With the Kids

Helpful Tips to Appease Picky Eaters

As a mother of 5, it’s inevitable that I will have at least ONE picky eater. And, I do. It’s bad. Bad, as in:  hates chicken nuggets, hamburgers, pizza, cheese, fruit, veggies, ketchup, mustard, pretty much everything. Really, everything.

Yes, I accept hugs from strangers.

I was browsing Redbook, the other day, and read about a study completed by The University of Bristol, where they followed 13,000 kids from infancy to age 7.  They found that picky eaters “met the same calorie and nutrient quotas as veggie-loving kids.  And there were no major differences in weight and height between the two group.  Veggies are a terrific source of folic acid, B vitamins, and calcium, but kids can also get those in fortified cereals, bananas, peaches, citrus fruits, peanuts, yogurt, cheese, milk, and orange juice.

Phew!  Permission to take a chill-pill.

Thankfully, I don’t need to fret my little heart out over my kid not loving veggies, but he has got to advance past Ramen Noodles, Mac-n-Cheese, and Spaghetti-O’s.  So, lucky for him, I’m a great nag and determined to open his mind and mouth.
The first part of my plan involves cooking together. I told him he would be making his own cookbook, so he needs to try lots of new recipes and find some he likes.  That has helped tremendously!!  Some of his recent favorites, making it into his cookbook:  Dinner Rolls, Hamburger Gravy, Buffalo Chicken Mini-Pizzas, and Taco Bowls (that he just shared on tv!)

The second part of my plan is to hold little taste-testing events. Basically, I buy several items that he doesn’t like, we do taste-testing, and he fills out a report on each item.  That’s right, I mean business.  But, really…all of the kids LOVE this!  Last month, we did cheese tasting.  My son hates cheese.  But, after this activity, he can name several types of cheese that he likes and/or will tolerate.

Yesterday, was “fruit tasting.”  Here’s the play-by-play…

I picked up several fruits that I knew he hadn’t tried before or needed to try again:  tangelo, mango, pear, plantain, kiwi, and grapefruit.
Cut them all into bite-sized pieces…
Gathered the munchkins and started tasting.  Everyone was imagining they found themselves on a deserted island and the fruit they tasted was from the ONLY fruit tree available.  Did they love it or would they rather die a miserable death by starvation?  Okay, dramatic…but, fun.
After each fruit was tasted, they had to fill out their “Food Critic Review” form…appearance, texture, taste, and rating.
So, the clear winners were plantains and pears.  The biggest loser was…grapefruit.   Being stuck on an island with only grapefruit would be certain-death for my kids.
The kids are already begging for a “fruit tasting, round 2!”  Even little Isabelle had a blast. What??  Oh, that?? Hmmm…it kinda looks like a plantain/tangelo combo and, you’re welcome.


  1. Thank you a lot for sharing this with all of us you really realize what you’re speaking approximately! Bookmarked. Please also talk over with my web site =). We will have a link trade arrangement among us

  2. I just came across this blog and was checking out past posts. I have a picky 2 year old, who has a picky mother (ha ha). I love your post, and if she stays this way, then I am totally doing this when she’s older! Lucky for me, though, she loves fruit. It was also really nice to hear that I don’t have to worry about the veggie thing as much!

  3. I am a big advocate of having kids cook with you, but I LOVE your food critic taste testing too. So brilliant and fun. Something worthwhile even if you don’t have picky eaters.

  4. I have a picky eater too and although she’s still too young (16 months) i’m going to save this article and in few months start out first test-eating events. thanks so much for sharing these useful tips.

  5. Now THIS is something I aspire to . . . being able to take a difficult situation & make it fun instead of frustrating! Thanks for the great ideas!

  6. This is a great post. Love the ideas, which I actually already knew, but it is wonderful to be reminded that it is ok take a chill pill occasionally when it comes to our picky eaters and just let them be. Thanks!

    From Kathy, a fellow mom of a child who lives on Annie’s mac n cheese.

  7. That is a fantastic idea Mariel! You are the best Mommy that I know. I get serious inspiration from you every time I read your blog. Good job:)

  8. Oh, that’s brilliant. I laughed out loud at the Ramen, Mac & Cheese and Spaghettio’s… that’s ALL my kid will eat. Well, that and bread. Thanks for sharing these great ideas. If I can pull it together, it just might work toward opening up that little mouth of his!

  9. Great ideas, Mariel! I have an extremely picky 9-year-old eater and need all the help I can get. I’d like to try the cookbook idea – maybe we’ll do that this summer. We’ve tried the food critic thing before, but since he simply refuses to eat some things (honestly, he’d rather starve) it hasn’t been very successful – for him at least. I should try it with my 5-year-old because she is braver, haha! Thanks for the tips! (btw, my kids would actually survive if they were on an island with only grapefruit – that is one thing that they both LOVE. They won’t eat spaghetti or chicken pot pie, but they’ll gobble up grapefruit – go figure! :) )

  10. Plantains have intimidated me for awhile. You’ve inspires me to stop being such a chicken. Er, wimp. Wuss? Baby? Yeah. Anyway, I’m going to give them a try. Thanks for the idea!

  11. Mariel, you rock, and I would name my daughter after you, if they weren’t all already named. Perhaps I can talk one of them into changing their name.
    My son (8) is a HORRIBLE eater. I don’t know how he survives-just about all he will eat is pizza, grilled cheese, nachos and chicken nuggets. He will occasionally eat a “salad” which consists of lettuce and ranch dressing. He does drink water, though, so at least he’s got that going for him. I am going to try some of these ideas, and soon!

  12. Great ideas Mariel! We will definitely be trying some of them with the picky eater at our house!

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