picky eater plate with banana frown
Food For Better Health,  Healthy Eating,  Recipes,  Salads,  Side Dishes,  Vegetables

5 Ways to Handle Picky Eaters

Do you have Picky Eaters in your household?

I bet the majority of you do!

Whether it is a spouse, kids, or yourself – there are ways to handle those picky eaters.

Here are some of my suggestions.

Educate Your Family About Food Waste

Don't Waste Food trash canFood is the No.1 item Americans throw away. 

Each year up to 40 percent of the food supply in the US is never consumed.

Teach your children to appreciate the luxury of our vast food supply and encourage them to chose whole foods, when grocery shopping.

As a family, discuss the economic, environmental and social impacts of wasted food.

Involve your kids in starting a compost pile – make it a family project.

Read how to start composting at home HERE!

 More tips on how to reduce food waste HERE!  

Incorporate the 90/10 Rule

The 90/10 rule encourages kids to make choices about what they eat and sets limits on the “fun foods” they consume.

“Fun foods” are the sweet, fatty, salty foods we know we should not be eating in the first place.

Ninety-percent of what your picky eater consumes, should be good food: lean protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

The remaining 10% is “fun food.”

It helps kids pause and think through what they will eat during the day, and gives them an opportunity to think ahead and practice decision-making skills too.

In adults, it encourages accountability by restricting our “fun food,” to only 10% each day.

Use Your Comfort Zone

Pair a new food with a food you already enjoy.

Top a new food with a well-liked sauce or seasoning.

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For example, sprinkle bacon on Brussels sprouts.

My husband, nor myself, really like Brussels sprouts; however, I created a new dish and we both ate the Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts salad

Try different cooking methods.

If you can’t stand raw carrots, you could steam, sauté, or grill them instead.

Roasting veggies — especially squash and roots like beets, parsnips, and onions — often makes them softer and sweeter.


Have a Tasting Contest

list of foods for a sample game Studies have shown, the more times we try a food, the more we may like it.

Think of new foods as something you don’t eat — yet.

Build up familiarity.  Create a fun game around tasting new food.

In individual bowls, place 6 different food items to taste.

Blindfold two participates and disable their hearing with earbuds playing music.

Taking turns, feeding the samples to each participate.  Keep tally of who answers correctly.

The participate with the most points win!

Maybe the reward is choosing a favorite meal for an upcoming dinner?

Grow Your Own Food

Gardening, literally, brings food to life, especially for kids.

Learning about where their food comes from, along with the satisfaction of creating something, inspires young gardeners to raise edible crops, reduce food waste and appreciate nutrition.

Your garden does not have to be large, just a few potted containers will get a child excited about food.


Spring Gardening/JoAnn's Food Bites

Here are some ideas for creative programs to help you use gardens as a tool for nutrition education:

  1. Get them engaged early, like picking out the seeds from a catalog; or picking out foods in the produce section of the grocery store.
  2. Plant a colorful rainbow of crops. Fruits and vegetables come in a rainbow of colors.
  3. “What part of the plant are we eating?”  Study parts of the plant and make harvesting an educational experience.

Neophobia – a picky eater eating disorder

When does being a picky eater cross over to a Selective Eating Disorder (SED); otherwise known as food neophobia?

Doctors get concerned when a limited diet (eating food low in nutrition), initiate health problems, including heart and bone problems.

Adults with selective eating disorder experience food differently from other people.

The causes of SED are unknown.

Some experts theorize, it may be caused by a traumatic childhood experience such as choking on food with a certain texture, while others suggest that it may come from a fear of the unknown.

Although pickiness has not yet been officially recognized as a mental disorder, the American Psychiatric Association is considering its inclusion in the next edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the official compendium of emotional and mental disorders.

A Picky Eaters: Chicken Tender Salad

Try this chicken tender salad with your kids.

To avoid a fatty salad dressing, encourage them to eat with their fingers, but stay firm; they must finish their salad before they get their “fun food,” for the evening.

Salad with Chicken Bites

This easy salad incorporates your favorite vegetables, but with chicken fingers. It is also easy to control your portion size. Put your salad dressing on the side to save on calorie consumption.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Tenders, salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 439kcal
Author JoAnn's Food Bites


  • 3 Tyson's Southern Breast Tenderloins
  • 1 Romaine heart
  • 2 Radishes
  • 2 peeled carrots
  • 2 cooked, hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 cherry tomatoes


  • Heat oven to 425º
    Tyson's Southern Breast Tenderloins
  • Place chicken tenderloins on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil
  • While chicken is cooking, prepare salads by chopping and evenly dividing lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, carrots
  • Peel and slice one hard-boiled egg for each salad
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese - NOT the pre-shredded stuff but fresh cheese.
  • Cut cooked chicken into bite-size portions and divided evenly between salads.
  • Serve dressing on the side to control calories
  • Top salads with bacon bits, croutons, or sunflower seeds.

Do you have any recipes catering to picky eaters, to share with other readers?

Go to our Facebook page and post a link!  JoAnn’s Food Bites Foodies


One Comment

  • Renee

    I love tour suggestion about growing your own food. Every child I k ow who has a family garden eats veggies as they pick them. Great idea!!

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