Picky Eating – It’s Science

Kids should just eat what’s on the table, right? I mean, it only stands to reason picky kids will turn into picky adults if they’re indulged early on. Besides, there’s nothing to be scared of – they’re just vegetables.

That said, I don’t actually have any children so I will likely stand corrected on this issue.

It looks like there are a lot of tips and tricks out there to get kids to eat healthy and not kick up a fuss every time they’re presented with something healthy. And while some parents say their children will eat whatever is put in front of them, it looks like a lot have a nightly battle on their hands to get the veggies down.

According to Dr. Oz (you know, the guy from Oprah), children’s famous dislike of vegetables is actually a survival mechanism. The bitter taste found in some veggies triggers a biological response in the little guys that is meant to help them avoid poisonous substances. It appears parents are staging a battle against millions of years of evolution (via healthybpm.com ).

So, in order to trick biology and all the picky eaters at your table, The Food Network has listed a few tips to get your kid’s to eat better…

1.   Make Sure They’re Hungry
Filling up on snacks or drinks too close to mealtime can make those veggies look less enticing. So does knowing desert is right around the corner.  

2.   Allow Them to Help
Let them pick a healthy side dish from the store or better yet, put them to work cooking one. If the child is involved they may be more inclined to choke it down or try something new.

3.   Choice is Key
Have healthy options available. They’ll be happier because they’ve had the option of NOT eating brussel sprouts in return for picking out something more delicious. That said, limit unhealthy options as well.  Growing up the only ‘treats’ we ever had in the house were Flinstone vitamins. Needless to say, I’ve grown accustomed to eating my veggies.

4.   Be Sneaky
Hide veggies that are considered inedible by your child into soups, sauces, and pizzas. This trick still works on me. I hate mushrooms but will happily eat them if they’re too small to pick around. Jerry Seinfeld’s wife wrote a whole cookbook on how to sneak more veggies into your kid’s food 

5.   Be Patient
It looks like kids can be stubborn. It can take up to 20 times of trying a new food before they will accept it as a part of life. Ask for one bite and be happy with that. Too much pressure will make for unhappy dinners for everyone.

6.   Be Creative
Try different variations of the same food. Slice it, steam it, serve it raw, add a little dipping sauce for good measure. Apparently kid’s like small things. Try cutting it up into little pieces and see if that makes a difference.

7.   You Are a Role Model
If you’re complaining about brussel sprouts, chances are your kids aren’t going to be fooled into eating them either. So, take one for the team and eat yours with a smile on your face.


If all else fails and you want to gross out your kids on purpose, there’s also a cookbook for that. It’s full of recipes for completely edible foods prepared to look like absolutely disgusting items. After all your troubles I would not be surprised if it’s easier to get kids to eat ‘catlitter cake’ than steamed broccoli. Good luck folks. 








Filed under Cooking for kids

2 responses to “Picky Eating – It’s Science

  1. Thanks for your simple tips for picky eaters. Picky eating may be the results of improper feeding techniques such as threats, bribes, punishment, and pleading. Even rewarding toddlers for eating may backfire. One study found that children who were rewarded for eating a new food were less likely to eat the food later than were children who were allowed to try new foods on their own. Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Wrap it up B! « Digitally Delicious

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