How to Get a Picky Child to Eat Healthy

The daily battle usually begins with my little “angel” around 7 a.m. Droopy-eyed and half asleep, my 6-year-old wanders to the family table, and scoots into his chair.

Grouchy young boy with plate of broccoli.

When his head finally lifts from the table and his yawning subsides, the screeches of discontent ring out as inevitably as the deafening chirp of my alarm clock.

“Mommy, I don’t like bananas… and cantaloupe is yucky! I don’t want this diss-guss-teen stuff!” And with that, my loving act of providing a healthy start to his morning is shot down like a clay pigeon at a hunting convention. It is now that I resort to having “healthy foods vs. junk foods” conversation #789,491.

The clock, however, quickly reminds me that perpetuating this argument about “Popeye and his spinach” or “how Superman grew to be so big and strong” will make my little nutrient-starved complaint factory late for school, and so it ends, at least until dinner… sigh.

So, what’s a parent to do? On one side, my friends have told me that the reason they don’t have picky eaters is because they demand that their kids eat everything on their plate, or they will not leave the table.

Okay, I bought that theory for 5 minutes, and watched as my son gagged, choked, cried, and dragged out the ordeal for three and a half hours. (A miserable night for us both.)

On the flip side, parenting advice columns are ringing in my conscience that “forcing” my child to eat, and making mealtime a constant struggle, will only serve to make an anxious bulimic or emotional over-eater out of the little guy.

Clearly, a compromise between these two extremes is the answer. After all, I remember the childhood trauma of being forced to eat things I did not like (which were few) and the aversion those traumas gave me towards foods in my adult life (though I doubt I’d be a huge fan of cow tongue or liver and onions today anyways).

I also considered that maybe my son would eventually, like myself, grow to enjoy certain tastes – onions, mushrooms, and hopefully veggies – instead of being doomed to a bachelorhood highlighted by growing roots into his La-Z-Boy, and glistening from the trans fat on his potato chip-covered chin.

Unhealthy young man on couch with junk food | Foodal.com
“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” – Dean Wormer

In the meantime, I decided that being a health food advocate would have to be a covert mission from here on out… Thus, “Operation Spinach Smuggle” was born. The following are some fabulously 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, you can quietly sneak some fresh spinach in and your kids will be none the wiser. I like to buy fresh spinach in 3-pound packages at Costco (triple washed, ready-to-eat baby spinach) I then freeze the whole bag.

At meal time I add a cup or two of the frozen spinach leaves to my blender, and puree with a couple tablespoons of water. Then, I simply add some of the puree to whatever I am making – yes, even fruit smoothies.

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.

This puree method also works with carrots, blueberries, sweet potatoes, beets, squash, zucchini, bananas, and any non-starchy fruit or veggie that does not have a strong flavor.

You can sneak your purees into pancakes, breads, breakfast muffins, and brownies. Think zucchini bread: delicious and it’s made with – oh my gosh – a green vegetable! If you don’t already have a blender, you should really consider purchasing one… I absolutely love mine, and it really comes in handy here.

Tomatoes are often another foe for the finicky child. I love to take canned tomato products and add them to nearly everything I cook. The lycopene provided by these nutritional gems makes them a must-have in my child’s immunity-building culinary arsenal. So, I puree them, too.

Most children love the taste of tomato products (spaghetti, anyone?) but they tend to dislike the texture of chopped or stewed tomatoes in soups and other dishes.

Solution: A few seconds in the food processor, and voila! You have instantly eliminated the “gross-out factor” in tomatoes.

Another easy alteration to add some nutrients to your kiddo’s meal is to switch out your white rice for brown. This transition was painless for my kids once I discovered short grain brown rice. I buy “Farmer’s Select” brand, but this type of rice can also be bought in loose bulk at most whole foods markets. Kids love it – I just add a bit of soy sauce to the finished product.

Pump up the vitamin volume by buying only whole wheat bread. When kids do not have white bread as an option, the struggle ends. Get the smooth type, however (no wheat berries or chunky grains). Remember, kids tend to be more bothered by texture than taste.

Also buy whole wheat or supercharged pastas. Your homemade mac-n-cheese that they love so much will finally boast a wee bit of nutrition! (I like Barilla Plus – it has added omega 3s and as much protein per serving as 3 ounces of chicken!)

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 these).

Chances are, that list of fat-laden, artificially colored, sugary treats includes but is not limited to: popsicles, Cocoa Puffs, dinosaur-shaped fruit snacks, and snowy white powdered sugar donuts (or other equally worthless junk) Instead of your knee-jerk reaction of saying no, give ’em the next best thing!

For freeze pops, grab a can of frozen 100 percent juice concentrate (my kids like orange-banana), and a bag of frozen fruit (I love blueberries because of their “superfood” status).

Next, add some nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt, and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into plastic popsicle molds ( If you don’t have these, use an ice tray sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and popsicle sticks.) Then freeze.

Your kids will love these refreshing, summer treats, and you’ll have packed some healthy stuff into them. Aren’t you clever? Juice may feel like the safe way to go, but yogurt is an excellent and healthy alternative (and we’ve got a delicious, kid-friendly recipe you can try).

Ok, what about the Cocoa Puffs? Well, a great substitute is to buy a healthier cereal, such as Grapenuts or Wheat Chex (whatever you think they will eat), and let them add a teaspoon or so of sugar.

Kids still get the sweet they desire, but with some natural fiber, and a handful of nutrients. Mine love this, and that teaspoon is still less sugar than many of the pre-sweetened varieties contain.

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

My alternative? Go to a health food or whole foods market and grab the fruit leather. These snacks are made of real fruit and definitely nutritionally superior to their gummy cousins. Better yet, you can make your own using a dehydrator.

What about the donut dilemma? Well, while nearly all donuts are nutritionally void and loaded with “empty calories” as my mom would say, you can improve on this old favorite and make your own homemade version!

Simply buy some ready-made whole wheat dough (I like Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough), and roll to a 1″ thickness. Using a medium-sized biscuit cutter, stamp out your donuts. For the hole, punch it out using the cap from a plastic bottle, like your bottle of oil.

You can even make your own whole wheat dough, following our guide to baking with whole grains at home!

Next, add equal parts canola and extra-virgin olive oil to a medium frying pan. (the oil should fill up to about half and inch.) Then, fry your donuts on medium high heat until puffy and slightly golden (only takes a couple of minutes). Gently flip them over and repeat.

When finished, transfer directly from the pan into a bowl or zip-top bag of powdered sugar. Cool, serve, and take a bow. You have just made whole wheat donuts and fried them in healthy fat! KUDOS to you, Supermom! (Okay, they’re still fried, and they’re still coated in sugar – but they’re at least a little more nutrient rich!)

Virtually every food kids love can be altered with nutritionally sound alternative ingredients. Whenever you’re making cupcakes or a birthday cake, you can switch out the vegetable oil for applesauce, and add some ground flaxseed.

With chocolate cake, use extra-virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil. This makes an exceptionally moist cake, and tastes exactly the same. Tomato or beat puree also make excellent substitutes for moist results.

For breakfast, switch out greasy pork bacon for the turkey version.

These new implementations have taken away the stress of preparing meals, while drastically changing the dynamics of dining with my persnickety food critics.

* A word to the wise: Do NOT let your kids see you making these items. Do not tell them of any healthy additions, switched ingredients, vegetable purees, and never mention spinach.

Your family doesn’t have to know that the tasty carrot bread you’ve been making recently has three kinds of seeds, carrot juice, and shredded veggies.

In fact, you may have to outright deny it if confronted (with crossed fingers, of course)! You are, after all, simply doing what is best for your unsuspecting little eating machines!

*Note to parents who have tried everything, and still cannot get that picky eater to try anything other than PB&J or hotdogs: take a deep breath and remember, most kids outgrow these preferences in adolescence and develop more “grown up” tastes.

So, unless your child is falling behind the normal height and weight range for their age (usually measured at annual well child visits with their pediatrician – it’s that percentile number they throw at you), chances are their bodies are growing just fine, and your kids will survive to become healthy adults.

If nothing else, buy some of those fabulous gummy vitamins for extra insurance, and let them chug milk like it’s going out of style! (Kids need obnoxious amounts of calcium throughout childhood.) Then, you can rest assured that most of their nutritional needs will be satisfied.

With some creativity and nutritional know-how, you can turn your children’s complaints into compliments, and bask in the glow of your new secret superpower. 007 would be so proud!

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

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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

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 foodal.com/how-to-get-picky-child-to-eat-healthy. 🙂

  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. You have some really great ideas. It’s all about turning the tasty foods into healthy food that the kids just cannot resist.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

  43. 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 🙂

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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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