Tackling the Problem of Picky Eaters

The most frustrating time to be a parent can be at the dinner table. We know fruits and vegetables are good for our kids, but can someone clue them in? Getting your kids to eat healthy doesn't have to be difficult. We found some tips that can help.

Respect your child's appetite

Don't force your child to eat a meal or snack. According to the Mayo Clinic, this might reinforce a power struggle over food, and your little one might associate the dinner table with anxiety and frustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming their plate and providing the opportunity for them to ask for more.

Stick to a routine

Stick to meals and snacks at about the same time every day. Here's a great article on healthy after school snacks.  Don't let your child to fill up on juice or milk throughout the day; this might decrease their appetite for meals.

Make it fun

How many kids like vegetables? Cue the crickets.

Serve broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Serve brightly colored foods on fun child-friendly plates. If your little one won't eat the sliced cucumbers next to their PB&J, be patient. They are getting to know these foods and by consistently introducing them to new foods, you're helping them mature their palate.

Let kids help

Plan meals with your children. Pick out a healthy recipe, go to the grocery store and let them "help" cook by stirring batter, rinsing vegetables and setting the table. If you're baking banana or zucchini bread (notice the emphasis on healthy baked good), make it a learning process. Show them what 1/4 cup versus 1/2 cup looks like.

Find kid-friendly meals

If you're an avid reader of this blog, then you know that we are big fans of the Meal Makeover Moms, www.mealmakeovermoms.com, two registered dietitians and moms who have cornered the market on combating the proverbial picky eating syndrome. Be sure to check out their website for meal time tips, recipes, podcasts, blogs and more.

Here's a recipe to entice your taste buds:

South-of-the-Border Mac & Cheese

Makes 4 Servings



  • One 6-ounce box all-natural macaroni & cheese
  • 1/4 cup 1% lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • One half of a 15 1/2-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons salsa




  1. Prepare the macaroni as directed; use 1% lowfat milk and substitute 2 tablespoons canola oil for the suggested 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine.
  2. Return the macaroni to the pan. Add the beans, corn, and salsa and stir to combine. Heat through and serve.


Nutrition Information per Serving: 340 calories, 10g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.6g omega-3), 630mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 11g protein, 10% calcium