My Top Two Tips for Picky Eaters

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My kids are 7 & 11, and they are OPPOSITES.

I have one defensive kid who likes bread and cake; one seeker kid who is a devout carnivore and eats raw purple onions… and chives right out of the garden.

Successfully feeding them both is an adventure!

If you have a picky eater, it may even be a grown-up.

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It’s funny what grownups bring along with them… unfamiliarity with flavors or vegetables, family prejudices or favorites…  kids or adults, I want us all to eat together and work on making that pleasant for everyone at the table.

But of course I want it to be easy on me, too!  🙂

My best tip to accommodate picky eaters is this: Keep your ingredients separated.  Soups, casseroles, sandwiches…  Most of the time, that’s all it takes. Thing 1 will eat noodles, chicken, and carrots.  But not if they are mixed together in a broth.

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Once I figured this out, it saved me so much stress and worry!

Most of the time, he’s eating the same things we are, after all.  Perhaps a little more noodles and a little less everything else, but he’s eating in each food group.  And that is progress — no more chasing him with a spoon for “one more bite.”

I have also been working on tip2: creating delicious smells for them to come home to, or to sneak up on them if we’re all at home, and asking them to smell new foods or dishes to get acquainted with them.

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The olfactory sense is an integral part of taste.  Cultivating an acquaintance and eventual pleasure of something baking in the oven or simmering in the crock pot is a hassle-free way to introduce new foods and new flavors.

Sometimes those savory aromas will convince your picky eater to try something where the foods are all touching!  Indeed, I credit the school lunch program at the little hippie private school they attended — where delicious dishes were cooked by moms from around the world — with enticing my kids into eating Indian, Russian, Asian, and Mexican flavors.

I’ll be giving a free call with more tips for picky eaters soon!  Get in the loop by following me on Facebook, following this blog, or signing up for my biweekly E-zine.  Thank you for reading, good luck!

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10 thoughts on “My Top Two Tips for Picky Eaters

  1. You make a good point and set a great solution example. We often think that with picky eaters the issue is either a lack of willingness or a taste issue. “Try it, and if you don’t like it you don’t need to have any more.” is a sentence spoken around the world at many a dinner table. But sometimes, the issue is combination of tastes, or combination of textures. I was almost 30 before I figured out that all of my food issues have to do with texture. Your approach opens our minds to observing what the issue is because picky doesn’t have just one definition.

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    • Patrice, thank you for your comment — It wasn’t long ago that I realized that a lot of foods that I don’t like are, well, LOUD! Raw carrots and celery, chips. Haha. Food is a necessity, and I really feel that we should nurture along the pleasures that come with it, rather than discipline them out of our kids. I do hope to get parents to consider textures in their feeding adventures, so that the next generation of kids don’t travel all the way to adulthood before realizing these things. 🙂

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  2. Great tips here! I love the one about keeping food separated. That bugged me at first — after all, it was all going to the same place. I eventually surrendered to it and try to keep things separate. But if I can’t, I don’t sweat it. I’m busy and there are plenty of things to eat in the house. If you don’t like what I made, head on over to the fridge and pick something else out. If it’s not too much extra work for me, I’ll prepare it for you. And then, there is always cereal … On my less busy days, I’m more likely to accommodate more. Does that sound mean?

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    • Nope! The thing is, meals have to be pleasant for everyone, even the cook! I want meals to be “funner” so whatever it takes so that everyone can eat and the cook isn’t pulling his/her hair out. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment.

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  3. Ok, I’m sending my youngest over to you. The child ate almost everything until 18 months old and it was all down hill from there. Everything needed sweet potato served on the same spoon, then no texture, and now he eats NO fruits of veggies. The only exception being my strawberry puree popsicles and thinly sliced yams tossed in oil and salt, cooked until crispy. Everything is white, or chicken and ketchup is at least two food groups. Please, help me!!!

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    • Aly, you’ve worked out some brilliant ‘cheats’ for your youngest. I do thinly sliced, tossed in oil and salt thing and call them chips. I’ve gotten them to eat carrots that way, zucchini, yellow squash, and kale. The novelty did wear off for the 11-yo after a while, but try it. I am giving a free call on feeding finicky kids soon, and I’ll be sure to let you know. I’m struggling with the techie part of it, but as soon as I get all my access points to link up, we’re on! xx Angela

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  4. Angela I love how you bring in the idea of using smell and the concept of introducing new foods. I wonder how many parents are too harried to think of the idea of letting their kids experiment with new foods and the experience of food. That alone could bring big changes to the dining table I’m sure. Let me know your call is ready. I want to support your important work and will be happy to let my peeps know about it. xoxo

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    • Mealtimes can be very sensory, and I want to drive that home… with more sensory input, there can be less discipline, I think. And, you’re on. I’m trying to work out the techie part of my free call, and then I’ll be shouting from the danged mountaintops! 🙂 Thanks for reading, and for your lovely comment. xx a

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  5. I wasn’t EVER a picky eater but my cousins? Boy howdy!

    My grandmother got around it on family dinners with a million little bowls. They would eat everything but NOT if it touched! It’s all about what works for YOUR eaters and YOUR sanity.

    And, there’s always cereal!

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    • Ha! I always attributed our big holiday dinners with a million little bowls (full of sides, yes, but with our plates, too) as a farm thing. Maybe my grandmothers were hitting two birds with one stone, as we say. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! xx a

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