Kids, Veggies, and Grace: What to Do With a Picky Eater

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Written by Brandy, Contributing Writer

There was once this little girl who hated tomatoes.

The very thought of them nauseated her, and so if one dared touch her food, she grimaced disdainfully, and flicked the slimy debris from her plate as best she could. Annoyed that the food she would have eaten had been tainted by this undesirable, unnecessary addition to her plate, she chose to not eat anything at all.

There were other times. Like when her mother made casseroles with tiny, chopped onions. The girl would become angry that her mother would include the pesky pieces that she couldn’t pick out in her dinner. She’d spend several minutes trying to rummage through the portion on her plate, selecting various bites that she deemed acceptable to her palate, but ultimately pushed her plate back, happier to be hungry than to eat the things she didn’t like.

It was hard for the girl to find anything to eat at holiday family gatherings.

Pea salad? Gross!!

Banana pudding? No way!!

It seemed everywhere she looked, the food had fruit or vegetable in it and that was just not something that she was going to eat!! But she didn’t let it bother her too much. With a few bites of turkey breast and a roll on her plate, she ate happily, knowing that chocolate pie would fill up any emptiness left in her tummy.

Her mom didn’t push her. She definitely tried to make the little girl eat better. She set boundaries and the little girl knew that she had to eat THIS before she got THAT. The mom gently nudged the daughter along when she knew she needed to, and gave her grace (and time) when she knew it was okay.

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That little girl was me. A now-grown 36-year-old mother of eight boys who loves eating vegetables and drinking fruit (and vice versa). And I’m a mom much like my own. I’m committed to teaching our children how and what to eat, but at the same time, I recognize personality differences among my children and extend grace when it’s needed.

Thirty years after my mother taught me (the recipient then) to give grace, I find myself in her same situation with one very picky son of ours. I thought I was picky? That was nothing compared to the thoughts our boy has towards food. Although I know now that my mom was right all those years ago when she reminded me as a young mom that “children will come around if you don’t force them”, it took me a while to accept her words with confidence.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to dealing with picky eaters.

One is: You’re the parent and what you say goes, so make them eat what you put in front of them.

And the other: Don’t worry, your kids will eat when they’re hungry.

I have to admit that I’ve tried both theories.

And failed.

Hideously.

When we tried to force our child to eat something he didn’t like, he became emotionally distraught and the situation was just made more complicated.  And when he refused to eat and we tried the “well, you chose not to eat dinner so you will just have to wait until breakfast” approach when our son was asking for food later on, we felt terrible.

When we tried to be more relaxed about it and just let him eat what he wanted when he wanted it, that didn’t work either, as he needed the encouragement and guidance.

Do you see the beauty of the balance that my mom taught me all those years ago?  To neither extreme of forcing me to eat and ultimately fostering a bad attitude towards food in my mind, nor allowing me to eat desserts before my dinner or snacks instead of meals, she did the right thing. 

Sure, I missed out on some beta carotene now and then.  And I am almost certain I didn’t touch a piece of lettuce all through elementary!  But as I got older, I became more and more adventurous in trying new foods.

For this reason, although it’s painful for me at times to watch one of our sons repeatedly turn down foods that I really want him to eat, I cannot bring myself to force him to eat things he doesn’t like.  Like I said, we tried that and it doesn’t work.  We do set limitations with him and give him regular reminders to eat an apple instead of more crackers, and although he does like grapes, we still have to encourage him to put them on his plate and eat them along with his other foods at mealtimes.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help make sure all of our kids are getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets.

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Sneak Them In

Ever heard of the book Deceptively Delicious?  There are so many ways of sneaking fruits and veggies into other foods without your child even knowing what they’re eating.  No, this is definitely not the bottom line, as we know that teaching children why and how to eat healthy is crucial, BUT when you’re struggling to get ANY fruits and veggies into them, this is a viable option.  

I’ve discovered over the years that even my most suspecting picky eater won’t notice butternut squash puree in the spaghetti sauce.  And he has never noticed the tiny chopped onions that I let cook away in the chili.  Other boys have no idea that there is spinach in their smoothies.

Juices are another way of getting essential nutrients into our kiddos.  Even if you don’t have a juicer at home to make fresh apple carrot grape juice, there are several store-bought options that are 100% juice.  As good as eating the whole fruit?  Nope.  But better than nothing.

Subbing In Healthier Options

There have been times when I’ve been able to explain to my child that since they like one food, they will probably like a healthier version (and they might even like it more)!  Sometimes it just takes a bit of encouragement, but often a child will give the healthier option at least a chance.

Instead of french fries, offer baked oven fries, or baked sweet potato fries, or even a baked potato.

Instead of chips for snacks, offer dried fruit, dehydrated carrots, or any other favorites you may have or think your child will enjoy.  Many kids who won’t touch a raw vegetable will eat veggie chips or sweet potato chips.   Health food stores that have bulk bins are great places to explore for more options.

For desserts, instead of a brownie or a cookie, let your child choose from amongst his favorite fruits.  Even our pickiest thoroughly enjoys watermelon!

Let Them Dip

There are times when a little Ranch dressing goes a long way in helping a mom get some critical nourishment into her kiddos’ bodies!  Many times, our boys have refused their raw organic baby carrots on their plates until I approach the table with their favorite ranch dressing.  And after that?  They want to know if they can have more carrots, or more celery, or more broccoli to dip into their dressing (or dip).

One of our favorite family dinners is a simple one of hummus and raw yellow, orange and red bell peppers.  I can’t imagine that many of our children would ever ask for just a bell pepper (well, some of them might), but give them hummus to dip it  in?  They love it!

A healthy breakfast and even lunch can be as simple as organic apple slices to dip in peanut butter!

Sometimes it’s what you dip, and other times, it IS the dip that’s more nutritious!  For instance, with guacamole!  If you can grab a bag of healthier tortilla chips or organic blue corn chips, guacamole is a great snack or healthy addition to lunch or dinner!  And the same goes for fresh pico de gallo or salsa (depending on the pickiness of the child).

Make Food Fun

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Sometimes getting kids to eat just involves a little creativity and fun!

Here are a few fun ideas:

  • funny faces on oatmeal pancakes with fruit
  • fruit skewers for dipping in yogurt
  • vegetable or fruit rainbow on a plate
  • stuffed celery stalks (cream cheese or peanut butter)
  • tons of ideas on Pinterest

Smoothies

One of the easiest ways to get our kids to ingest healthy fruits and vegetables is making smoothies.  With endless varieties and flavors, there is a recipe for even the pickiest of eaters.  Not only is a smoothie healthy and delicious, but it’s also a great way to sneak in other key nutrients your child’s diet may be missing.

Here is a basic recipe for a simple smoothie.  The beauty of smoothies is that you can tailor it to your child’s taste.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • big handful of (fresh or frozen) strawberries (6 – 8, depending on size)
  • 3/4 cup yogurt (Organic vanilla yogurt is really yummy!)
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • splash of apple juice (or water)

Instructions:

  1. Place banana in blender pitcher first, then all other ingredients, adding frozen strawberries and ice last.
  2. Blend until completely smooth.
  3. Taste.  Add anything you think is missing and blend again.

How do you get your children to eat their fruits and veggies?

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About Brandy Ferguson

Brandy is a wife of 17 years and a homeschooling mom of eight boys. She spends most of her time teaching, cooking, and managing a busy, happy home.  She also enjoys writing and encouraging mothers at her blog where she shares household tips, homeschooling resources and recipes at TheMarathonMom.com.

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Comments

  1. We have eating issues in my house. My 6yo ds has SPD, and a long list of foods he will not eat. However, he is my best eater. He will gladly eat a plate filled with raw fruits and veggies, or a salad. No dip needed. But give him a slice of pizza that has cheese on it, his food on the wrong plate, or 2% milk instead of whole, and you will have major issues, which of most are not his fault and not a discipline issue.
    On the other hand, my 3yo dd with no sensory issues, is what I would consider a bad eater. She wants her food from a box, she wants carb filled snacks, cereal for breakfast, and turns away from the “real” food we mostly eat. I buy healthier cereal for her, and better versions of the things she does like, and she knows that even if she thinks she does not like what is on her plate, she at least has to take a few bites of everything. She will often sit at the table refusing to eat something, until she takes a bite, and then she likes it. I think her issue is more stubbornness :)

  2. Thank you for this post. It is interesting to see how other people encourage their fussy eaters to give food a try. It can be so discouraging for your child to point blank refuse to eat dinner before the plate even hits the table.

    I have 2 daughters. My first is a fantastic eater. She will try everything. The only food she really objects to is mushrooms. I once chopped a tiny mushroom very small & hid it in her food. She refused to eat that dinner because she could taste the mushroom but couldn’t find it to pick it out. She obviously just really dis-likes the taste of mushrooms. I am the same with peanuts though so I understand how it is for her.

    My second daughter is 2.5 & about a year ago she started being really fussy with her food. It takes a bit of imagination but we are slowly finding ways to get her eating foods. She refuses to eat anywhere strange so I’ve taken to making sure that either there is a restaurant/cafe in the area that has sweet peppers or bringing some with me in my bag. Raw sweet peppers are her favourite food.
    With some foods it’s a case of tricking her a little. For instance, she will eat minced beef but not meat balls, so I have to mash the meatball before she notices it was a meatball (can be a bit tricky as she is mommy’s little helper in the kitchen). She won’t eat soup but we discovered that if we put spaghetti pasta in the soup, she will eat some of it. She also loves potatoes so we try to hide other veg in mashed potatoes such as parsnip, squash or turnips.

    Both my girls were late getting teeth but I always offered them whatever we were eating regardless of whether they had the teeth to chew it or not. You’d be amazed what they manage to do with gums.

  3. One option to help our children or husbands for that matter is Juice Plus. It is literally 17 different fruits and vegetables with two grains (gluten free) that have been juiced and then the water, sugar, and salt have been removed. It is then put into a capsule or a chewable. While it is not meant to replace eating the real thing, I have found it to be such a help in bridging the gap between the 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables that we are to have daily and the reality of what is consumed.

    I am pleased that this is not a vitamin, but real food. The FDA gave it a nutrition label, not a supplement label. Wow! I also find it encouraging to know that there are numerous third party, peer reviewed, gold standard studies done that demonstrate that this is a top notch product. It really gets into the bloodstream and does what fruits and vegetables are supposed to do. It might be worth considering for your family. I just add it to the grocery budget.
    http://www.stuckerjuiceplus.com

    Currently I open the capsules and add it to the yogurt I serve my toddler. However the chewables are really yummy, and any kid would love them.

  4. This is something I constantly struggle with! I use a lot of recipes from The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious. Plus my kids will drink green smoothies so I serve those for snacks daily. I just have to make peace that I am doing the best I can :)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the post. My older son is 4 and around the time he turned 18 months, he suddenly became a very picky eater. I myself was a picky eater until I was TWENTY FIVE yrs old (!) so I know how he feels yet I still ache for all he’s missing out on. It’s true, you can’t force-feed your kids. (I’m embarrassed to admit we actually attempted this.) My situation is worse than most: my son won’t try *anything* new, not even desserts. Nothing new at all. He only drinks water. Won’t try juice or smoothies. I will have to check out that cookbook and see what I can fit in to his usual diet. In the meantime, a few weeks ago I took the next step I possibly could: I stopped buying all crackers, pretzels or other grain snacks. It’s simply not available as an option so he’s forced to choose from healthier things when he’s hungry (he’ll eat an apple with PB or mandarin oranges). I’ve been making banana muffins with whole wheat flour, ground oats, ground walnuts, and ground flax seeds so I have at least that much going into him lol. I know he’ll come around before he’s 25. :) May God continue giving all of us mommies of picky eaters extra grace!

  6. this is a great post. And well, so confirming. My oldest is the model eater, loves everything or at least will try it. But, my youngest is the polar opposite. I have tried all sorts of methods for getting him to eat. And now, well I just tell myself to relax. I do try to have at least one option on his plate that he will eat, I ask that he try the other options. But, more often than not he says no. Anyway, what I can say has helped us, because he does eat a LOT more variety than before, is simply making most of his options healthy (or healthier). We simply don’t do the junk food often. I don’t buy it, so we don’t eat it. The other thing is, I try really hard not to notice what he ate and did not eat. If I’m not fussing over the beans they often disappear.
    But, I do like the reminder here to make food fun, and some of your ideas. I really haven’t played too much with hiding nutrients. But maybe it would be to all our benefit.

    • Rita, you are right on. If we don’t bring junk in, it’s not there as an option, so children have only healthy options to choose from. And also, like you, my oldest two are wonderful eaters. So, when our third child was picky, I was surprised.

  7. Thank you for such an encouraging post! My hubby and I do a lot of what you suggested with our six year old. He is the only one out of six kids who is picky, so we consider ourselves blessed in that regard. We have learned that ketchup and ranch dressing “make everything taste better”! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. At this age, they do not know what is good for them and what is not. Our general rule is that he has to take three bites of something before he decides if he truly does not like it. I think tastes change over time and I am confident he will learn to like some of the things he deems “gross” right now. :)

  8. For the most part, my daughters are good eaters who enjoy fruits and vegetables. It’s not uncommon to hear “more Brussels sprouts please!” from our 2 year old, which makes me very happy. We don’t force them to eat what we serve, but if they totally refuse their supper they don’t get a bedtime snack later. (It does make me feel guilty though…) If I can see that they have made an effort to try the food and genuinely dislike the taste or texture, I usually cut them some slack. But I definitely don’t make them a different meal.

    Your post is bang-on. A balance between encouragement and grace goes a long way!

  9. PeaceHopeLove says:

    Great post. I like your mom’s approach. I do sneak in “hidden” veggies in green smoothies and popcicles and muffins. (Though not really hidden as he usually helps me make them.) I do encourage them to try new foods but don’t force the issue beyond a couple bites. Forcing young kids to eat is just not a power struggle I want to engage in. With a country of obese adults dealing with all kinds of food issues I don’t believe “control” or “emotion” should be a huge part of eating. It drives me crazy how the grandparents try to coerce my kids into cleaning their plates! (All of whom are ALWAYS on some kind of diet, I might add.) When I serve a meal I encourage them to eat, but if they don’t, that is their choice and they can wait until the next meal or snacktime. However, junky foods are (almost) never an option in our home, for the kids or adults. So that helps. And I do try to teach them about good nutrition and why we choose to eat the foods we do. Hopefully some of it will stick! ;)

  10. I have been so blessed that my children are not picky eaters. They are two and one and will eat virtually anything. My two year old is not a huge fan of mushrooms, so I let him leave them if he asks. Sometimes though he doesn’t even notice! He also is not a huge potato fan, so I let that go. When he wolfs down the broccoli and salmon and doesn’t want the oven fries it’s hard to get mad. Occasionally though I do make him eat something, simply because I know that he doesn’t really despise it he’s just being obstinate! I served rice and beans for lunch the other day and he didn’t eat it. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, just gave them to him again for supper. He was pretty hungry at that point so he ate it.

  11. My son was very picky, but my daughter is even pickier. She even refuses things like bread most of the time. Sometimes the healthiest lunch for her is pretzels with peanut butter and apples. It was a challenge from very early. She refused a bottle even with breast milk, so we had to go from nursing straight to a sippy cup. She also had low-weight problems and so we had to add calorie powder to her baby food. (Say NO to Pediasure!) And then she didn’t get her first tooth until she was 15 months, so many foods were off the table until she could chew them. She’s 2 and we’re still waiting on her last 2 teeth.

    One thing that has helped is incentives. If our 5 or 2 year old want something, then they have to eat their meal or the designated # of bites. That concept was hard for our 2 year old, so we would let her have a sip of the juice she wanted, then encourage her to eat a bite of her food. After that bite, we’d let her have another sip, etc. We got quite a bit into her using that method! We don’t really subscribe to the “clean your plate” theory, so if they say they’re full, then they’re done, but if they come to us 30 minutes later saying they’re hungry, then it’s too bad because dinner is over.

    Another thing I’ve learned is if we grow it, then my son will eat it. My kids just love watching a fruit or vegetable grow from a seed, to a baby plant, to an edible food. My son loathes lettuce, but if I tell him it’s from our own garden, he quickly changes his mind and wants it on his sandwich. There’s a type of ownership – a “Little Red Hen” attitude that comes from growing your own food. “I helped plant that seed. I helped water it. I watched it grow and kept it healthy. And now I get to eat it!” It’s such a sense of accomplishment for young children who have so much they’re not in charge of. Being in charge of a plant and reaping the rewards in the end is very empowering.

    I do appreciate this post that reminds to give grace when it is required and to make mealtime a positive experience. Through time and patience, our son has slowly expanded his palette and even our daughter is slowly making her way there. And I think it’s important to identify our children’s capabilities when it comes to food. I, myself, have texture issues even as an adult, and so sometimes it’s not always a “fight for independence” factor, but something that is outside their control. As parents, we need the grace to work with that, but obviously, we’re still in charge. :-)

    • Stephanie says:

      How interesting Sarah, my picky eater was the same way with bottles! He also went straight from nursing to sippy cups! I didn’t mind because it was much less work for me lol but wow, I wonder if it was foretelling what a picky eater he would eventually become?

  12. Thank you! Finally a post that doesn’t make me feel guilty! I have heard of parents that can make their child try foods, but that just didn’t work with my oldest. Now that we don’t push so hard, she will try at least one bite of what is served to her, and that is huge. I think it is partially a maturity issue, she is 4 now. My 2 yo is much easier and we didn’t do anything differently. Kids are just different! We do much of what you suggested and they both have pretty healthy, well balanced diets!

    • I agree, very well-balanced post. I too don’t understand how one ‘makes’ a child try foods. Well, I kind of do because we can convince my younger son to try most things, but when it comes to my older son? Nope, nuh-uh, no way. Not reasoning, not offering ‘dipping sauces’ not bribing not making him sit at the table, nothing. You name a ‘well we just did this’ and I will tell you that it emphatically didn’t work for us. On the extremely rare occasion that we managed to force him into a bite of something he didn’t want the gagging is truly impressive. And yet he is also my child who likes the strong tastes…spicy, sour, pungent.

      He just turned 10 and we finally decided to have a feeding evaluation done, because the problem is not going better. Still waiting for the results, but learned that he truly is unbribe-able…he loves Cheetos but would not even eat the tiniest morsel of pear for the promise of them. At least I know that’s not all in my head.

  13. My daughter has strange tastes. She will eat lima and kidney beans, but not lettuce and tomato. She’ll eat carrots and corn, but only when mixed with lima and green beans. She’ll eat baked potato but not the skin; but doesn’t like mashed potatoes, though she will eat potatoes as french fries, oven fries or breakfast potatoes. I didn’t think she would eat broccoli either but recently I mashed it up in her baked potato and melted cheese over it. She ate some. Then I picked up the fill potato skin and ate it like a sandwich, while explaining to her how fun it was. She thought that was great and ate the entire potato, skin and all, along with the broccoli mashed inside. I’ve also discovered that serving macaroni and cheese over veggies helps. She’ll just eat the whole bowl and not pick out the veggies. In her case, if I want her to eat it, I put cheese on it.

  14. We just make our kids eat what we put in front of them. Not so much because “I’m the parent and what I say goes” but more because children don’t have the wisdom and discipline to make themselves eat what their bodies need. I try to stay aware of when their appetites are larger or smaller, but regardless of what they want they just eat what we put in their bowls. For instance, my 3 year old hates soup. Hates. It. Doesn’t matter what kind, texture or flavor, he doesn’t like it. We make him eat it though, because it’s a very nourishing food that we eat frequently. He doesn’t have to like it, he just has to eat it. I pretty much loathe spinach, but I eat it because it’s good for me and I have the understanding and discipline to make myself eat it. Someday we hope our boys will have that understanding and discipline, too! Hubby and I both have seen the ill effects of people just eating what they like or feel like eating, rather than just eating because it’s what your body needs. We want to teach our children to eat to live, and not have food be such a controlling and central part of their lives, as is so common in our culture today.
    We do a lot of the things you suggested, like dipping, making food fun, and smoothies! But when it comes down to it . . . yeah, I’m the parent and what I say goes;)

    • Stephanie says:

      How do you make your son eat soup if he hates it? If my son didn’t want something the only way to get it in his mouth would be to physically hold him down and pry his mouth open. So I’m really curious!

      • We tell him he has to eat it. If he refuses he gets three swats. But he doesn’t usually fight it, he just informs us he doesn’t like it. Multiple times:) We’re pretty strict when it comes to obedience in every thing we tell him to do, so I think that helps him not argue too much about food issues. We do combine the firm “you will eat this food” with lots of encouragement, praise and usually an incentive-like a piece of toast after he eats his soup, or a piece of fruit since he loves those things. It’s not like we’re standing over him, glaring and fussing at him to eat right now OR ELSE!
        I know a lot of parents don’t want to make food a battle ground. My husband and I feel very strongly that getting enough of the right kinds of food into our bodies is so important, especially with young children who are growing and developing so rapidly. But when it comes to eating food he doesn’t like, we just treat the situation as any other obedience issue. Mama and Daddy say to eat it, so you have to obey. We did start this from the time he was a little over one year, although we obviously didn’t swat him then:)
        I know this isn’t for every family, but it’s working well for us (so far! Ask me what I think in another 20 years!).

        • Kerry D. says:

          Deb,
          Glad to hear the approach is working well so far, but I’m worried about the future. There does come a day when they’re out of our presence, and need to make good choices–hopefully choosing healthy foods rather than the opportunity to rebel then. And, I’d hate to think if he objects to foods because they are somehow very overwhelming, but being swatted if he doesn’t eat them. Just because of my experience, and the medical issues we discovered much later in our children’s life, but didn’t know when they were toddlers and preschoolers.

        • danae_epicure@yahoo.ca says:

          I wholeheartedly agree with Deb. We approach mealtimes the same way. We don’t have the money or time to make something different for each kid at mealtimes. I don’t think it’s right to allow kids to be picky just because we live in a first world country. We don’t have to hold their mouths open but we were firm with our oldest when he was little (he only wanted crackers and bread and milk) and now he will eat absolutely anything we give him. No, he doesn’t like everything but he eats it and often he is pleasantly surprised when he takes a bite of something he doesn’t think he’ll like and it turns out he loves it. Our 2 year old was scarily underweight because we tried letting her “choose which foods she liked”. The doctor was even nervous. We went back to the same strategy we used with our oldest and she is now growing and gaining weight and healthy. I think it ultimately comes down to obedience. If your child argues with you over other things and gets away with it they will see no reason not to kick up a fuss at the dinner table.

          • danae_epicure@yahoo.ca says:

            Let me also say though that I love this blog. Thank you Stephanie for such a great variety of topics and insight. The feeding issue is not an eternal one, but having a Christ centered home Is an eternal issue.

          • Speaking as someone who had/has true food aversions, I’m so thankful my parents understood it wasn’t an obedience issue. I can’t imagine how psychologically and physically harmful it would have been for me to have been spanked and treated as disobedient when I just really couldn’t stomach certain things. A friend of mine was…she grew up to have an eating disorder.

            • Stephanie says:

              I agree…I was a horribly picky eater and I can only imagine how much worse it would have been (or if I had been hit over it) if my mother treated it as an obedience issue.
              God doesn’t force-feed us anything, not even His Son :)

        • Stephanie says:

          Ahh I see. We’re not total authoritarians and we don’t do swatting. I understand your desire to have him eat well.

        • We tend to have a more balanced approach to this. Our rule of thumb is you must eat one bite of everything, and we have had very few battles over food. We have given swats on occasion, because I agree it may be an issue of obedience, but it depends on the situation for us. Our kids are willing to eat everything that is in front of them now. If they are not willing to try a bite, it goes to the next meal, but honestly we have only had to do that once with each child. We do go to ‘you must eat this’ once we know that they have enjoyed a certain food and/or have been willing to eat it in the past. We try to also realize there are things we don’t like to eat as well, but we agree with your approach. I make a point of eating certain foods in front of them that I do not like. I will say, “I do not care for mushrooms, but they are good for me so I am going to eat a couple of them anyway.” Now, our children beg for more of things like broccoli and spinach at meals!

          I grew up in a home where the author’s method was used and honestly, I was a picky eater until well into college. I also hated trying new foods at friends’ houses and always had this internal battle inside of me in those situations because I knew I should eat what I was offered but was never encouraged to try new things at home. It was through many situations like this that I finally got over my pickiness. My parents did what they thought was best – they grew up in homes where they were not allowed to leave the table w/o finishing their food and they hated it so I think that’s why they went completely the other way with us.

          So that’s why I’ve taken a bit more of a balanced approach. I certainly don’t want it to be something that they go backwards w/ when they have kids, but I want them to be willing to try new things and develop their tastes, so it’s working for us.

      • Kerry D. says:

        I would recommend not forcing the issue–making soup and several other foods available at the meal, for family to eat whatever they please… for a couple reasons:

        1) When I was little, I remember being forced to eat something I didn’t want to, and just threw it up right there and then. That’s the only food I wont eat today.

        2) Also, my oldest son was the pickiest of my three children–turns out he is slightly autistic, very very sensitive to taste and texture (he can i.d. brand of milk in blind taste tests! And whether its organic or not!), and also suffers from anxiety. So, controlling what he ate was a way for him to cope. Rather than battle for power, putting several acceptable foods out meant he could choose from what was on the table, and I think that had the best possible results. As a 20 year old, he is still very sensitive but tries foods I recommend and finds he likes a few. Very few, as texture (beans) and tastes are still sort of “screaming” at him.
        3) Letting children grow it, choose to buy it, or cook it helps most. Also, learning about food groups and choosing items they like (helping meal plan) from each food group helps to empower them to make healthy choices.

    • This is how I’m going to approach it too. I was raised with the “you eat what’s put on your plate” approach, and I wasn’t allowed to leave the table til I had finished. (The amounts were obviously reasonable; I was never stuffed after finishing a plate and usually went for seconds) I now have a very wide taste range and am not picky at all, although I still dislike certain things, like egg salad and raw broccoli. My husband, on the other hand, was allowed to get himself other food if he didn’t like what his mom made, and he is now extremely picky and it’s frustrating to cook healthy and just cook in general b/c he’s so picky (no tomatoes, peppers, soup, squash, berries, mushrooms, avocado,etc.). I already told him I’m not allowing our kids to eat something other than what I give them and he’ll have to eat it too to set a good example.

  15. Thank you so much for this! My youngest has so few foods that he will eat and like yourself, we have tried many approaches. Your balanced and realistic approach seems so practical and doable. I really appreciate your sharing this with us all.

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