Nutrition for the Picky Eater

I am frequently asked about how to get kids to eat, especially about how to ensure healthy nutrition for the picky eater.

A few quick “rules” to healthy eating

Don’t offer junk

Don’t make it easily available at home… most kids can’t drive to the store!

Hungry kids will eat what’s offered

Let them get hungry between meals. No grazing.

Use snacks

Not every food group will be eaten at every meal, so use the day to space foods to incorporate a range of nutrition over time.

Think of snacks as mini-meals.

Keep meal time fun

Turn off the tv and have a family conversation about something other than the food.

Plant + Protein

Offer a “plant and protein” every meal and snack to get kids to the 5 a day of fruits and veggies and to give a protein for “staying power”.

This also fills kids up with the good things so they aren’t hungry for junk.

Try it

Enforce “Taste a bite without a fight” after 3 years of age.

Kids should at least taste a bite before they decide if they like it or not.

Forcing more than the bite might cause more problems, so start with just a bite.

Hide it

It’s okay to be tricky and fun: add pureed vegetables to things, use yogurt or hummus dips, put food on a stick, arrange food into fun shapes, be creative.

Limit juice

Juice is not a food. It is mostly sugar – even if it’s 100% fruit juice.

Offer the fruit instead. It comes with more benefits than the juice alone!


This is my first attempt at adding video to my blog.

I apologize for the tilted view… it looked straight on my camera! YouTube limits the length to 10 minutes, and I ended up at 11 minutes, so it is broken into two shorter segments.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Resources mentioned at the end:

My Pinterest page has several boards with recipes and nutritional information, in addition to other kid-friendly ideas! (Warning: if you don’t use Pinterest, it can be addictive. Tons of great project ideas and recipes, educational sites, and other time wasters…)

Kids Eat Right: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ page on scientifically based health and nutrition information you can trust to help your child grow healthy.

By DrStuppy

I am a pediatrician and mother of two teens. I have a passion for sharing health related information.

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