Cartoon raccoon pouting over a plate of vegetables

5 Tips for Cooking with a Picky Eater that will change the way you cook with kids.

Are you struggling to feed a picky eater? Never the less, any parent who has little kids knows the struggle. Even though it can be challenging make sure children get the nutrition they need when they’re only interested in a limited selection of foods. Fortunately, here at Gourmet Gus we have 5 tips to encourage picky eaters to try new and healthy meals.

Involving Picky Eaters in the Meal Planning & Cooking Process
Make Food Fun!
Don’t give up on new foods
Be a good role model
Don’t force it

Involving Picky Eaters in the Cooking process

Kids being part of in the meal planning and cooking process encourages picky eaters to try new foods and the healthy meals and nutrition they need. Albeit, kids at the grocery store is tough, let them join you and pick out fruits and veggies they want to try. Sticking to the outside sections of the store can encourage healthy meal choices, such as produce, dairy, and protein sections. Additionally when it’s time to cook, invite them into the kitchen to help prepare the family meal. Getting picky eaters invested in the meals with techniques such as recipe planning, shopping, and cooking increase the desire to try new foods. This is further supported by the a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and behavior.

Make Food Fun: How to feed a picky eater

Another way to encourage picky eaters to try new foods is to make eating fun experience. And cooking healthy meals is no exception. Use creative and fun activities to engage them, such as cutting food in fun shapes, creative food art, or turn trying new foods a game. Eventually, tasting new foods will be its own reward! From the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior children eat more vegetables when presented in a colorful and appealing way.

Don’t Give Up on New Foods

It can take up to 15-20 exposures to convince a picky eater to try something new. Take a second breath after that. Now, don’t give up when picky eater turns up their nose at foods. Albeit frustrating when new healthy meals are refused once, twice, or even three times it is offered. Offering in new preparations or combinations until they are ready for a first bite. Hopefully, Gourmet Gus recipes can help there. Certainly we see it backed in a study in the journal Appetite citing “repeated exposure increases a child’s liking of that food. In conclusion, don’t get discourage if they try a new food and don’t give up!

Be a good role model: Show picky eaters you enjoy healthy meals

Kids are watching, queue hearing “bad” words repeated back for months after it slipped out, eating habits are no different. Good news parents eating healthy meals similarly encourages picky eaters to follow suit. Conversely getting stuck in a rut of “I only eat” foods. picky eaters will again follow suit!

For example, I was not the most adventurous eater thanks to my mild Midwest upbringing. Though after taking an English course about food to stir a passion in me to jump into culinary school! (Not all changes are that drastic, but they could be worse). Secondly we modeled for our kids by enjoying healthy meals ourselves, then they ask to try them too. (e.g. they will not eat pizza anymore without some balsamic vinegar to dip their crust).

Again, as published in the journal Appetite, “children are more likely to try new foods when their parents model healthy eating behaviors”

Do not force a picky eater

Though it is important to encourage picky eaters to try new foods, it’s equally important not to force them. I’m not saying let kids fling their plates to the floor or throw a tantrum. There is a definite line there, but in our house the “forcing” stops at one “No Thank You Bite”. It’s a simple tool we use and it is effective. Recall it takes 15-20 exposures, so we use this…frequently! After that, forcing it can create a negative association with that food and the trust when other new foods are offered. And again, a study published in the journal Appetite found offering a “no thank you” bite can increase a child’s willingness to try new foods without pressure.

In the end Picky eaters can learn to love healthy foods

With these tips, you can help your picky eaters become food adventurers! Remember, it takes time, patience, and sometimes luck, but with a little creativity and persistence, you can turn your little ones into foodies in no time!

Looking for some recipe ideas for you picky eaters? Look no further than these 10 Easy & Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters from Gourmet Gus!

Sources used about Picky Eaters

  1. Justine W. Kavle, Anna E. Yomtovian, and Katherine E. Speirs, “The Effects of Color and Variety on Children’s Vegetable Consumption,” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 45, no. 5 (2013): 435-440.
  2. Julie A. Mennella and Catherine A. Forestell, “Children’s Dispositions to Like and Dislike the Taste of Vegetables: A Behavioural Genetic Study,” Appetite 52, no. 2 (2009): 498-504.
  3. Natasha A. Schvey, Andrew G. Rundle, and Elsie M. Taveras, “Rewarding Children for Trying Vegetables: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Appetite 117 (2017): 1-11.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top