Parents Are the Most Important Support System a Picky Eater Has

My Support Team: My Mom

Parents play a large role in a picky eater’s journey. Even though they do not cause picky eating, parents are the most important support system a picky eater has when it is time to try new food. Parents know their child the best, so they can work with the picky eater like no one else can. My mom has played this role throughout my life. Even though I am 28 years old, she is still one of the biggest supporters in my journey overcome the fear of trying new food and become the Unpicky Eater. I honestly do not think I would be as comfortable exploring new food without her. If it were not for my mom, I would be stuck eating chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for the rest of my life.

My Mom – The Executive Chef of le Casa Kaihoi

My mom is a mean cook. I honestly cannot remember a time my mom cooked a meal, and someone had something negative to say about it (other than me, of course, but that’s the picky eater talking). She has dozens of family recipes and cookbooks that she throws together like it’s nothing. But, she is the mother of a picky eater, which means she had a limited menu. I do not want to know how many times she made me Kraft macaroni and cheese (shapes only, because everyone can agree they are the best!) and sliced pears with the skin removed. I think that was my lunch every day in the summers because I refused anything else.

Even though she didn’t show it, I’m sure she was frustrated that I would not eat anything else. I am positive she was concerned about my health because I wouldn’t eat vegetables or most fruit. However, she would not lose her cool at the dinner table. She did not make me feel pressured to try something new every day, either because she was too tired to fight it or she did not want to cause me stress.

My Trust in My Mom Meant Stress-Free Mealtimes…for the Most Part

When a picky eater is pressured to try a new food, they go into defense mode. They start fighting, arguing, avoiding, and distrusting the person pressuring them. I cannot stress how important it is for a parent to keep their picky eater’s trust. If you don’t have their trust, you will gain no ground in the picky eating battle. By being the most important support system for your picky eater, you NEED to gain this trust.

Different Kinds of Pressure

Pressure isn’t just saying, “you can’t leave the table until you try your broccoli,” or “you will eat everything on your plate.” It can also be begging, “just PLEASE try it!” And bribing, “if you eat that bite of chicken, you can have ice cream for dessert.” Begging is just pressuring them with emotion, and that feels like pressure. Bribing with treats tells your picky eater that they are right in not wanting to try the new food. It emphasizes that the new food is bad because they should be rewarded for trying it. Does that make sense? It’s the same as if you comfort them after getting hurt. You’re trying to remove the pain of getting hurt by making them feel better. Well, with bribing, you are emphasizing the fear they feel when eating new food by giving them a treat later.

For whatever reason, my mom’s no-pressure approach grew trust on my side. I trusted that she wasn’t out to “get me” with new food or trick me into eating something I didn’t like. As a child, that is huge. As you may have noticed, kids are a bit dramatic. Many picky eaters think “if I don’t like this food, I will literally die,” and I was no exception. That anxiety and fear can transfer to the person pressuring if they aren’t careful. Thankfully, I can only think of a time or two that I felt that level of pressure from my mom. I trusted her above anyone else when it came to my eating. I know that is a major reason why chicken McNuggets aren’t the only meat I eat today.

My mom is one of my biggest supporters

My Mom Knows the Importance of Safety Foods

When my mom prepared dinner, there was always a safe food for me to eat. Whether it was bread, rice, bread, carrots, bread, apples, or bread, I knew I would have something to eat. Also, the reassurance of having safe food made trying new food a little less scary for me. Sure, I probably fought it every time a new food was put on my plate. But the “risk” of trying new food felt much less daunting if I had a slice of bread to eat. The bread was my safety net, which I could rely on if the new food failed me. 

I knew my mom was looking out for me when she gave me this safety food. This increased my trust, leading to less stress and fear on my end as the picky eater. Over time, I learned that when she asked me to try something new, it was because she truly believed it was good for me. She wasn’t trying to win our arguments by tricking me into trying something I would hate. But rather, she was encouraging me to do something that would help me grow as a picky eater as well as a person. 

She Used the Division of Responsibility…Even if She Didn’t Realize it

The Parent’s Responsibility

According to Ellen Satter, the Division of Responsibility is where the parent decides what to prepare and serve their picky eater. The parent decides what, when, and where to offer meals and snacks. That’s where the parent’s responsibility ends.

The Child’s Responsibility

The child then decides if or when they will try the new food. The parent does not force the child to try something new and how much (think, “you will not leave this table until your plate is clean.”). Instead, the child decides when and how much of the new food they will eat. Every parent knows that the best way to support their child is to raise them to be independent, strong adults. Well, that is true for their eating habits, too! As the most important support system a picky eater has, parents need to learn how to give their child the responsibility to choose to try new food.

Support for the Division of Responsibility

This should be a liberating idea for parents of picky eaters! It completely removes the pressure and responsibility off of the parent and puts it squarely on the kid’s shoulders. Now you may think, “this will never work. If it’s up to my picky toddler they will NEVER try a new food again.” But get this, this practice is recommended by:

By the time I was in middle school my mom was living this practice daily. While I started this post I asked her if she knew about this practice. She said, “Nope! What’s that?” Ha!

What You Can Learn from My Mama

  • Accept the fact that parents are the most important support system a picky eater has and live it daily!
  • Don’t pressure your picky eater to try new food
  • Keep the safe food on the table
  • Use the Division of Responsibility

No. You don’t need to (and probably can’t) do it on your own

So many times, mothers feel the pressure to be the perfect mom who has the answers to every question. The one who carries the exact snack their child asks for after soccer, the one who suggests life-changing advice to other mothers at pick up. But when it comes to eating with others, many mothers of picky eaters are ashamed of their child’s refusal to eat the food set before them. The moment the child says they don’t like the food can feel like a spotlight on a mother’s failure to teach their child how to appreciate the effort put into the plate set before them. Or it can feel like the other mothers see your child as stubborn, rude—or worse, entitled.

I’m sure most mothers can admit they’ve felt like they should know what’s best because every woman has a “maternal instinct.” Right? But the thing is, no one is born a good mother, just like no one is born a good athlete, writer, actor, scientist, you name it! We all need to learn to be good at something, and parenthood is no exception. But the thing about learning is that you need to go to others for advice and lessons. It’s not like the knowledge is already in you, and then it magically appears the moment you need it. You need to seek help and work on it, or else you’ll cycle through attempts and failures again and again until you break. The stress to do it on your own can be overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be!!

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What I’ve realized in my short 28 years on earth is that I’m not the first person to go through what I’m going through. I’m not the first bonus mom with a contentious birth mom. I’m not the first youngest of five dealing with self-imposed pressure to measure up to my sisters (a pastor, a PhD, a business owner, and a mother of two who often works and parents on her own while her husband travels for work). And I’m certainly not the first picky eater trying to figure out how to work up the courage to try new things. I just had to get over the feeling of self-reliance to recognize my need for outside resources. And I think many need to do the same.

I urge you, from one picky bonus mom to mothers of picky eaters, do not try to work it through on your own. Don’t think you can figure it out without help from others because chances are you are ill-equipped to handle something that can be as extreme as an eating disorder. Look for help from other mothers, podcasts, books, blogs, and even therapists if necessary. Because, believe me, it is absolutely necessary.

Here is a short sample of resources I’ve found helpful for trying new foods: 

Not only can you find printed resources, but the people in your lives can be HUGE supporters as well. My mom, sisters, husband, friends, and grandmother have been so encouraging for me as I fight through my fear-based picky eating. My mom introduced me to the bridge process. My sisters give me food suggestions based on what they know I like. My husband is willing to make foods to my preferences when necessary. My friends don’t pressure me when I don’t want to try new food.

And my grandmother actively tries to understand and support me when I’m uncomfortable with food. People. She brought ZIPLOCK BAGS to a church function so I could sneak my food into there to 1) not waste food that wouldn’t be eaten and 2) avoid the server’s question of if I was done with my plate when I hadn’t eaten anything! Her desire to help me has been huge because I look up to and respect her so much. I’m always grateful for her lack of judgment and the pure support she’s had for me over the years.

Grandma Iris and I at her church’s Christmas dinner where she brought Ziploc bags to take the food I didn’t eat!

My suggestion to all the struggling mamas out there is to not try to do it alone. Don’t think you should have all the answers because you’re a mom. Instead, seek help when you need it and don’t see it as a form of weakness. If you’re like me, it’s hard to accept you can’t do it alone. Admitting your weakness is a form of strength that many don’t have. Too often, people run themselves to the ground only to have what they’re striving for crumble before them. Don’t be that person. Look for help and when you find it, listen to it. You’ll be shocked at what you learn when you stop trying to do it on your own.

Because the thing is you AREN’T alone. So don’t try to do it alone.

For tips and tricks to help your picky eater, subscribe to my emails and follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Better Cook, Better Eater

Better Cook, Better Eater

Cooking stuffed sweet peppers

You know how I told you about cooks that can’t be trusted? Well, I’m one of them. I somehow find a way to mess up the simplest of recipes (such as boxed mashed potatoes) and stress out. It leads to me swearing off cooking forever, and I never get better. But that’s the thing – I want to be better! I wish I could cook up meals that people want to eat because they like it, not because I made the nice gesture of cooking for them. I also want to be a good cook because I think it will allow me to try new foods.  

When I found out about Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), it made me realize that the food I was trying wasn’t the issue – my fear of the food was. That fact slightly boosted my courage in trying new foods; however, I am not going all Andrew Zimmern and trying anything and everything. One of my tips for encouraging children and other picky eaters to try new foods is to get them in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Teach them about the foods they’re trying and, hopefully, this understanding will help build their courage to try the food. But by saying this, I feel like I’m being slightly hypocritical because: 

  1. I am not a good cook, so I don’t like cooking. 
  2. I don’t know a lot about food. 
  3. I am not brave when it comes to trying new foods, and I don’t like trying to cook new foods.

So, I am setting out to change that. I have been collecting new recipes and researching different cooking apps (Buzzfeed’s Tasty, Food Network’s Kitchen app, and, of course, Pinterest recipes). I have also started watching every Food Network show available on Hulu and reading books about food. I need as much inspiration and advice I can get! 

Drew has been very supportive and excited for me to do this. I’m not sure if he’s more excited for me to keep growing as a cook and eater or at the prospect of cooking less. But one thing’s for sure – he needs to be careful about what he eats because when I cook, you can’t be too confident of what you’re going to get!  

Back to the Basics 

To become a better cook, my first task will involve practicing the basics of cooking. From learning how to cut as consistently as possible, to studying how different types of salt affects your cooking, I am trying to learn it all. I recently purchased the book Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat where she took an approach similar to mine: She went to restaurants and culinary school, consulted with professional chefs, and traveled across the globe to learn all she could about food and cooking. Because I do not have the time or connections to do what she did, I will read her book and hope I can live vicariously through her studies. Since she is now a James Beard Award-winning chef, I think I can trust her to guide me through the finer points of cooking.

Try, Fail, Try Again 

One reason I believe I don’t cook as well as I could is the fact that I rush. I rush through reading the recipe, somehow thinking I can memorize every step after one quick skim. This has led to embarrassing mistakes, like when I somehow messed up boxed mashed potatoes during a college thanksgiving meal. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but I think I added the potatoes to the boiling water too soon, so they didn’t solidify correctly. It was rough. I think two people tried the mushy results, but then were left untouched for the rest of the meal. To make matters worse, my roommate Morgan made perfect boxed mashed potatoes. So there were two bowls sitting side by side on the counter. One filled with nice, fluffy mashed potatoes and the other looking like tan flour soaked with water. 

I also tend to bite off more than I can chew, figuratively of course. I try my hand at cooking a meal before performing some of its easier steps and it all falls apart. I recently tried to make a bacon-wrapped, feta cheese and spinach-stuffed chicken for Drew and me. Here’s how that disaster went. 

First, I wanted to try a healthier recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan. I’ve made several recipes from this book and they’ve turned out well! However, I should have adjusted certain steps in this recipe, but I was too afraid. The main one was not cooking down the feta with the spinach. The cheese was going to be in the chicken while that cooked, so that would have been enough heat for that type of cheese. 

The second mistake I made was not double checking if we had toothpicks to hold the chicken together while it cooked (spoiler alert, we had zero). According to the recipe, I had to butterfly-cut the chicken so it was barely connected on one side. Then the toothpicks would hold it all together while it cooked. Because I didn’t have toothpicks, I wrapped it all in tin foil. This led to a slower cooking time which meant the cheese was overcooked and the chicken essentially cooked in its juices as well as the bacon grease. The latter I can live with (it’s one of my favorite cooking tools), but the chicken juice was just too much for me to handle. Also, the bacon didn’t crisp at all, and I am not a fan of soggy bacon. 

Once it was finally done, I didn’t even touch it. The chicken juice and lack of cheese scared me from wanting to try it at all. Because it took so long to cook, Drew was hungry enough that he devoured it, but we threw the rest out. He claims the chicken was cooked perfectly (thankfully), but that was all that went well with the meal. 

Small Successes 

As I mentioned earlier, I have been digging into websites, apps, cookbooks, you name it to find recipes I think I can make now. The first test for me was Super Bowl Sunday. I wanted to create a spread of classic game food, with some fun new foods thrown in.  

Chicken Wings 

Ah, chicken wings, the classic football food that appeases almost everyone. Almost. I struggle with bone-in chicken wings. I’ve tried them many times in my life, but I rarely find myself liking, if not craving, them. I thought that I might appreciate them more if I made them myself so I focused on the recipe and put in some work. I found Chef Chris Santos’ Smoky Rubbed Chicken Wings with Honey, Bourbon, and Molasses Sauce on the Food Network Kitchen App that sounded awesome. Just enough heat, sweetness, and stickiness to be the kind of wings I’d like.  

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Ah, chicken wings, the classic football food that appeases almost everyone. Almost. I struggle with bone-in chicken wings. I’ve tried them many times in my life, but I rarely find myself liking, if not craving, them. I thought that I might appreciate them more if I made them myself so I focused on the recipe and put in some work. I found Chef Chris Santos’ Smoky Rubbed Chicken Wings with Honey, Bourbon, and Molasses Sauce on the Food Network Kitchen App that sounded awesome. Just enough heat, sweetness, and stickiness to be the kind of wings I’d like.  

These wings required a marinade, 14 spices (yep, 14!) just for the rub, a homemade BBQ sauce (my first BBQ sauce I’ve ever made), and baking as well as broiling. It took me quite a while to make these wings, and by the time I finished them, I couldn’t wait to dig into them. I took one bite and immediately regretted it. The main thing I don’t like about bone-in wings is the meat’s texture. It’s almost slippery and reminds me of what I’m eating. On top of that texture was the fact that I was holding a bone. I can’t handle that either – again, it reminds me of what I’m eating (poor chicken).  

Even though I didn’t like these wings, everyone else LOVED them. There were no leftovers and my stepdaughters kept going back to them (big win for me!). I wish I liked them, but I couldn’t get my mind away from the texture and bones. 

Bacon is My Jam 

I love bacon. It makes almost every meal better and I look for every opportunity to add it to my diet. I recently tried bacon jam crostini at Lolo in Stillwater and could have eaten them all night. I immediately searched Pinterest for a bacon jam recipe and stumbled across The Seaside Baker’s Bacon Jam Crostinis. I knew these would be a great side to go with the chicken wings.  

To make this recipe, I needed a food processor and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one! We decided to go big on this purchase, seeing it as something that we’ll use for years to come. Drew bought the beautiful Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor that day with Target gift cards we received from my bridal shower just a month before. However, this excitement proved to be my downfall. I was so excited to use it and document that in my Instagram story that I over-processed the jam and it was almost a sauce instead. Thankfully the flavor was there and people liked it, but it wasn’t what I had in mind when I planned out this meal. 

The Recipe That Made Me Like Eggs (kind of) 

“Why don’t we always have this?”

– Bella, my 13-year-old Bonus Daughter

As I note in my recent post, Overcoming the Fear of Trying New Foods, I’m trying like eggs, but I don’t like them on their own. Their texture, smell, and look is not appealing to me. But throw in some bacon, cheese, and spices? That I can do! As I mentioned in one of My Favorite Things posts, one of my go-to cookbooks is Joanna Gaines’ The Magnolia Table. Her bacon and cheese quiche is one reason why I love this book. With creamy gruyere cheese, a pound and a half of bacon, and crispy pie crust, what’s not to love?

When I lived on my own, I would make this quiche on the weekend and freeze the leftovers to have for breakfast throughout the week. I recently made it for Drew and the girls and Bella asked, “Why don’t we always have this?” Another win for me! Anytime I can get the girls to eat my food, I celebrate a bit on the inside.

More importantly for me, this dish made me branch out a bit with trying eggs. Since first making this quiche, I have tried more egg dishes (like scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese – essentially the same thing but no one needs to know that 😉 ) and I’ve looked at more recipes to try in the future. I now eat my mom’s egg dish every Christmas (a staple in our home) and it was served at my bridal shower. By adding two of my favorite things (bacon and cheese) to a food I’m tentative about – even afraid of at times – I was able to push my nerves aside to recognize that at least I’ll like something in the dish. This is enough to give it a try and eat a little bite.  

Also, by giving myself some liberties with this recipe, I was able to adjust it to be something I’d like more. I put less chives in, increase the bacon by a slice or two, and add more of the gruyere cheese than it calls for because it’s just that good. 

Join Me in My Cooking Journey! 

It’s now a priority for me to learn how to cook and cook well. I have a list of recipes I want to try and am constantly looking for tips and tricks to make it an easy and fun process. I will also be putting my theory to the test to see if by cooking more, I’m able to try (and hopefully like!) more foods. I hope you bring your picky eater into the kitchen as well to educate them on the food they’re eating. I believe understanding the food put in front of me and knowing what to expect once I bite into it has helped me on my journey.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to get live updates of my cooking and tasting journey! Also, sign up for my emails to receive my favorite quiche recipe for free! It might just change your picky eater’s mind about eggs too. 

But I Thought You Liked That?! Didn’t You Eat That Before?

When I’m asked that question I often want to respond with, “There’s a difference between eating a food because I have to versus eating a food because I like it.” But I’m too passive aggressive for that. Instead, I use one of my well-worn responses that I’ve honed over the years to get away with not actually answering this question: “I ate a big lunch.” “I don’t want to fill up before dessert!” “I’m thinking about becoming a vegetarian.”

Ok. I’ve never actually used that last one but I’ve definitely thought about it!

So, when we get to the qualifiers of “What do I eat” and “What do I actually like to eat,” you need to be ready to hear more details than you bargained for.

You see, there are plenty of things I’ll eat if I need to. Whether it’s to avoid offending a host or just avoiding talking about my picky eating, there are plenty of times I choke down a few bites of food before claiming I’m full. But enjoying that food is another story entirely. When you know you’re eating with a picky eater, recognize that just because they ate a certain food one way at one point in life doesn’t mean they’ll eat it in any form again.​ Even better, don’t ask why they aren’t eating it if you thought they liked it! That puts a heavy feeling of being judged and shamed for not eating something prepared for them, even if that’s not what you intended at all. Chances are they’ve had people judge or shame them for not eating in the past and it’s all too easy for those feelings to come back when someone asks an innocent question. 

These kinds of questions can bring back feelings of shame and embarrassment for your picky eater.

After more than 27 years as a picky eater, I’ve learned to fake it ‘til I make it. Someone thoughtfully prepares a chicken dish for me not realizing I don’t like bone-in wings? I’ll eat the skin around it and maybe get a little meat in there. As long as I don’t see bones or tendons I’m good! They prep cheesy potatoes I know I won’t like? In the past, when I was actually allergic to dairy, I’d plea lactose intolerance and get away without eating something I knew wouldn’t get down my throat easily. I even rejected homemade brownies once because they were made with sour cream and I had no idea what they’d taste like. Easy out: I was lactose intolerant so I didn’t touch a single brownie. Unfortunately for me, my body now produces lactase – the enzyme needed to breakdown lactose – so I’ve lost that convenient excuse. Darn you properly functioning digestive system! 

The Long Answers

But back to the question of “What Do I Like to Eat?” When I think about my answer to that question all I can think of are qualifiers. If you ask that question you can expect answers such as: 

  • I like chicken wings…but only if they’re boneless, fried, and dripping in sauce 
  • I like tomatoes…but only if they’re finely chopped and mixed in with another food, preferably something cheesy 
  • I like ham…but only if it’s a small serving, hot is a bonus, honey baked is a double bonus 
  • I like turkey…but only if it’s smoked turkey and has other salty foods with it – sure I’ll have it in a sandwich, but it should be only one or two small slices. PLEASE do not give me a big wad of meat in mayo-soaked bread! 

Do you see a pattern? “I like_____…but” is a constant phrase for me, and probably is for other picky eaters too. You see, just because I like a food a certain way doesn’t mean I like it every possible way. It’s not likely that just because you saw me eating the only food provided at a company dinner means that I actually like the food. I’ve been getting better about eating less-than-desirable food that I have no option but to eat. It’s gotten me through various work functions where only a few apps were provided, many missions trips where a few bites of salad got me through a long volunteering day, and countless dinners at friend’s houses where their parents pulled together what I can only imagine was a great meal! But I couldn’t enjoy it like I wish I could. 

What You Can Take from This

So. Before you ask a picky eater what they eat, consider rephrasing to “What’s your favorite quick dinner?” Or “What’s your favorite afternoon snack?” or even “if you could eat anything you could for lunch, what would it be?” Then you will get real, accurate answers that will actually give you the information you’ve been looking for! Even better, your picky eater will see you as someone they can trust with opening up about their eating habits. Building this trust is essential for making mealtimes more comfortable. 

Oh My Guac!

Sometimes my process goes right out the window because, well, I don’t know that I’m trying new food. Though it doesn’t happen often, it isn’t unusual for me to be surprised by an unexpected ingredient, especially when eating at a restaurant. This happened (thankfully with success) during my first date with my now-husband, Drew.

On the night of our first date I was nervous but excited – I couldn’t believe I was going out to dinner with a co-worker! The typical questions went through my head – is this a date date or just a fun night out? How will it go? What if I embarrass myself or it goes poorly and work becomes awkward? I wasn’t really thinking about what I would be eating, especially when I walked into the restaurant and watched him stand up in his work shirt and jeans (confession – this was my first time seeing him with his shirt un-tucked and for some reason I thought it was SUPER attractive).  

We chatted while we looked over our menus so I don’t remember taking in much information other than seeing “fish tacos – fried cod and coleslaw.” The food came and we kept chatting while we ate, I was still so excited and chatty that I doubt I tasted much in my taco. Then I actually looked at it and there was a green, creamy blob I didn’t expect to see. I sat for a second then said “oh my gosh, there’s guacamole in here. And I think I like it!” Drew already knew a bit about my picky eating so he just burst out laughing and joking how amazing it was that I tried something and liked it.  

So, yeah, I had no idea what I was eating but liked it a lot! In fact, I almost always get the fish tacos when I go to The Claddagh Pub.  

Fish tacos

I think a few factors were at play that helped me try this food and like it so much: 

  • I was in an exciting, distracting atmosphere 
  • I was with someone I enjoy talking to  
  • The guac was mixed in with other ingredients I really like that almost masked the guacamole flavor at first 
  • There was no build up or (food-related) anxiety  

I Like Guac, but not on its Own 

I really like guac in tacos, burritos, nachos, etc. but I don’t like just chips and guac on their own. The texture is a little too grainy yet fluffy with chunks…which doesn’t feel right with the taste. If there are spicy guacamole recipes maybe I’d like it more, but when it’s too bland I only focus on the texture and not the taste. I’m working on liking guac and chips, but it might take a bit before it’s an app I choose at a restaurant or party.  

This Worked for Me, But Don’t Think You Should Stick New Food into Every Recipe 

I know this may feel like I’m saying try to trick your picky eater by sneaking new ingredients into their food without warning. This can lead to distrust, fear, and anger at meal times. My goal with this blog is to help do the opposite of that. So for this post I’ll recommend a different approach to this tactic. 

Pick an Exciting Setting 

At a party, theme/water park, the beach, anywhere your kid is too excited to be? Then they’ll be less likely to be focused on the food set before them and more eager to get back to the action.  

Kids eating at a baseball game
Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

Tap into Their Chatter Box 

Keep talking to them about the fun things you’re doing while eating to keep their mind off of their meal. Even better – ask them what the first ride, game, slide, etc. they want to do once they’re done eating. Give them something to be excited about so the fear of eating doesn’t feel so big anymore.  

Add Food They Love 

Masking the taste of the new food with food they already like can work wonders in helping your eater like a new food. I’ve done this with guac, pork, potatoes, onions, and more. By using a food I already like as a vehicle for the new food, then I swear I’ve tricked my own mind into believing I liked a new food I may have not liked if I tried it on its own.  

Keep it Light 

This can be taken in two different ways: light attitudes and light servings.  

Keep your conversations happy and exciting. Don’t be serious, don’t pull the stern “we aren’t leaving this table until you’ve finished your food.” Instead talk about what they want to talk about and what they’re excited for. Joke around, even if they don’t like it joke about it! Not liking a food can be a scary or disappointing moment. So instead of letting them stay down try to bring them up with humor! 

When giving them the new food, just use a bit of it. Don’t use a full amount as you would in your own dish because that is a scary amount for them. Instead, even just a few crumbs of a new food is sufficient. Yes. That small is plenty. Think about it, you’re used to the flavor and probably like it, so you think more is best, right? Nope. Not for a picky eater. Smaller is better because they can easily get the flavor out of their mouths quicker, the size doesn’t look intimidating, and they could try to pretend it isn’t even on their spoon.  

Don’t Do This Every Time 

Take it from me. Being expected to try a new food at every meal is exhausting. Don’t do this process every single time your at the exciting, distracting place. Just do it every once in awhile, especially on days they’re clearly too excited to think much of food. But if you keep doing this at every party or park, then they’ll associate that place with trying new foods and they won’t like it anymore! Think about it, if you are always pinched when you go to Target, then you won’t want to go to Target anymore or always be paranoid of being pinched. So don’t pinch your kid, give them a break and let them eat their chicken fingers in peace. 

Keep Reminding Them if This Works 

Find this tactic worked for your eater? Then remind them of it! Help them remember it doesn’t have to be as scary as they’re making it. Remind them they had fun when they tried a new food and let them know it can still be fun even if they don’t like the food. Heck, Drew LOVES to remind me of the guac incident and its helped me realize that trying a crazy new food I didn’t think I’d ever try doesn’t have to be a major event.  

First June Food of the Month Attempt – Bacon, Cheese, and Pepper Omelet

Over this past weekend Drew made everyone omelets. The core ingredients were eggs, bacon, and cheese (classic for kids and not too bad for me). That’s when it hit me that peppers are ALWAYS an option on menus, so it was time for me to bite the bullet and add some peppers to the frying pan.

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Now, eggs are still a relatively new food for me, and the one tip I’ve had for others is to add a lot of food you already know you like to the food you’re trying. With this meal I was turning that tip on the side a bit by adding a second food I still wasn’t sure about, peppers, to a food I’ve been working on for a while, eggs.

I picked out a nice, red pepper and chopped about half of it into small cubes. I didn’t add all of it to the omelet – in comparison to the full pepper I really didn’t add much – but while I was eating I found myself picking around the peppers or adding a lot more cheese and bacon bites to try to mask the pepper taste. This worked for the most part, but I found myself taking little breaks between particularly peppery pieces before going for another forkful.

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I was overwhelmed at points with the taste of the peppers and needed a coffee break for a chance to gather myself to try again.

What I Took from This

The loudest voice in my head was screaming, “There are way too many peppers in here!!” And it was right. I was over eager in wanting to try the pepper, so I kept dropping more pieces in the pan. What I should have done is cut less peppers to start with and then add even less to my omelet.

It took me a while to finish eating because I was overwhelmed at points with the taste of the peppers and needed a coffee break for a chance to gather myself again. I also found myself letting the peppers fall off of my fork, so I sometimes didn’t even get one with that bite.

What You Can Take Away from This -Learn From My Mistakes

Don’t do what I did. Yes, it’s exciting to think about your child trying a new food you’re sure they’ll love, but that doesn’t mean they’ll want to taste it in every bite. Instead add the new food sparingly and spaced far apart. Then they’ll have breaks from the new food and enjoy the food they already like. This will keep the tasting more positive and comfortable for your picky eater.

Even better, have them add the new food themselves! Then they can control what they’re eating and feel more confident once it comes time to try the food. Giving them some control over what they’re eating will do wonders with their confidence.