How to Get a Picky Child to Eat Healthy

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The battle of adult versus picky child begins as soon as you both wake up in the morning. And lasts all… day… long…

Vertical image of a boy refusing to eat food in a bowl, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Your little “angels” wake up, and wander to a seat at the family table or kitchen counter. Mentally crossing your fingers and preparing for battle, you offer them some fresh fruit.

It’s something healthier than that last store-bought, sugar-encrusted blueberry jumbo muffin – the one you forgot to hide the night before – which you notice them focusing on as soon as they sit down, mouths nearly drooling.

And the screeches of discontent begin, ringing out like the deafening chirp of your alarm clock:

“I don’t like bananas… and cantaloupe is yucky! I don’t wanna eat it. I wanna eat a blueberry muffin.”

And with that, your loving act of providing a healthy start to the morning is shot down in mere seconds, with just a few loud and whining complaints.

Here we go again… Healthy Foods vs. Junk Foods Fight #789,491.

The time, however, quickly reminds you that perpetuating this argument about “Popeye and his spinach” or “how Superman grew to be so big and strong” will make your little nutrient-starved goblin late for school, and you late for work.

Blueberry muffin it is. Round 1 goes to the kid.

And so, the fight takes a pause. At least until dinner.

So, what’s a parent to do?

Clearly, this is a difficult topic with no enlightening solutions.

You know the struggle, you’ve tried various methods, and you have all of your failed attempts racing through your tired, nearly defeated mind.

Vertical image of a young girl refusing to eat raw vegetables on white plates at a table.

You’ve heard some friends claim the reason they don’t have picky eaters is because they demand their kids eat everything on their plate, or they are not allowed to leave the table.

Okay, so you try that technique. And suffer through a miserable night of your child gagging, choking, yelling, begging, crying, and dragging out the ordeal for nearly four hours.

We’re not here to offer you 100% effective solutions. We know better than that. You know better than that.

While none of the suggestions provided here are guaranteed problem-solvers for every household, the following ideas will hopefully inspire you to think and act creatively when the next mealtime approaches.

Every day is a new opportunity to experiment with a different strategy, a new recipe, or introducing just one single new food item.

Be patient, be persistent, be perseverant – and one of these helpful tips might actually stick!

Be Stealthy with Purees

Sometimes, being a health food advocate on behalf of your own children absolutely needs to be a covert mission.

Horizontal image of attempting to feed a young toddler at the dinner table.

The following are some sneaky ways to deliver a nutritional sucker-punch to even the pickiest of eaters.

Whether you are making smoothies or spaghetti, soup or salad dressing, make the attempt to secretly sneak some fresh fruit or vegetable purees into these recipes.

The puree method works with greens, carrots, blueberries, sweet potatoes, beets, squash, zucchini, bananas, and any other fruits or veggies that do not have strong, pronounced flavors.

Just add a cup or two of your chosen fruit or vegetable, raw or cooked depending on the produce you have chosen, to a high-powered blender along with a couple tablespoons of water. Simply puree this mixture until it’s very smooth, adjusting the consistency as needed with more water.

With harder, raw items like various types of squash or sweet potatoes, make the puree after you have cooked your produce. We have tutorials on making pumpkin puree as well as other types of squash purees.

This mixture will blend seamlessly into so many dishes, and the smooth consistency is not a threatening texture your child may find off-putting.

You – and your kids – won’t taste the difference! Many of your child’s meals can be altered in this way, without the kids even batting an eye.

Horizontal image of a boy refusing the plate of food his father offers him in the kitchen.

You can sneak a little puree into pancakes, quick breads, breakfast muffins, and brownies.

Just be careful not to add too much – you don’t want to alter the flavor of said food item to an extreme amount, to the point where your child will notice.

And if your children expect their meal to be a certain color, you’ll also have to strategize so the color of the puree will either match or be hidden by the food.

Their favorite vibrantly colored mixed berry smoothie will easily hide a little beet puree!

Is your kid begging for brownies? Take advantage of the deep color and strong chocolate flavor by sneaking in some sweet potato or spinach puree.

A word of advice: it may behoove you NOT to let your kids see you making these items. Do not tell them of any healthy additions, switched ingredients, vegetable purees, and never ever ever mention spinach.

In fact, you may have to outright deny it if confronted. You are, after all, simply doing what is best for your unsuspecting little eating machines!

As long as you proceed carefully and strategically with this operation, your kids will be none the wiser!

Manipulate Textures

Understanding and manipulating the texture of food will also help to make it more appealing and likely to be consumed.

Horizontal image of a young girl refusing to have breakfast at the table with her mother.

Let’s talk tomatoes, as a perfect example!

While these nutritional gems make a fantastic ingredient in a child’s immunity-building culinary arsenal, their texture can be a big foe for a finicky child.

Many children actually enjoy the taste of tomato products – you’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly your nine-year-old inhaled that pizza, or bowl of pasta with tomato sauce!

But you may have noticed that they only like pizza from a particular place, a particular restaurant, or the one very particular way you made it at home that one time when you cooked dinner a few weeks ago.

And the reason why is understandable. More often than not, kids tend to dislike the seemingly slimy texture of coarsely chopped or stewed tomatoes.

Recognize the patterns, and take mental notes of the few pizzerias or restaurants around the area that you can rely on for consistent products your child likes.Image of a Stonewall Kitchen's Basil Marinara Sauce in a jar.

Organic Basil Marinara, 19.75 ounces, available from Stonewall Kitchen

While you’re shopping at the grocery store, make sure you buy tomato sauces made with natural ingredients and no added sugars. Try this organic basil marinara sauce, available from Stonewall Kitchen.

If you like to make your sauces from scratch, or if you discover that your store-bought sauce has some chunks in it, all you need to do is pulse the tomatoes or the sauce in the food processor for a few seconds, or get out your immersion blender.

You will instantly eliminate the “gross-out factor” texture of the tomatoes so you can continue cooking.

Another example of texture manipulation is to keep certain foods and liquids separate from each other.

Your child may be avoiding foods on their plate or in their bowl simply because they are touching each other, and causing – according to your picky eater – an irreversibly disgusting textural and/or taste change.

U.S. Acrylic 3-Compartment Divided Plastic Kids Tray, set of 12, available on Amazon

Does your finicky lil’ one get fussy when a bowl of cereal becomes a soggy, soppy mess? The next time you serve breakfast, keep the cereal in one bowl, and the milk in a separate cup.

For lunches, dinners, and snacks, use compartmentalized plates, like these colorful U.S. Acrylic plates available on Amazon, that will safely keep each food item physically separated on the same plate.

Harness Whole Grain Power

Another easy alteration to add some nutrients to your kiddo’s meals is to upgrade your grains. This transition to more fiber-rich products can be painless with the right substitutions.

Horizontal image of a boy refusing a sandwich on a plate.

Consider transitioning from white rice to brown rice, rather than choosing a more extreme option in both appearance and flavor like wild rice or black rice.

Choose a brown rice variety that your child may already recognize, like jasmine rice.

Lundberg Family Farms Organic Brown Jasmine Rice, available on Amazon

This organic brown jasmine rice from Lundberg Family Farms has a light scent and a sweet, buttery flavor – and it may have great potential in your home to feed the mouths of hungry babes! You can buy a bag now on Amazon.

You can also consider buying whole wheat or other enriched pastas.

Your homemade macaroni and cheese that they love so much will finally boast a little added nutrition, which will be difficult to notice among even the most discerning of picky eaters when the pasta’s covered in a creamy, dreamy cheese sauce!

Another solution is to buy pre-sliced whole wheat bread for sandwiches.

When kids do not have any white bread available as an option, the struggle may end quickly, especially when you’re still using their favorite creamy peanut butter and grape jelly as the sandwich fillers.

Compromise, compromise, compromise.

Be sure to buy whole wheat bread that doesn’t contain any wheat berries or other chunky grains. Remember – kids tend to be more bothered by textures, rather than taste alone.

Speaking of bread, do you like to bake at home?

Consider swapping out a percentage of all-purpose white flour with some whole wheat flour! Start with using 20 to 30% whole wheat flour in a recipe – any more in a given recipe may alter the texture and success of the bake.

Image of King Arthur Baking Company's Stone-Ground White Whole Wheat Flour.

Stone-Ground White Whole Wheat Flour, 5 pounds, available from King Arthur Baking Company

King Arthur Baking Company has an expansive line of flours to use in your baked goods. As a subtle transition to baking with whole wheat, buy their stone-ground white whole wheat flour, which has a similar gluten content to their all-purpose flour.

Need more guidance? Bake some of our tasty recipes featuring alternative flours! You’ll love our crazy-good whole grain chocolate cake for birthday parties, these buckwheat chocolate chip cookies for an after-dinner sweet treat, and our whole grain buttermilk pancakes for a breakfast no child would refuse.

Find – Or Make – Similar Alternatives

Now, think of foods your kids would jump up and down in the grocery store aisle begging you for – the ones for which they promise to be good forever, if you’ll just buy them.

Horizontal image of a young boy with his hand over his mouth as his mother tries to feed him.

That list of fat-laden, artificially colored, sugary treats includes but is not limited to: popsicles, cakes, cookies, fruit snacks, crunchy candies, bacon, donuts, gum, chocolates, and on and on..

Instead of your knee-jerk reaction of denying them these junk food pleasures, give them the next best thing with some healthier alternatives.

You can explore the grocery aisles for alternative sweet treats, drinks, and crunchy snacks – there really are so many healthy options available!

For ice pops, you can make them completely from scratch in your children’s favorite flavors. It’s so easy to do, with naturally sweet and fruity results, when you follow our recipe for homemade ice pops!

Your kids will love these refreshing summertime treats, and you’ll be so glad you had the opportunity to pack some healthy stuff into them.

Pureed fruit is an easy go-to option for homemade popsicles, but yogurt is also an excellent healthy alternative. And we have a delicious, kid-friendly recipe you can try featuring granola and blueberries.

Now, onto the fruit snacks – those misleading, gummy, cartoon-shaped, cavity-creators! They are shameless impostors, candy posing as fruit!

We have alternatives for you to consider that both you and your kids will enjoy eating!

First, grab some healthier fruit snacks, strips, or leathers at the store. Available in multiple flavors, all-fruit snacks are made of real fruit with no added sugars, so they are nutritionally superior to their gummy cousins. Try this mixed berry variety pack from Bob Snail, available now on Amazon.

Better yet, you can make your own using a dehydrator or oven set to a low temperature. Our recipe for dried mango-strawberry fruit rolls is a great starting point, and you can feel free to experiment with other fruits your child prefers.

Do your kids love munching on salty snacks? Bake a batch of our homemade cheese crackers, with no risk at all If they are immediately rejected by your kin – seriously, just hoard them all for yourself. You deserve it.

For other snack options, take a look at’s full selection of unique goodies. Buy a bunch to keep in your pantry!

These new implementations, and fun recipes, may take away the stress of preparing meals and lunch boxes. Don’t forget to review our full roundup of healthy snack recipes – try one, or try them all!

Keep Pushing Forward

For all the parents who have tried every method under the sun and still can’t get your child to eat anything other than PB&J, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and the occasional apple slice or two:

Take a deep breath and remember… at least they are still eating something.

Horizontal image of a cranky child sitting at the table with a red bowl.

You are doing the best you can to ensure that there is good food available, and a nurturing home, to encourage a safe and explorative environment for when they are ready to step outside their safe comfort zone of typically consumed food items.

Just continue being the supportive – and patient – guardians you are, going above and beyond to sustain their growing bodies, so that they will continue on the path to becoming healthy tweens, teens, and adults.

Who will grow out of their picky tendencies. Hopefully.

You can at least buy some sweet vitamin gummies for extra insurance, and let them drink that half gallon of milk like it’s going out of style. At least then there will be some relief on your end that most of their basic nutritional needs will be satisfied!

With some creativity and nutritional know-how, you might be able to turn your children’s complaints into compliments, and bask in the glow of your new secret power.

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies and other healthy foods? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!

Looking for even more advice to keep the whole household full, happy, and healthy? Read these informational articles the next time you need some culinary help with the kiddos:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 15, 2014. Last updated on February 2, 2023. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

49 thoughts on “How to Get a Picky Child to Eat Healthy”

  1. I must commend you on your wealthy use of wit and disguise…it really takes a shrewd mother to hold the eating fort down at the dinner table…am in utter awe of the tricks up your sleeve…am borrowing a leaf of this, i used to be a stubborn, picky eater{when young} and mom told me the day i get my own, they’ll be the same way, i better brace myself {oh, why did she ever say that 🙁 }..thank God for 🙂

  2. You have a lot of great suggestions for “hiding” vegetables. I already do some of these (particularly the spinach puree in smoothies). One great way to make a “donut” alternative is to take a great muffin recipe and bake it in a mini bundt cake pan. My kids LOVE “donuts” made this way. I need to increase the variety of purees I include, definitely want to use more beets. I have planned for a while on making beet pancakes (so pretty!), this post reminded me of that plan. I don’t really like hiding vegetables from my kids, so I also put vegetables on their plates. My requirement is to look, touch, and taste, but they don’t actually have to consume any.

  3. I love tricking my children into eating things that are good for them! You absolutely have the right idea. The blender is my best friend sometimes. I make a lot of breads and muffins and “hide” good things inside. It used to bother me years ago to trick my older kids into eating healthy but now I find it essential because otherwise my youngest son wouldn’t touch a vegetable with a ten foot pole. It never ceases to amaze me how my children will flat out refuse to try something when I offer it but later try it on their own and love it. I really do think they’re just trying to drive me insane. It’s working! Thank you so much for the great tips.

  4. When mine were super little and wouldn’t eat veggies, I’d boil up a bunch of carrots and cauliflower every time I made spaghetti sauce. When they were soft, I’d drain them and put them in the blender. I’d add it right into my spaghetti sauce, and no one was ever the wiser. Until now!

    I don’t need to do that anymore, thankfully. Later I learned to just keep serving the veggies, regardless. They’d eventually get curious when everyone would say how good the Brussels sprouts were and end up trying them again for themselves.

  5. I love the article and I feel you Lynne as a parent in here. I am soon-to-be supermom! With the incredible secret tips above, I now have the idea on how my kids would enjoy the without worrying on calories and all. Thanks for this friendly guide and I should have to bookmark it!

  6. I already use some of these tricks but others are completely new to me. Very sneaky! A lot of them can be used with adults too…to cut calories in a meal or get adult picky eaters (I know far too many) to eat some healthier foods too. Turkey bacon and whole wheat bread are options people usually don’t mind.

    Your post has reminded me of some snacks I don’t normally buy. Fruit leathers and fruit popsicles are great treats to pack for a picnic…I’ll pick up some the next time I’m at the store 🙂 Thank you!

  7. In my experience (limited to a babysitter), I did what another commenter says: the more I talk about how good they are, the more they’re curious. Kids tend to want what other people are enjoying, so especially if I throw in a “Oh, are you going to eat that? I’ll eat them!” they’ll try to hoard it for themselves. Bam, broccoli in the belly.

    • That’s the only way that I can get my niece to eat healthy most of the time. When she comes over to visit I try my best to make tasty food for her, but I do try to make it healthy as well. I love lima beans and she refused to eat them until I told her that they were the “best things in the entire world”, she tried a few and she eats them all the time now. Score!

  8. My mom used to make fruit leather and it was AMAZING. She bought fruit rollups a few times afterwards, but my sister and I preferred the homemade fruit leather. It was real fruit and the flavor was always good and intense. My mom liked to make her own because she could decide what were consuming.

    My parents also switched the pasta that we ate in small increments. She told me this when I got older and it really surprised me. I only eat whole wheat pasta now, and I have since I was a kid. She did started with 1/4 whole wheat and 3/4 regular pasta, and slowly increased the whole wheat as she decreased the regular pasta portions. It worked well for us. I don’t think it tastes any different.

    • Oh fruit leathers…those take me back. It is kind of weird though, because this was more of the making a college kid eat healthy thing for me and not so much a younger kid, but oh well. I was a picky eater then and I still am now, although I would like to think that I am getting better. Fruit leathers are delicious though, and a good way to get the kids’ attention.

  9. I love the smoothie idea and sneaking in vegetables. When I cook for my sister’s kids, I sneak in a lot of vegetables into their spaghetti and meatballs. The key is not overcook the vegetables. I realized they did not like to eat vegetables because every time my sister cooks, the vegetables were overcooked or boiled to death. For the spaghetti, I pan fry zucchini and green beans with butter and set it aside, and then add it in to the pan when finishing the pasta in a pan. I don’t know about other kids, but they like to eat brussel sprouts that have been lightly charred with butter and lots of garlic.

  10. I love how much humor you infuse into this! My boyfriend dislikes many fruits and always eats gummy bears… Many of his “yucks” (mushrooms!) come from the fact that his mom always cooked mushrooms from cans. I’d be yucked out too. Luckily, my boyfriend still loves veggies.

    I think whole wheat pasta has a very bad and grainy texture. I bought them a few times, mixing them with my normal pasta to make the transition better, and it was not really working out for me. I love the idea to puree stuff! When I want to make kids eat veggies, I just dice a lot of them (carrots, bell peppers, celery, onions, etc) and put them in a meatloaf or in meatballs. They never refuse that,

    For a donut treat, let’s not forget apple rings! Some slices of apple in some fried dough, the dough can probably be made with whole wheat, even. Sprinkle a bit of sugar and cinnamon. YUMMY. Also works for bananas.

  11. Until I was about 19 I was a very fussy eater. I rejected most vegetables, eggs, and meats. It wasn’t until I really starting cooking myself and experimenting with different flavors when I found I actually liked different foods. Now in my mid 20s I’m comfortable eating most foods, I still don’t eat a variety of vegetables in seafood. I feel that if my parents introduced me to more foods at a younger age and encouraged me more to try things I would have enjoyed food growing up a lot more.

  12. I love this idea of being sneaky to get them to eat. My mom lucked out with me I ate almost everything other than Brussels sprouts, to this day I won’t eat them. We grew up on a farm so this is all we ate all the time. A big home cooked meal with vegetables every night.

  13. I hated vegetables as a child and only started eating them when I went to college and began cooking them for myself. Turns out that Mom was overcooking them far too much, so it’s no wonder I would refuse to eat them!

  14. These are great tips. I’ve done a lot of these things with my son and he eats quite a few fruits and veggies because of this. It does upset me though that I have to camouflage things. Like my son balks at broccoli but if I make it into a soup with cheese on it he’ll eat it just fine.

    I try to introduce him to as many different foods as possible. He does okay but still will always prefer straight carbs like pizza, pasta, waffles, etc. But I just hope that when he’s older he’ll have a healthy diet from the variety of foods he’s tried now.

  15. Thank you so much for this post! My daughter is two, and she is the most picky eater. Though I suppose she gets it from me; oops! I will be trying some of these tips as soon as possible.

  16. Thanks for this lighthearted look at what can be a pretty stressful phase. It helps being able to laugh at it a little and know we are not alone!

    Our current method at mealtime is a compromise, but it’s been working fairly well. When we see that a certain item (or sometimes entire meal!) isn’t being well received, we set a number of bites that need to be eaten. “You don’t have to eat it all, but you do have to eat five bites.” Then we count them on our hands and make a big deal out of the accomplishment. It does monopolize the meal a bit, but the complaining and arguing would have anyway… So it becomes a positive interaction, and gives our child something to feel proud of himself about.

  17. Every week I make a high fiber cookie or muffing to make sure everyone in the house has fiber to keep them moving regularly. If it was feed to them as a meal it would not get eaten.

    I add apples, oatmeal and a cereal that is 5 grams of fiber or more per meal to the mix.

    They are eaten with no one the wiser.

  18. I understand the reasoning behind ‘hiding’ vegetables in a child’s food but I am really not behind this technique. I don’t hate the idea it’s just not my cup of tea. I prefer making the food they hate fun.

    Cutting out designs & characters reeeeally helps the journey from eyes to mouth. Are you aware of Bento boxes? I have been doing this for years & I swear my kids eat like 30 year old vegetarian lawyers =P. Here’s something I never thought I would hear my daughter say: Ma, can you put more radishes in there? Fun shapes & having them participate in the construction of meals has made getting them to eat healthy a lot easier.

    • I hear you and I must say you have it easy with your kids. Even thought the shape maybe alter like the author has mention its the textures that gets the better of most kids. I was one of them and it took me a l-o-n-g time to get over tomatoes. It was very painful to eat salad my mom would make with tomato. I remember siting there and picking at it for hours. I’m not disagreeing with you – those bento box are the boom – but some kids are far more pickier than other and just altering the shape may not be enough. 🙂

  19. Haha sneaking veggies into food is the best way to get them to eat it without realizing. Once they know that you are trying to feed them veggies, they’ll want to bargain with you. I’ll eat this amount of veggies if I get to play 2 hours etc. It’s so wrong of them to do that but they’re so sneaky about it! They even know it because they have a naughty grin on their face.

  20. Although I do think some of these techniques are pretty clever, I don’t think they’re necessary. Why would you wanna give positive reinforcement for being a picky eater?? At my house, if you didn’t wanna eat what was made, you could cook for yourself or wait until the next meal

  21. Yeah, at that age kids can be really exhausting. One thing that really worked well for me in getting my daughter’s attention was that I would eat her food and make yummy noises without paying her any attention. She would then quickly notice and start begging. Then I would pretend to ignore her for little while and eat some more. Then by the time she really wants it we eat together. Sometimes when I don’t eat with her and the food isn’t particularly tasty she loses interest, but when I do I can usually get her to finish the whole thing. the important thing is to get them used to the right taste–meaning that you probably shouldn’t feed them anything that would blow their minds yet like mac and cheese and pudding. It’s a little restrictive but once you get them into the habit of eating healthy and get them used to the taste of healthy food, you can pretty much feed them anything and not worry about upsetting their diet.

  22. I have heard of sneaking pureed veggies into brownies. That’s something I should try.

    I bought that Fusion fruit juice that’s supposed to have a serving of vegetables in every glass and used it to make freeze pops. That works well. The V8 Splash doesn’t actually have a full serving nor is it 100% juice. I could have sworn that it was at one time. Either way, the Fusion claims to get some veggies into your kid, so I buy it for my picky child. I introduced it through freeze pops though, since once she saw the label she didn’t want to try it.

    Nice tips! I’ll have to see what else I can incorporate.

  23. Great article and ideas! It describes my life except i have a 2 and a half year old not a 6 year old. Meal time is always a struggle for us, my sons favorite meals consist of burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, and waffles. Eggs have recently been added to the mix as well which made me a bit too happy.Adding the vegetables to those whether it be spinach- ketchup or carrot – marinara sounds like a great way to ensure he is getting the nutrients he needs without me spending hours attempting t et him to try any food he has a preconceived notion that he will not like it. Gummies are of course a major issue in our house but for my son I’m not sure fruit leather would work unless i find a way to make them into cute shapes (cookie cutters perhaps ?) I think it is time I conduct an undercover veggie operation of my own!

  24. This article reminds me of when I was a kid. One night we had peas. I hate peas (still do, but will eat them if they are with other stuff.) I was not allowed to get up from the table until the peas were gone, so I put them in my mouth but refused to chew or swallow. Hour later, in the bath, I still had those danged ‘ole peas in my mouth!

    I really like your recipe for homemade popsicles. I bought some a few years ago but just filled with fruit juice and they were OK, but not very exciting. I think I’ll have to pull them out again and try again this summer with your recipe.

    As for donuts, for Christmas I got a couple donut pans. Now I can make cake donuts at home and make them healthy with whole wheat flour, etc. I’m really enjoying reading your blog!

  25. My rule has always been that they have to try everything on their plate. If they truly don’t like it after giving it a fair try, then they are off the hook. Also, they get a treat if they clean their plate. I very rarely give out junk food so the “treats” normally come in the form of a fruit product like applesauce.

  26. I think that the most important thing is how you prepare your food! I always try to mix vegetables and fruits in healthy snacks for my kid. That way, he doesn’t even know he is eating healthy and at the same time he really enjoys it.

  27. I cant thank you enough for this article! My daughter used to be such a good eater, I would at times brag about how well she eats and then one day she woke up and that was it, she’s the pickiest kid I’ve ever seen! She refuses to eat fruits unless its an orange and vegetables is not even an option with her. I have always wanted to try hiding vegetables into her food but never really knew how to without her tasting and knowing what I’ve done. I’m definitely going to try these tricks out this weekend!!

  28. Haha, my parents got lucky with me, I was mostly a naturally healthy eater (well, aside from the sweet tooth…). There were very few fruits and veggies I flat out refused to eat. But I could see how sneaking in veggies and other nutritious eats would be effective with a very picky eater. I really like the idea of making food visually appealing too.

  29. Now talk about a hard-working mom! Very well written article! I can relate to this myself as I was this child back then as well. My mom would tell me to eat this or finish all your food. My excuses would simply be “I don’t like it” or “I’m so full!”. But I never recall her taking measures like these to force me to receive my nutrients. But the good thing was I never ate much junk food as a kid and drank tons of milk so I think nutrition wasn’t really a problem for me. Eventually as I grew up, I naturally became less picky and was willing to try new things. It’s really a normal process for kids to experience this, but once they grow up, they’ll eat anything you throw at them! When I was growing and going through puberty, I remember finishing everything at the dinner table and going 3 trips to the rice cooker to get more rice. Once your child starts growing, he can’t stop eating even if you told him to!

  30. The only healthy things my 3 year old likes are bananas, carrots, lettuce, grapes and apples. She’ll eat ham or turkey sandwiches too. We do use the whole wheat bread sometimes. I saw a blog about making smoothies in the blender and as long as you make it taste sweet you can put just abut anything in there. I need to try that but even then I think she’d be picky.

  31. These ideas are great for disguising healthy foods. I will share these with my family and friends who have picky eaters. I don’t, my son eats almost everything and he loves vegetables. The dinner table can turn into a battleground if you cannot find a way to compromise. It can be awful.

  32. Thank you so much for this article, I teach cooking classes in several kindergartens and the kids there are so picky! I couldn’t believe that some of them don’t like bananas and stuff like that! This article will help a lot, I think:)

  33. This is truly the genius way of doing things. I don’t have a picky eater because I have never allowed this. You eat what you get has always been my motto and after that I have not paid too much attention. All the food has always been eaten and my children love vegetables.

  34. This tips are the greatest so far. I hated veggies when i was little because my mum used to overcook them. Sometimes she forced us to eat them. Now i know the little secret behind a good vegetable meal. Thanks for the information.

  35. Overly picky eaters among children are often the result of adults that believe stereo-types about what kids will eat. Children that are exposed to a variety of foods without the prejudice of other peoples tastes are rarely picky.

  36. I followed the tips in this article and noticed a change in the way my younger son had his meals. Just came back to say thank you for the information.

  37. I love all of the suggestions you have mentioned. Sometimes I won’t eat something because of texture as well ( like chopped tomatoes). I do believe in that it just takes time for a child to develop a more sophisticated palate. I was the same way and now I eat more types if vegetables. Great job in “sneaking” in the veggies.

  38. Something that I have used to help my kids want to eat vegetables and fruit is a garden. We plant the seeds, watch them sprout, take care of the plants, and harvest. They have eaten broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, radish, carrots, tomatoes, and many more. The idea that they picked them has been an opportunity for them to try the food. Although it does not always become a favorite, I feel like my kids are more open to trying new things.

  39. I totally should have bookmarked this page when I saw it before. I’m glad I came across it again. My youngest is incredibly finicky.

    I forgot all about the diced tomatoes tip. I need to remember that one so I don’t have to alter my recipes.

    Shopping day is going to be tomorrow, so I’m adding some of these to my list. She is getting some more nutritious stuff and that’s that.

  40. This was really helpful! Tricking children to eat healthy foods is actually easy if you just put some thought in it. There is not actually any use in trying to force a kid to eat something that will turn into a nightmare – it may lead up to a child trying to avoid meal-time, driving the child eating bad foods when they grow up. Eating should be a pleasant moment for the whole family, not a forced event that ends up being a battlefield. Trying to make foods look delicious (making shapes out of food and such) can make children interested in what there would be in next meal. You can make shapes out of some vegetables and your child won’t even notice what he/she ate!

  41. This article is so helpful! I have a four year old who wont eat anything that even looks healthy its been so hard! She wont eat fruits or veggies! I find if I hide these foods into her meals she doesn’t really notice them and she’s happy enough eating it so its a win win for everyone.

  42. Really interesting ideas.

    As a working babysitter I always try to think back how our parents taught us to eat everything.
    I remember that we did not have any snacks around the house (like chips or soda, or candy). Chocolate was only around at birthdays or bigger holidays.

    Me and my brother really like vegetables as snack when we were little.
    Of course there are plenty things the kids just hate, I never wanted eat meat and became a vegetarian later. And my brother still hates beans 🙂

  43. These are some good ideas, although I wasn’t looking for my kids because I don’t have any; I was looking for my boyfriend. He’s a very picky eater who hates the texture of vegetables and doesn’t like many fruits (the only ones he likes are grapes and strawberries). So it’s hard to get him to eat healthy. In fact, the only time I’ve been able to get him to eat lettuce was when he was drunk! Haha. However, I’m constantly trying to trick him with healthier alternatives such as turkey bacon instead of pork bacon, vegan meat crumbles on taco night, and putting cheese on top of steamed broccoli. All of these things seem to work, and he’s a fan of wheat bread, but I definitely need more help in getting him to eat healthier.

  44. While I admire your tenacity and imagination I do think that you are at risk of pandering to a child and reinforcing picky eating behaviour. Put what you know to be healthy food in front of them without going to all the extra work – if they don’t eat it, fine. Let them go to school hungry. It will only happen a few times before they eat what the rest of the family eats.

  45. I actually just watched an episode of Shark Tank and one of the products was a food shaper thing (I know that is not the name of it) and it was designed for this exact purpose. I have to say, too, that it was pretty simple but pretty genius at the same time. It just took foods that kids may not eat, and it turns them into edible little shapes, like fruit snacks. You could pick the shape and then use it on whatever, within reason of course. Anyways, I just thought it was pretty neat and might help a lot of people out there. Thanks for sharing.


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