Coping With Picky Eating


By Cami Wells, MS, RD, Extension Educator in Hall County

Picky eating is typical for many children as they grow up and become more independent. Here are a few tips to help:

• LEAD BY EXAMPLE: As a parent or caregiver, you are your child’s most important role model — especially when it comes to making healthy choices. If you eat healthy and try new foods, children will too.

• STOCK UP ON HEALTHY CHOICES: Buy plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. Keep healthy foods where they’re easy to see.

• DON'T FORCE IT: Forcing a child to eat certain foods will only cause more stress. Serve a few different fruits and veggies at mealtimes. Let kids find the foods they like.

• TRY NEW FOODS: Try different textures and flavors. If you normally serve sliced apples, try sliced avocado or sliced kiwi. Instead of carrot sticks, try snap peas, sliced bell peppers or cucumbers.

• GET CREATIVE: Add fruits and veggies to foods your family already likes. Mix blueberries and oats into pancakes. Add sliced fruit to a favorite cereal. Serve shredded veggies over rice or whole wheat pasta. Make smoothies with fresh or frozen strawberries, a banana and low-fat yogurt.

• LET KIDS HELP WITH MEALS AND SNACKS: Children are more likely to eat food they help make. Encourage children to help prepare meals and snacks. Let them help make the shopping list, pick out food at the grocery store and slice, mix, bake or cook the food.

• MAKE HEALTHY FOOD FUN TO EAT: Cut baked chicken, low-fat cheese and veggies into bite-sized pieces. Let kids “dip” these pieces into dunking sauces. Try hummus, low-fat ranch dressing, ketchup and mustard.

Looking for easy meals, ways to involve your children in preparing meals and snacks, or how to stay active? Check out ideas at Nebraska Extension’s Family Food & Fun at Home website at