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Top Meals for Picky Eaters

Updated on September 2, 2013

Food for Picky Eaters

Picky eater toddler girl, showing us her "poker face"
Picky eater toddler girl, showing us her "poker face" | Source

How to Re-Train your Child to Eat Healthy

Here's the advise we followed from my son's Pediatrician:

1. Cut out all snacks(no crackers, cookies, cereal bars, muffins ect) and have your child only eat at set eating times.

2. Cut out all fruit.

3. Serve vegetables with every meal.

4. Your child must eat whatever the family is eating-no substitutes.

5. At mealtime, set a timer for 20 minutes. Your child has 10 minutes to take a bite and 20 minutes to finish the meal. If no eating has occurred in 10 minutes time, the meal is now over and the food is taken away.

6. If your child doesn't eat their whole meal, serve the left overs for snack along with vegetables.

Food for Picky Eaters

Ask any parent out there, we’ve all been through many food battles with our picky eating toddlers. It’s frustrating for us because when it comes to feeding our kids, we can’t force them to eat. Food for picky eaters is impossible! The power is in the hands of your kids and that just makes us feel, well a little crazy, right?

After almost completely giving up on feeding my toddler all together and after beginning to give in to his particular food demands I came to a realization. I realized that my toddler was becoming the one who was calling the shots, at least in the eating department. And when you have a toddler in charge of what's being eaten, there will most certainly not be any vegetables and meat being consumed by him. My boy was eating a very unhealthy diet of bread, cheese, crackers, fruit and peanut butter. There wasn't a way in hell I could convince him to even try a bite of a vegetable or a morsel of meat. Healthy recipes for picky eaters, like my little one, can certainly be made but there's no point if your child won't actually eat healthy food.

Food for Picky Eaters

Picky Eater Toddler
Picky Eater Toddler | Source

Meals for Picky Eaters

Now that you're hopefully making some progress with getting your child to eat a variety of foods with the new "starve or eat what I serve you" plan, let's talk about preparing some healthy and nutritious meals for picky eaters. When it comes to preparing food for picky eaters, it's important for you to have a succinct, well laid out plan for what to feed your little one/little ones. Remember, you're the one in charge, right? Here's a mantra I remind myself of daily:

  1. You (the parent or caregiver) are the one in charge of what food you're serving to your kid/kids.
  2. Your child/children's job is to decide how much to eat and at what pace. (Of course, use timers if you need to as many kids are gifted in the art of stalling.
  3. You are not a short order cook. Your job is not to make separate meals for your kid/kids. Your kids should be eating what you're eating.

Meals for Picky Eaters: A Brief Guideline

Meals for Picky Eaters
What to serve
Oatmeal, yogurt, fruit and toast with nut butter served with a glass of milk.
Pre-dinner (while you're preparing the main course)
Cut up veggies with dip (humus, ranch, yogurt ect)
Main Course Lunches or Dinners for Picky Eaters
A healthy well-balanced meal that includes protein (meat, tofu or beans), vegetables and grains. Add pureed vegetables to what you're eating for added nutritional benefits.
Left-overs from previous meal served with vegetables/dip.

Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters

When it comes to food for picky eaters, sometimes texture does matter. One thing that has saved us around here is adding vegetable purees to the main course or dish. Especially spaghetti sauce. You can put anything in spaghetti sauce, and in smoothies.Our go to cook book with kid and family friendly recipes, Deceptively Delicious, advocates heavily the idea of adding in veggie purees. In fact, keeping a well stocked fridge/freezer full of a variety of blended vegetables is a great way to get in the essentials into your kids.

Our favorite healthy recipes for picky eaters (aka, our pre-schooler) are pumpkin blueberry pancakes, zucchini muffins (dairy free, sugar free), oatmeal with fruit and homemade pizza.

Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters


Ingredients for Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes

  • pumpkin puree 1 cup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters: Blueberry Pumpkin Pancakes

Cast your vote for Blueberry Pumpkin Pancakes

Instructions: Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes

  1. Mix the milk,pumpkin, egg, vinegar, agave and coconut oil in a large boil.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients. Add in blueberries.
  4. Pour batter on to a flat grill (350 C) and turn pancakes over when bubbles form.

Food for Picky Eaters: A Few More Tips

When it comes to providing food for picky eaters, it's important to set your child up for success. When it comes to dinners for picky eaters, or breakfast, or lunch or snacks, here are some guidelines that may increase the likelihood of healthy eating:

  • Always serve one thing that your child actually likes.
  • Don't bribe your child with dessert if they eat all their food. They have enough pressure as it is.
  • Don't instantly praise your child after taking a bite, be neutral or don't say anything at all. Remember, no pressure.

© 2013 healthygurl


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    • emilynemchick profile image

      Emily Nemchick 4 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      I've heard before that veggies with dips like hummus and ranch make a great snack even for picky kids. Great advice!

    • Irish Shrew profile image

      Ro 4 years ago from Midwest

      I had a picky eater and taught 176 4-year olds for 11 years. I need to respectfully disagree with your Practitioner. You see, an early child's eating habits sometimes revolves around a growth spurt, taste buds that are not developed yet, a keen sense of smell, or even a sign of independence. Having any kind of time limit on meal times can suggest to the child that these are unhappy times, and they will eventually treat at as such. This is not to say, that there shouldn't be a consistent scheduled time. Snack is ; 10 o'clock and 3 o'clock, as an example. Stick to those times. They, I agree, shouldn't be containing sweet apple juice or processed junk food. They can, however, be 'ants on a log' ; peanut butter, raisins on celery. They are getting the good fat, protein and vitamins. For the 3-4 yr old- offer them choices. That independent toddler will react in a more positive way if they THINK they have controlled the meal rather than you setting the limitations. Place a little table of veggies with toppings of raisins vs. nuts OR peanut butter vs. yogurt. Either combination! Let them decide. You can always put away the other without contamination. They will eventually learn that you are setting the perimeters-they are making the choices. We all develop a taste for some foods- bitter, sweet, sour, etc. but at an older age. Don't expect the young child to be able to distinguish the aforementioned at such a young age. You stated; 'don't instantly praise a child after taking a bite" I concur. Children knows when an adult is trying to be a 'Cheerleader' however, what he needs to experience is simple family time with a spattering of descriptive conversation, such as: Oh, I have to try these green peas. I love green and I love peas! As anyone tasted the chicken? It is sooo moist and reminds me of a restaurant daddy and I go to. I'm already feeling stronger from the beans. I think I will run faster than ... at the park today! It sounds cheesy but it calmed my students and they started taking interest in what they were eating. I had mothers asking; WHAT are you doing to my kid? They NEVER drink milk! cottage cheese! beans! ....

    • profile image

      shatabdic 4 years ago

      Very useful indeed. I will definitely give these a try.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Thanks for the tips and the healthy recipe. :-)

    • healthygurl profile image

      healthygurl 4 years ago from Canada

      Amanda, I agree that this "method" is geared for older toddlers, as younger kids are still developing their taste buds. My boy is 3 and after three days of no fruit and snacks, he seemed to catch on. And with any method, what works for one child might not work for another. Thanks for your insight.

    • Heartsandkisses profile image

      Heartsandkisses 4 years ago

      This is perfect for me!!

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image

      amandajoyshapiro 4 years ago

      While it's a good idea to make sure kids are eating healthy even if they are picky, is threatening to starve them healthy? A lot of kids are picky eaters because their taste-buds haven't developed yet for more adult foods. Also, they might be too young to understand your intentions and question why they are being punished. It's important to find a balance and they will grow out of it.

    • healthygurl profile image

      healthygurl 4 years ago from Canada

      Glad you got something useful out of my article. I just write from my current experience and hope that others can benefit from ideas that have worked. Some days are really hard still...

    • toptenluxury profile image

      Adrian Cloute 4 years ago from Cedartown, GA

      I'm probably one of the pickiest eaters their is. Thanks for the great ideas for food. Voted up!

    • profile image 4 years ago

      might try this