I’ve seen some pretty picky eaters. I’ve seen kids who wouldn’t eat anything with any sort of seasoning, because it was “spicy.” I’ve seen kids that won’t eat vegetables, lettuce, or wheat bread. I’ve seen kids order their meals with all the particularity of an A-list celebrity. My kids, however, are not picky eaters. They all have a food or two they just aren’t fond of, and there are ways they like their food better than others, but they will eat what they are given. This is why.
The try-it-rule for picky eaters:
My kids, like most, will turn their nose up at almost anything that looks different, whether they’ve eaten it before cooked in another way or not. For this reason, we have a try-it-rule. If my kids want dessert, which thanks to my sweet-tooth is never missed, they must try at least one bite of whatever is on their plate, and they must eat an acceptable portion of the overall food on their plate. If they don’t like one item after trying it, and eat the other two for example, that’s OK. If they don’t eat, they aren’t hungry enough for dessert and don’t get it. It’s especially important to not reward not eating. We apply the try-it rule to every meal, it doesn’t matter if they’ve tried it before, because I’ve found even if they didn’t like it the first five times they tried it, they may the sixth.
Eliminating outside influence on picky eaters:
Next, I may hate seafood, nut chunks in my bread, and extremely spicy food myself, but you will never hear me say that in front of my kids. Many picky eaters picked up their ideas about certain foods from comments they heard adults say. Be careful not to express your own dislike for certain foods or cooking techniques. I’ll go as far as to eat things I don’t like and pretend I do, just so my kids have a bias-free opinion on food. It’s also important to offer healthy foods from birth, so you’re not trying to drop something like brussel sprouts on an unexpecting kid. If they’ve always had it, they’re more likely to eat it.
It stays on the table:
Even when my kids refuse to eat, the food sits right where it was set. We long ago realized trying to force them to eat and sit at the table only resulted in a fit, but found when they got hungry; they would come back and eat. We don’t offer any snacks unless meals were eaten, if they weren’t, I direct my kids to their sitting plate for snack. Granted it’s not an you-eat-it-or-starve situation, the plates are switched when a new meal is served, but not offering alternative food options often eliminates picky eating.