, so foods they don’t like today, they may like tomorrow. But, the foods you do like, you will always like. It has worked for her youngest, he is trying new foods every day.
I lucked out with my kiddo, he will eat anything. The crazier the better. He was the first one at the fair to try fried mealworms dipped in sweet and sour sauce at the fair when he was 5. Now he boasts having eaten frog, octopus, grasshoppers, mealworms. He can’t wait to try snails next!
Great tips! Another one that has really helped me is not bringing highly processed food into the home. Be careful what you stock your pantry with. If there is not so healthy processed food in your pantry, then thatâ€™s what your kids are going to be asking for. We canâ€™t line our pantries with sugary cereals and processed treats and expect our kids to prefer vegetables. When there is an abundance of easy to prepare processed favorites on your shelves, there is no motivation for the child to try something different or even the parent to make something healthier from scratch. Processed food scarcity will motivate kids to eat the healthy food on hand, and parents to make the meals.
When you live in apartments, growing your own food is not possible. When you live in places that don’t have stores like the one you recommend, it’s even more difficult. Also, a lot of wheat in one’s diet is not necessarily healthy either. Are their options? When you work long days and come home to a bunch of hungry children, how do you make it work? If you are a stay at home mom and have all the time in the world to cut, prepare and all of that…that’s one thing. But what if you are a primary income source and have to make it work when you are away from home?
Hi Christi. You can certainly find lots of whole grains that are not wheat, if you are trying to avoid it. You can see some of them here: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/06/28/food-allergies/. If you are looking to avoid wheat/gluten, Lisa has many recipes that work for that. Another resource would be http://deliciouslyorganic.net/. I know it can be very challenging to feed a family especially when all the burden falls on you. I think a good goal always is to just aim to do a little better one step at a time. Find recipes that you like, that work for your family, and make big batches and freeze. My freezer has made weeknights so much easier. You might have to give up part of a weekend to cooking, but it can really smooth out your week and soothe your worries. I’ve found that having a fridge and pantry full of healthy items helps assure that your kids make better choices when you can’t be there. :) Also, this post can help with budgeting: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/09/30/real-food-tips-12-ways-to-keep-it-cheap/. ~Amy
I was a single working mom for about 4 years, so I get where you’re coming from! (I was also extremely broke.) So I made meatballs & pasta sauce on my days off, freezing them in “dinner” sized portions. I made batches of muffins & pancakes and froze those as well. I also cooked chicken breast, and sliced it up, then froze it. (To have with salad, or on sandwiches.) I bought tons of bags of frozen veggies, cause you really can just rip them open, steam, sauté, or roast them. Lisa has some great crockpot recipes that freeze well, like her BBQ beans. Then you don’t have to stand over the stove.
Cooking on your day off- not that much fun sometimes. But- when you get home, exhausted, and only have to heat sauce, boil water for pasta, and throw a veggie in a pot, it’s totally worth it! And depending on how frugal you need to be, making “mini” meatballs turns a pound of ground meat into 2 meals… Everyone feels as though they got a lot, but you can stretch it out! :)
Try the 1 bite rule. We’ve been doing this with our 8 1/2 year old since she was about 3. She needs to take at least one bite of each food on her plate. If she doesn’t like it, she does not need to any eat more, but she does not get a special meal made for her. If she doesn’t like dinner, but is still hungry, she can have fruits or raw veggies, or yogurt to fill her up.
If she doesn’t try the food, it’s straight to bed…no reading, no electronics. We only had to send her to bed early once, for her to get the message that we were serious. It hasn’t varied her diet all that much, but at least she is trying new things. The rule stays the same even if she has tried something in the past & didn’t like it. Kids need repeated exposure to new foods, because it may take them a few tries before they actually like something.
I have an 8 1/2 year old daughter who absolutely REFUSES to taste new foods. We have tried everything: games, bribery, taking things away, hiding veggies in foods she likes, begging but as a holistic health counselor who helps clients eat healthier daily it really upsets me that my own kids (also have a 3 1/2 year old son) will not eat healthy whole foods. How would you recommend that I get my daughter to taste new foods? She is so stubborn when it comes to this and sometimes refuses to eat veggies that she’s eaten in the past just because she doesn’t want to. Her diet is bland and plain (pasta with butter, chicken, eggs, cucumbers and is even picky about fruit) and she spots the smallest speck of “green” in foods, she will never eat sauce or soups because there are too many ingredients in a soup (pasta in broth=yes but pasta, carrots in broth=NO WAY!) Any advice you can give will be so appreciated. I know kids need to try new foods and textures several times before liking them but I can’t even win the battle to get her to put a new food in her mouth. Thanks! Kim
I’m new to eating real food. I’m trying to eat healthier to help my husband lower his triglycerides. We have three boys and it’s our youngest that resists eating anything that is remotely healthy. This kid would live of off Mac-n-cheese, chicken nuggets , hamburgers and pizza if he could. There are times I can get him to eat apples but no other veggies or fruits. I know I can make my own chicken nuggets and home made mac and cheese…but if I make anything with veggies in it he picks it out. Help!!!
Hi there. Have you seen the rest of our picky posts? These might help: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/12/07/picky-eater-vs-problem-feeder/, https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/08/19/winning-over-your-picky-eater/, and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/07/08/top-10-feeding-mistakes-parents-make/. Also, I know this is controversial, but I used to puree veggies and “hide” them in dishes. I let the kids know the ingredients once they were eating the food. I believe it helped them develop a taste for more veggies. ~Amy
I had a super picky 6 year old foster son come to live with us 2 1/2 years ago. He ate exactly 4 foods, none of which were things I would normally offer. At first, I made these foods available, and simply stated that it is a house rule that you must TASTE one bite of anything that is served. Every time it is served. Over time, he started taking more bites. Today, he eats nearly everything I put in front of him, and no longer asks for the processed foods he started life on. Keep offering good choices, reduce the less desirable options, and they will adapt.
Ironically my foster kids are a lot less picky than my bio kids!
I serve “real food” to my daycare kids, which is often very different from what they eat at home. I make sure to include something each child finds edible at each meal. However, I simply will not buy foods that I find unhealthy.
I think the key is to offer only healthy foods and not to give in and break out the pizza or the chips just to get kids to eat. Also – keep it low pressure as you mentioned. I let kids know its up to them whether or not they choose to eat, but I am firm on the meal plan. Generally, kids get hungry, try new things and end up enjoying them after a few tries!
Some one told me once: It’s the adults job to offer healthy food to kids. It’s the kids job to eat.
Some great tips here – thanks!
Here’s a tip that helped with two of my three children (especially around the age of 3.5 when my “wonderful eaters” decided they no longer liked anything!): we came up with a “disgusting or delicious” list. I got a piece of motherboard and hung it prominently in the kitchen. There were two columns (disgusting or delicious) and every time we tried a new food, the kids told me what they thought. After dinner, we’d draw a picture of the food in whichever column they chose-and of course labeled it. They really got into trying new things! We also had a rule that you had to take 3 bites before you could decide where it belonged. Another beautiful thing? When I made the item again and they said “ew! Not that again!” I would point to the board and remind them that they thought it was delicious-and the argument stopped right there.
To warm my kids up to new foods I use a switch in ratio over time & it seems to go over well. Starting with an acceptable green (romaine) I threw in a handful of the unacceptable (spinach) over the next few weeks I increased the spinach to romaine ratio @ now my kids will eat a spinach salad. Worked well with the types of flour I used in recipes & getting them to have vegetable sauces on their pasta or rice.
I didn’t read all of the comments, so this may be a repeat. I withheld snacks for 2-3 hours before dinner time. When they were really hungry just before mealtime, I offered them the “new food” (or the one they didn’t like) to pacify them while waiting for me to serve dinner.
We have cut out just about all processed foods. My kids love it, my husband loves it most of the time. I need help with my daughter though. Since she was little she has loved fruits and veggies and she enjoys eating real food, and trying new reciepes.
However, she has a weakness for Chef Boyardee. It is the only food that she is upset about not having it in the house. Do you know of any real food receipes that taste simular? I’ve tried making some pasta dishes, but they taste nothing like Chef Boyardee because it doesn’t taste processed.
Hi Carla. It can be a bit of a taste bud adjustment when we are used to more processed foods. Part of the issue is the added sugar in most of those dishes. The sauces are made to taste slightly sweet. I will confess to sometimes sweetening tomato sauces with a bit of honey. :) ~Amy
Thank you Amy. I will try that! This way over time I can use less and less honey, then hopefully next time she tries Chef Boyardee she won’t like the taste anymore. I know I don’t and in my high school and college years I practically lived off the stuff!
Here is a link to a yummy homemade chicken strip recipe. I used white/wheat flour. Make lots because the cold leftover strips are DELISH!
Our picky-kid acceptable chicken strip/sandwich/nugget recipe is chicken cutlets (or breast pounded thin or cut into nuggets), dredged in seasoned white whole wheat flour, then dipped in egg, then rolled in whole wheat bread crumbs with paprika. Fry in a bit of coconut oil until golden on both sides, then transfer to a baking sheet with a rack. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. This method makes yummy, crispy chicken that all of us love. It’s great if you miss those breaded chicken patty sandwiches or chicken nuggets. I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze them, then thaw and reheat in the oven as needed.
I’d be interested in a post about peer pressure. My child is not really picky but brought home almost his entire uneaten lunch the other day because a kid said “ew” when he was eating a mushroom. (one of his very favorite foods) We talked with him but I’m not sure it did much good. I hope it doesn’t continue, he’s such a good eater!
I have a 3 year old problem eater. We started out with Baby Led Weaning at 6 months and up until he turned 1 he’d eat lots of foods. Then he started to refuse all foods to the point that he now only sometimes will eat vanilla yogurt, but only if I spoon feed him. Bread and butter. And occasionally wagon wheel shaped pasta with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on it.
I’ve honestly tried everything at this point. He sits at the table with us and we put the tiniest amount of our dinner on his plate and give him some bread to eat, but just putting the plate with our food on it near him causes him to have a huge tantrum and ask to go to bed instead. He’ll happily go to bed hungry rather than sit there or even lick a new food.
When I can finally convince him to try a food he’ll always say he liked it, but will never take another bite or try it again.
He won’t eat nuggets, mac and cheese, pizza, pb&j, pancakes, cheese or any of the foods that most picky eaters will eat. Veggies, fruit and meat are completely non existent from his diet. If it wasn’t for Pediasure/Instant breakfast my son who’s always struggled to even be on the weight chart would be in even worse shape.
We belong to local CSA’s and all our fruits and meat are organic and local. We cook almost all our meals. If we do buy something processed or have take out, he still won’t eat it.
I’m at my wits end. I’m going to try probiotics next because I’m running out of options that don’t involve expensive medical tests or therapy.
Hi Denise. I know that must be frustrating. It may help you to read through our other picky eater posts and the reader comments that follow. I’m certain you will feel less alone in your struggle: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/12/07/picky-eater-vs-problem-feeder/, https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/02/06/more-picky-eater-tips-and-a-140-giveaway/, and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/08/19/winning-over-your-picky-eater/. Also, this article deals with exactly what you are talking about: http://www.babycenter.com/0_feeding-problems-refusing-to-eat_9203.bc. Hope it helps. ~Amy
Just wanted to follow up with some links about why forcing them to eat is bad in the long run:
Any good nutritionist will tell you never to bribe with food, and never to make a child eat a less desirable food in exchange for a more desirable one — because the less desirable food will be even less desirable and the more desirable one will be even more desirable (there are clinical studies to prove this).
I’ve been trying to master homemade chicken nuggets that my children will eat (sorry Lisa I tried your recipe and my picky kids didn’t like it, my husband and I did though) they are obsessed with nuggets and I really hate the ready made stuff because in my opinion it’s complete crap. I found a new recipe last night and tried it out and my kids loved it. We have been trying to eat clean for a few months now and are doing pretty well, there was a post on here earlier that said just to give them choices between healthy items rather than junk food and I find that most of the time that works, we’ve cut out much of the processed stuff and sugar but my kids are often resistant to change so we’re trying to do things a little more gradually with them. Anyway, if my kids admitted to liking these nuggets that is huge so there is hope! (PS my 5 year old LOVES the pumpkin muffins, they are really good and I don’t feel bad about her eating them since there’s no sugar!)
What is the recipe for nuggets you found?? I’ve tried a few and still haven’t found one they like yet.
We have a one bite rule here. My 6 year old is hesitant at first, but most things he likes after the first taste. My 3 year old is an entirely different story. If he likes it, he will tell me it is good but he still won’t eat it. If he doesn’t like it – oh boy – he screams and cries that it tastes like “good stuff” and he is allergic to it. Two days ago he even ran to the bathroom crying and tried to throw-up!!! He absolutely cannot handle the idea of eating healthy, for now. We keep trying.
We have an “eat one” rule. One bean, one asparagus spear, etc. It can followed with a swig of milk if appropriate. As long as there is no gagging, I’m comfortable with this requirement. We eat new foods over time in various ways or with different sauces/dips. The green beans took a while but eventually my son liked them. If he eats one and doesn’t care for more, I always suggest that he just keep trying them in the meals to come, and he may find that his taste buds “have grown up” and he’ll like them. It works!
These are some great suggestions! I especially like how you incorporated the real food aspect into this. Recently on my own blog we discussed it but more from a toddler’s standpoint. Ironically my 5 year old is the picky eater, so some of you suggestions will definitely be beneficial to him.
I tried the whole wheat banana pancakes with my 16 month old “very selective eater.” It took a few bites and him seeing me eat them before he quit spitting them out and finally ate them. Now he gets excited when he sees me pull some out of the freezer!! He loves them and so do I. I did the same thing with the Annie’s whole wheat mac and cheese. It took a few tries, but he’ll eat that now. I still haven’t been able to get him to eat vegetables, unless they’re pureed in the pouches.
Do you have any tips for introducing new foods to younger toddlers?
Any suggestions for the 46 year old picky eater in my house who LOVES George Carlin’s response to picky eating and why he doesn’t like a food if he hasn’t even tried it…”I know I don’t like it and if I tried it, I would like it even less.” HELP!
Hello RT. Yeah, those adults are hard! Just keep trying and keep educating! Sometimes just changing the way a dish is prepared and presented is enough to inspire a taste. With my adult slightly picky one, all I need to do is add cheese. :) ~Amy
Amy…I wish it was so easy. In a nutshell…no casseroles, no sauces/gravies (except BBQ/ketchup), no seafood, and his acceptable fruit and veggie list is limited to the occaissional apple, corn (only on the cob), and potatoes (not mashed, and preferreably not sweet potatoes). So far my 9yr old and 2yr old are only moody eaters, not quite picky eaters! Best wishes to all the other cooks trying to deal with this issue!
Hello again RT. Sorry that it is such a challenge. Keep at it and your kids will stay on the right track. ;) All the best! ~Amy
We have started cooking more as a family (one of my new year goals). I have twins that are almost 3. My daughter eats ANYTHING and EVERYTHING! I feel blessed by that. My son eats like what I assume a normal little guy eats like. He is wary of foods mixed together and new things. He might not eat anything when it is on the plate, but if he “samples” the ingredients as he is cooking, he gets on board! We made a broccoli quiche, which he normally wouldn’t have touched, but since he put the cheese, beat the eggs, and tossed in the broccoli, he gave it a go!
I have 3 children ages 13, 8 and 4. We eat fairly healthy, with fruits and vegetables and limited sugar and processed foods. I am trying to make the move to eliminate ALL white sugar and processed items. I am having the hardest time with the teenager, she has a very delicate pallate, she doesn’t like the whole grains or earthier breads, cereals and crackers, she doesn’t like oats. We discuss often the reasoning for the move. We talk about what these fake foods do to our bodies etc. I bake often and have been using white flour for the most part, I usually remove about half a cup of the flour and add ground flax or oat bran. What I need help with is what can I do, if I want to do most of my own baking to make muffins, cookies, pancakes, breads is whole wheat not enough? I thought we were eating quite healthy, no sugary cereals, I don’t buy store bought cookies, or muffins, they don’t get junk like fruit roll ups or pop tarts etc. We don’t even drink juice, no pop. No candy except the occasional things on Halloween and such. I don’t have a problem with their fruit and veggie intake, its more like the grain heatlhy choices, like making the switch to quinoa, or couscous things like that. They like their pasta although I don’t make it often, we tried brown rice pasta and it went over ok, except the 13 year old. To make a big salad with all of the stuff mixed up doesn’t work either, it has to be separate. Also, we are a very busy family, and 3-4 nights a week, our dinner needs to be quick to prepare because I like us to be sitting down together and I don’t want us scarfing it down. So if you had any dinner ideas, and on the go snacks I would appreciate the help. Also, what do you consider okay for sweetner, I have used applesauce, honey and agave syrup before, are these acceptable choices?
One of our favorite meals is to have a salad bar with lots of toppings. The kids enjoy helping get all the things they like and put everything in little bowls on a turntable with a big bowl of plain greens in the middle. Maybe your 13 year old would like this since everything is separate. I find that the kids end up eating a little of everything because it’s fun to take some out of all the little bowls. It’s a lot of dishes to wash, but it’s worth it to see them enjoying so many kinds of veggies. And it’s a pretty quick meal to prepare, that the kids can help with or even make themselves! Some toppings we like: peppers, carrots, sprouts, craisins, tomatoes, olives, nuts, cheese, celery, sunflower seeds. The kids like italian dressing (I need to come up with a good homemade version) and I love my homemade ranch made with raw milk.
Hi Trish. Congratulations on all you are doing to make the switch. My first thought is have you tried using the 100% white whole wheat flour that we often use. I can tell you firsthand that my kids didn’t flinch when I started using it. It a great way to bridge the gap. For the pasta switch, I used more sauce in my pasta recipes and it made the change less noticeable. We also had to experiment until we found those we like the best. Trader Joe’s has been our brand of choice as well as 365 from Whole Foods.
As for agave, here is a post that may be of interest: http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/. And here is a link with snack ideas: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/07/31/85-snacks-for-kids-and-adults/. Also, have you subscribed to the blog and “liked” us on Facebook in order to download the meal plans: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/our-free-meal-plans/. Hope this helps. ~Amy
Love these tips! I have been reading this site off and on for a little while, but just now seeing these. Something else that works for my kids is telling them, “Maybe you will like it now that you are [whatever age]”.
I have explained to my kids that I was very picky as a kid too. But as I got older, I started to like things I would never even try as a kid. So I make sure they know it is okay to not like something, but to be open to trying it again later. Now this is a regular thing I hear, “Mom, now that I am 7, I like [gnocchi, asparagus, fish, whatever]!”
Although admittedly, I did hear the other day, “Now that I am 4, I don’t like broccoli anymore.” Ah well… can’t win ’em all!
What do you do when your husband is the picky eater!? :)
Hi Kristen. That is a hard one…at the end of the day, he is an adult and he is going to have to want to make the change…I don’t know that there is anything you can do to force that one. You could provide him with “the facts” though as much as you can to try and make him understand why a change would be good. You may also find this post helpful…https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/07/07/convincing-a-reluctant-spouse-to-eat-real-food/. Good luck. Jill
Only a few months ago, my 3 year old son was trying new food and he liked it. He was even requesting fish a few nights a week. He has never like fruit (except banana) or vegetables but eating everything else was great and hiding the good was working. Now he is on this hot dog thing. All he wants is hot dogs! Its pretty gross. He will try other foods, after threatening to through out Hot Dogs, but he doesn’t like them. He tastes and spits it out. Pancakes, bread, go-gurt and all junk still have a place in his diet, but nothing healthy. I am hoping he will stop liking the hot dogs soon, and move on. But what if he doesn’t? Any suggestions of healthier hot dogs for faux dogs I could give him? Turkey Kielbasa works, but no sure that is much better.
Hi Brooke. Applegate makes a hot dog that is nitrate free. Best of luck. Jill
I work with a family of 3 boys (6, 3 1/2, and 19 months) and they are the pickyest eaters I have ever worked with to the point that mealtimes become the times I dread the most. Super frustrating! The 6 year old will only eat raw carrots, sometimes under great protest a bit of steamed brocolli, refuses sweet potato, won’t touch any salad greens or tomato or cucumber or onion or mushroom or celery. Won’t eat slices of ham protests chicken, takes forever to pick thru slices of beef or hamburger and will only eat parmesean cheese sliced thinly. The 3 1/2 year old will only eat puree baby food veggies ie carrots and sometimes carrots and peas, won’t eat any meat other than slices of ham and thin slices of marble cheese(no other type of cheese). the 19 month old refuses to eat any puree for me(mom makes her own with boiled chicken and red lentils) and won’t eat any raw or cooked veggies. I can get him to eat slices of ham and sometimes marble cheese. They all like bread(we only have whole wheat) and crackers(again whole wheat) and I make pancakes(from scratch with whole wheat flour) once a week which if I don’t add anything(bananas, cheese & pasta, yes I have tried to hide them) and make it the right colour for one and plain for the others they will eat it. Mom and grandmother will spoon feed younger two if they are there at meals. The youngest and oldest will drink homemade smoothies every day but not the middle child. He apparently threw up once after having one so won’t touch them ever again. Any suggestions as to what to do? Mom is not ready to face the stage of if they are hungry they will eat and gives in to all demands with homemade wholewheat banana choc chip muffins or ice cream or chewy bars(granola type with choc chip). the 3 1/2 is going to go to school fulltime in the fall. ARRGH! so frustrating I love these boys but mealtimes are becoming a real issue
Hi Nanny. It sounds like you need to work things out with the family maybe. I would say that they should eat whatever is offered and if they don’t want it, then that’s their choice. Best of luck. Jill
I find your tips so enlightening and I’m trying to apply them with my 4 yo twins. the problem i have is that i don’t know how to present the food to them. For example sometimes they like their starch on one bowl and the sauce/protein in another, but other times they don’t eat, even if it’s one of their favorite, because they want it mixed (!) how would you approach this?
My other question is what to do when they gag at the table, is it best to ignore or tell them that is not good manners? And if they gag is it still good to force them to eat the one bite?
Hi Eugenia. I know they’re a little young, but, what if you just put everything on the table and have them fix their own plate…that way they put it where they want it on their plate. And, I find that almost makes them more interested. As far as the gagging, I’m guessing they are doing it mostly for attention (I have 4 little ones so I know the drill :-)). I would just ignore it and see if they stop. If not, then maybe address it away from the table that it’s not appropriate, etc. It’s hard, I know, but, just keep at it. Jill
The insisting kids try at least one bite of something before they decide they don’t like it really works. My mother told my sister and I that throughout our childhood, and even now that we’re grown we still go ‘well how can I know I don’t like it, if I don’t try it?’
I love these tips! I’m hoping to avoid too much of struggle in the future by starting Hailey off on whole, unprocessed food. At age 1, she eats all her vegetables and fruits. I’m hoping it continues as she begins to develop into an opinionated toddler ;)
This blog and the recipes have given me so much inspiration to provide healthier foods for our family. We’re doing well! My 2-year-old eats nearly everything while my 4-year-old daughter is the pickier one.
The one thing that worked best for us was to rid the house of all the stuff we don’t want them to eat. All of it. Gone. If it’s there, they will see it and beg for it. I hate the fighting so I just don’t buy it. This includes all dessert foods, chips, sugary yogurts, juice, etc. From what’s left in the house, they develop new “favorites” and start to ask me for those instead.