5 Healthy Eating Strategies for Picky Eaters

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Don’t you feel frustrated reading how easy it’s supposed to be to get your picky eater kids to like healthy foods?

It’s not easy. Not for some kids.

With my first baby, I slaved over the hot stove, cooking organic vegetables into a puree to freeze for baby food. And the kid ate everything.

Until about age 2.

When she became a cracker-itarian.

It’s been a challenge ever since. (Her Sensory Processing factors into this big time.)

Those books that said she’d if she got hungry enough. They were wrong. A few years ago, she refused to eat anything but ice cream — which I didn’t give her — and she didn’t eat– not for three days.

Guess who caved?

Not her.


And I vowed that food would never be a battle ever again. I never want any power struggles over food because I know eating disorders are more about control than they are about weight.

(Of course, I did stop buying ice cream.)

But, there is hope. I have found some strategies that have worked for her and my other daughter. Which I want to share with you. Because it’s not easy for some kids. (And not for lack of us clean eating parents trying everything!)

5 healthy eating strategies for picky eaters

Knowledge Helps Picky Eaters

1. Food Plate Lunches
Introduce the food plate to help kids learn about what food groups they should be eating.
shopping for healthy foods

2. Kids Pick New Recipes
I’m always trying to entice my kids with new recipes and cookbooks. I’ll admit that my kids mostly pick cupcakes and cookies but at least it’s a start.

However, we’ve recently branched out into smoothies after buying the (life-changing!?) VitaMix. It’s so awesome — and my kids are expert smoothie makers now. In fact, my oldest daughter has written her own smoothie recipe cookbook.

Baby steps, friends. Baby steps.

Oh, and we find the iPad to be a great, portable tool for new recipes, looking at sites like the Whole Foods Kid Friendly Healthy Eating blog and the PBS Kitchen Explorers site.

3. Know Ingredients & Read Labels
Did you know that Subway bread contains ingredients banned in other countries? One of my new favorite blogs, Food Babe, gives you the (scary) scoop. After we read this information, my kids never wanted to eat at Subway again.

Same with food dyes. No more begging for colorful sugar cereals once my kids discovered the horrifying truth about food dyes. Whoa. I’m glad I told them.

Now, my oldest daughter follows my example of reading the ingredients list — on everything. When there are more than 5 ingredients, and she doesn’t even know what the words are, she knows it’s probably a food to skip.

Information about nutrition makes a difference in behaviors!

read food labels and ingredients

4. Positive Influences from PBS Kids and Whole Foods
It’s so weird to hear my kids say they learned about cooking a turkey from Curious George. Only we know that the television shows our kids watch do influence them — that information goes somewhere so we want those shows to be positive.


PEG + CAT is a super cute (and educational!) forthcoming PBS Kids series for preschool math and problem solving skills which launches October 7. (Get excited – it’s really fun!) The PEG + CAT duo want to help kids think about healthy eating which is why there are some free, yummilicious activities for you to download and do with your kids. You’ll find all of these activities on the PBS Kids Healthy Kids page.

5. Shop Together
Although I prefer shopping without my kids — it’s so quiet and relaxing (take it where you can get it, right?) –I do drag them along to the store every week to help me pick out foods, talk about what we discover, and find new foods to try.
trying new foods

But . . .

these strategies are working for us, yay! They might not for your family. Try them and see then let me know.

You probably have some helpful tips of your own — will you share those in the comments, please? How do you get your picky eaters to eat healthy foods?


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  1. Great tips! Love how you’re involving your kids from start to finish. Another strategy is to integrate ingredients your kids enjoy with something new. For example: do they dislike tofu but love sesame seeds? Make tofu bites rolled is toasted sesame. Keep it up the great work of getting your kids in the kitchen!