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Tips to help with an extreme picky eater child.

Updated on February 24, 2009

The plight of the picky eater

If you really want to insult a woman (or some men), don’t eat his/her cooking. From a fussy eater’s perspective, there is no worse thing in the world than not eating the food that other people eat. Everybody persecutes us, even fat people (especially fat people). Homosexuals and racial minorities have been through some horrible things, but I got news for you, they aint got nothing on North America’s mostly disregarded prejudiced group, the picky eater.

I think it goes back to the hunter-gatherer days, when, if a person didn’t eat whatever was offered them, they died. Nobody wants a picky eater in their gang, they want strong people who eat strong and contribute to the strength of the tribe.

Picky eaters put up with so much. All their lives, people will be disappointed with them. They’ll look at them with sad eyes and say, “oh…you’re a picky eater?” Then glance away so they wouldn’t have to see the intense looks of pity in their eyes. Or they say things like, “No one in my family acts like that. If they don’t like their dinner, they go hungry.” Picky eaters have heard that a thousand times before. They tried that. They went hungry.

It’s worse for the picky eater, because they know they’re causing you pain when they don’t eat your food. It hurts them more than it hurts you. They don’t mean to do it. Of course, sometimes they get the opposite reaction, instead of being hurt, the unappreciated chef gets determined and tries to turn you.

Women are always trying to change men, or ‘cure’ them. If they find out a man is gay, they want to take him to dinner and seduce back to their side. If they find out a man can’t eat well, they want to make him dinner and seduce interesting foods into his heart. This then leads inevitably to failure. At which point, these poor women are even more insulted than when they started. They tried their best and failed.

At least with turning gay men, women understand its going to be an uphill battle. There’s scientific evidence which says that homosexuality is inborn, and cannot be changed. The fussy eater has no such scientific protection. Women think curing the fussy eater is literally going to be a piece of cake, but its not. God it’s not.

Tips on fixing an extremely picky eater

Maybe it’s okay to be a picky eater. Maybe it’s okay to have sensitive taste buds or to only eat a rotation of ten or so things all the time, but if you’re here, you don’t think so. Okay.

1) First of all. He’s going to feel just as bad about it as you do. This applies to most aspects of parenting, but be cool about it. Don’t force the issue and he’ll be more responsive to what you have to say.

2) Know that, in some cases, it can’t be helped, children have more sensitive taste buds than adults, nothing you can do will help. If you worry this is the case, go see a nose, throat and mouth doctor about it. And consider ways of living it and working around your child's disability (and it is a disability).

3) In other cases, introduce different foods. If he doesn’t like smoked ham and mashed potatoes, make or buy a chicken curry for dinner. Try Chinese food. Buy some prosciutto and some gouda and make him a European sandwich. If he doesn’t like one thing, try other things, if you expand your own horizons, you’re children will see this and respond in kind.

4) You’re not going to like this suggestion, but: be a better cook. I know that nobody wants to think they’re bad at cooking, but in some cases, maybe you’re kid doesn’t like mashed potatoes because you’re doing them wrong. Look up recipes on mashed potatoes in google. Add more butter. It makes everything good.

5) Mix some of his favourite foods with new ones he hasn’t tried. That way, if he doesn’t like the new items, he won’t have to go hungry because he can’t do it.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm 14 and an extremely fussy eater. I know some people think that it's the parents fault. I don't think so. My mum had fed me balanced meals from when I was tiny.

      Believe it or not, I have actually tried nearly every new food put in front of me, just to see if there is something I like. The only new things I have ever liked it mashed potato and pie.

      I was very skinny and hardly ate any variety, if anything at all. I'd go without meals.

      Suddenly something snapped and I ate all the foods I did like (potatoes, meat, etc) in massive quantities.

      As a result, I'm an incredibly fussy eater, but I'm not underweight!

      I just hate the texture. It makes me want to gag.

      Yes, we do need to form a society!

      And make people understand that there is no-one to 'blame' in all of this. It's just the way we are!

    • profile image

      Natalia Moura de Oliveira 

      7 years ago

      To Wise Gandma: a picky eater child may not be parents fault. Like other people said, as a child i would gag and throw up when i tried something new. My mom tried to cut my snacks and make me choose between eating what was offered or go hungry. As a result, I lost weight. Now I'm 22 and I eat fruits, vegetables, chicken, beef, rice, pasta, beans, some kinds of cheese, yogurt and vanilla ice cream. I'm unable to eat any other kind of food. My brain just tells me it's not edible - I know it doesn't make much sense to someone who is not a picky eater, but that's how it works for me. To me, a slice of pie looks as tasty as my car keys - yuck

    • profile image

      Wise Grandma 

      7 years ago

      Children are picky eaters because their parents allow it. It is the child's power base. Serve the child three well-balanced meals a day. Quietly. Give them 20 minutes at the table and then let them get down whether they eat or not. Nothing but plain water between meals. No snacks ever. No muss. No fuss. It last three days and the child gives up and eats whatever is put in from of him. It's not easy to do...but it is the cure.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks - a love the funny images you put in here:). I have 2 picky eaters at home. Eating times are sometimes very frustrating... Here is a great list that I came across with 9 tips/tricks on dealing with picky eaters:

    • profile image

      Patricia Hoffman 

      8 years ago

      MY teenage son is the pickiest eater I've ever seen or heard of and has been since he was around 5, I am at my witts end I wonder how he is not a sickly child! I have talked to doctors but they dont seem concerned, but I still am and wish I knew how to help him learn to eat different foods again.

    • TurnOnYourSenses profile image


      8 years ago

      Some picky eaters are visually defensive and just looking at certain foods or textures makes them gag or throw up. Some kids do not like the smells, the texture of the food, for some it may be a control issue. Getting a child to eat new foods is a committment, and a process that requires trust on the part of the child. It is a very delicate transformation, and although difficult, it is possible to increase a child's food repertoire. One idea is the "Bye Bye Bowl", as recommended by a wonderful speech therapist, Christina. The child does not have to eat the new food, but bring the piece or pieces up to their mouth and kiss the food good bye and place it in a designated bowl. That is just one of many strategies out there.

    • Leenie Pooh profile image

      Leenie Pooh 

      8 years ago

      I was surprised to find that there are realistic reasons behind some children's picky eating habits. For instance, children are hard-wired to prefer sweet things and dislike bitter things. This is because when we were hunter-gatherer cavemen sweet things that kids might pick up while out playing were less likely to be poisonous than something that was bitter. Knowing that helped me to do things like add honey, sweet potatoes, corn and cooked carrots to foods to make them taste sweeter.

      I once asked my nephew why he didn't want the crust on his sandwich and his answer was simple and practical. "It's hard to chew." Okay. That makes sense to me. After that I never had a problem cutting the skins from apples or the crusts from sandwiches.

    • FreezepopMorality profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Wow, great responses. I am surprised by the many picky eaters on hubpages. I didn't reallise there were so many of us. There really needs to be a group for this silent minority, like you say, Lisa. How about we call it, "the crusade for peckish dignity." And we can have slogans and mascots and puke coloured maybe that's going too far.

      I can't run the club myself because I've forcibly taken myself out of the realm of the picky eater in the interest of greater knowledge/fitting in. But that might be a good project for you, Lisa.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      This is a great hub. I'm a picky eater, and I've thought how I just kind of stayed in the pickiness that six-year-olds tend to have right on into adulthood. I've never felt bad about it, though - just aggravated that other people "who seem to think food is a big deal" have something to say about my boring eating habits. :)

      There probably is something about the sensitive thing. I tell I'm like the canary in the coal mine when it comes to food. I have a diabetic friend who is worried he'll get a regular drink instead of sugar-free in restaurants, and he asks me to taste it first.

      To me, it's a good thing not to be very interested in food. Not being interested in food is not the same as not caring about nutrition. I pretty much my have my same handful of foods that have served me well since I was about three years old. The trick - for grown ups or their children - is to know the things you like from each food group and rely on them. People also need to stop thinking that if you're not willing to "just try" something it's the end of the world. There are whole categories of foods I'll never try because I know I won't like them.

      I think we picky eaters should form a giant "Picky Eater" club, spread the word that the way children eat (when they're hungry and not in big portions) is the way everyone should eat; and that seeing food as "entertainment" or even "adventure" is not really the right way to see food.

      All my life I've seen the faces of dining companions when I cut off all "black or brown parts" of food, hide gross-looking food under lettuce leaves, and take apart a sandwich to pull out all any lettuce pieces I don't like the looks/taste of. (I'm kind of horrified to think there are people who eat whatever is front of them! Have they no taste? :) ) Pretty much at the end of every meal I have a plate-load of "rejects" - but we are told we should "leave a little something on the plate". Well, that I do. :)

    • Direxmd profile image


      9 years ago

      God, such an awesome article :) I used to eat like a bird. I still don't eat most condiments: Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, Mayo, etc.

    • FreezepopMorality profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      You see, that's the attitude that picky eaters want: acceptance. I guarantee that if you leave them be, they'll be better for it, emotionally and culinarily. A lot of the problem stems from insistence and stubborness. I don't think all picky eaters will remain that way they're whole lives, but there are some that just can't do it and they need to be accepted, not made to be 'wrong'

    • Sarah Love profile image

      Sarah Love 

      9 years ago from Bay Area

      I have worked with some kid picky eaters and for the longest time I just thought is was a "faze" and tried to work them through it. After coming across many kids with food aversions for really no reason, I started accepting picky eaters for what they are - picky eaters and just let them be. Let them eat in peace - I like to.

    • FreezepopMorality profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Yeah, Teresa, that sounds a lot like me. I'd throw up too, or as Orionsky said, I just didn't eat and got really skinny. I don't know whether its a case of simply outgrowing it, deadening taste buds or what, but now I don't have that problem. In fact, I'm more culinarily adventurous than most people I know, now (a case of turn your greatest weakness into your greatest strength). Maybe after the pressure to do better had disappeared, I was able to get passed it. I don't know. My favourite explanation is that I just wasn't given the right foods, but I don't think that's really fair to my mother's cooking.

      Elena, these days, I think its a combination of a lot things. More sensitive taste buds, bad cooking, too much pressure, personal experience, pigheadedness. It all adds up. But eventually, most of us, inexplicably, get better.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      I was miserable when I was a kid. People wanted me to eat things that my stomach was telling my brain were just a bad idea. I didn't have any say in the matter, and as a small child, I didn't know how to handle the matter with any diplomacy. Sometimes I would eat what I was ordered to eat, and then throw up. It wasn't my fault! I'm not sure it had anything to do with my taste buds, either. Maybe it was the smell or the texture -- I don't know. Now I eat everything placed in front of me except for fried foods for breakfast. I never could stomach that.

    • Elena. profile image


      9 years ago from Madrid

      Hi Freeze!  You had me going good with the plight of the picky eater :-)

      I don't know much about the issue, I guess it must be true that SOME of the picky eaters have more sensitive taste buds, but that can't be the case of children that say, just like that, I won't eat tomato -- having never tried it to begin with!  I admit to not liking much people of any age that refuse to try something just because.  To each their own, then, but it can't be a case of taste buds, more of pig headedness, I'm inclined to think!  Laugh!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      It's weird. Some people are just so darn picky even when they get older. I think it kind of helps to be born into a poor family without many choices of food. If you didn't like what was for dinner, you weren't eating. Plain and simple.


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