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25 Quick Tips to Overcome Picky Eating Behavior Barriers

Updated: Sep 10, 2023


Three children sitting at the table waiting for dinner and not looking pleased about it

Are you frustrated with the picky eating behavior of your kids? Having raised and transformed two very picky eaters myself, I understand how overwhelming it can be to try to get our kids to branch out from their familiar foods and try something new. Let's face it, it's exhausting!


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Here's a tip list packed full of useful ideas to support you in your feeding goals for your selective and adventurous eaters alike. Don't let it scare you. If you're already doing some of these things, great! If you can add in one or two new ideas at a time, that's the way to go to keep building on your success of transforming your picky eater into a brave taster and better eater.


25 Tips to Help with Picky Eating Behavior


1. Structure settings to promote healthy eating habits. Keep healthy choices available in the pantry, refrigerator, and when traveling.


2. Help your child develop a taste for healthy foods at a young age. Broaden his or her palate with new flavors and textures.


3. Set a good example by enjoying nutritious snacks, eating at the table, and avoiding skipping meals.

4. Make simple menu plans to prevent mealtime stress.


5. Keep a regular schedule for meals and snacks so that kids know food is available for them at certain times of the day.


A little girl in the store carrying a shopping basket and reaching for a bag of candy

6. Offer 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks a day. It's not uncommon for very young children to sometimes want to skip meals.


7. Teach kids to recognize their own cues for hunger and fullness by not forcing them to eat. This way they'll be less likely to develop overeating patterns. Do establish boundaries, refraining from allowing them to eat on demand all day.


8. Kids are asserting their independence when refusing foods. Give them some sense of control by allowing them to make choices from the served foods on their plate at mealtime.


9. Timing is important. Offer a new food when your child is hungry and rested. Limit drinks and snacks before meals.


10. Offer one new food at a time. Serving several new foods at once can be really overwhelming for kids.


11. Offer a new food with familiar favorites so that your child may be more tempted to try the new food.


12. Visit a farm or farmer’s market. Kids can help to choose the fruits and veggies here or at the grocery store. Have them choose the reddest apple or the biggest bunch of broccoli.


A mother helping her daughter use a kid chef knife to cut vegetables

13. Allow your kids to assist with simple food preparation as they may be more likely to try what they've helped to create. Kids can help stir, pour, and add cut veggies to create the salad bowl.


14. Add pureed, chopped or grated veggies to familiar dishes to increase food choices for your kids.


15. Keep a ‘rainbow on their plate’ by serving colorful vegetables and fruits with every meal.


16. Make it fun! Present familiar foods in different shapes and arrange colorful foods on a plate. This helps kids to try new and old foods prepared in different ways.


17. Small children enjoy foods that are ‘their size’. Bite-sized food pieces, finger foods, as well as smaller portions help to create kid-friendly meals.


18. Let your kids explore the new food. They can look at it, touch it, smell it, and eventually give it a try. Younger children can be offered a few bites during feeding, while older children can be asked to try "one bite to be polite".


19. To make a new food more appealing, give it a fun name like ‘superhero spinach’ or use a child’s favorite character name.


20. Get creative! Have a ‘salad bar’ or a ‘picnic’ at mealtime. Use fun plates, napkins, or food themes.


Two teen boys making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

21. Try not to use food as a reward for kids, so they don't develop an unhealthy pattern for coping with stress. Kids can be rewarded for eating new foods with praise, sticker charts, and other helpful incentives.


22. Choose a variety of healthy foods to offer at mealtime, and kids will learn to eat what is available to them. If their favorite snack isn’t nutritious, you can choose to buy it occasionally (or while transitioning to healthier eating choices) and you can redefine their choice as a treat instead of a snack.


23. Teach kids early about healthy eating. Books such as ‘Eat Healthy, Feel Great’ can be read to preschool children to help support good eating habits.


24. Keep trying! It may take several attempts before your child tries and decides whether or not he likes a new food. The more he sees it, the more likely he will be to try it. Presenting the new food 1-2 times a week helps the food to become familiar, but not too frequent.


25. Check with your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s individual nutritional status.


Best wishes,

Coach Patty


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Get the Build a Better Eater short go-to book packed with information on the 'Why' behind picky eating and the 'How To' plan to finally transform your picky eater!


All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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