Picky Eater Problems: Getting Your Little Ones to Eat and Like Their Food


A few years ago, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica Seinfeld, released a book called Deceptively Delicious. The book was an overnight hit, in large part because of her celebrity name and being booked on every major talk show as a cooking guest for a month straight. For a few weeks, you couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing about her book.

Like many Moms, I bought the book thinking this would be the perfect solution to getting my own picky three eaters to stop spitting out their spinach, gagging on their broccoli and feeding green beans to the dog when my back was turned (yes, that happened). My little ones didn’t always despise vegetables. As babies, they happily gobbled down whatever pureed food I spooned into their little mouths. But, as the toddler years set in, everything changed. Around age two, kids learn more about choices and the word ‘NO’ which they emphatically exercise their right to use frequently.

After months of trying it Mrs. Seinfeld’s way – cooking, pureeing and hiding vegetable in my kids’ meals (cauliflower in mac n’ cheese and carrots in pasta sauce), I decided there had to be a better way.  I had to stop the subterfuge and hiding behind the food processor. I was determined to put a solid, single piece of broccoli on my children’s plates and have them eat it and…smile.

Here are the three golden rules I lived by: 

One Bite RuleIt takes 10 to 15 tries before a child will actually eat – and even like – a new food. Each child was required to eat one bite of each item on their plate at every meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. A vegetable was incorporated into each one. Spinach in eggs (just one leaf!), raw carrots with their Goldfish (they almost blend in!) and cauliflower with their tater tots (brown them to a crisp and they could almost be twins!)

Learn to Cook. Each night one child was Mom’s ‘helper’ in the kitchen. Even on stools barely able to reach the counter, each one was sous chef for a day. Snapping green beans, peeling potatoes (required a lot of supervision) and when they were older, chopping. As I made them a part of the meal prep, not simply just eating it, they gained an appreciation for what it took Mom (and Dad) to make meals and opened up discussions on nutrition. Bonus: measuring cups teach math! Score one big win for Mom.

Knowledge is Power. There are a lot of amazing books out there about healthy eating that kids will really enjoy. Our two favorites were To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure and The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman.We incorporated these books at bed time reading which led to conversations about food, even if it was in a silly way, and talked about how important nutrition and exercise are to a healthy body.

Fast forward over five years later, and we still have pickiness (no tomatoes for the youngest) and challenges (no one likes to be Mom’s sous chef anymore, but they can all cook if they get hungry enough!).  Despite the ongoing battles, I’m glad I instilled these rules when I did and I now see it definitely changed to the course of events during their formative years.

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