Healthy eating with picky eaters

Growing up, my mother was very focused on instilling healthy eating habits in us. I remember as a child we never had soda (or pop, depending upon where you live), sugary cereals (oh, I wanted them so badly!), or a pantry filled with chips and cookies. When we did, it was a complete special treat. I really grew up knowing no other way. This was just the way it was at home. We always had nutritious breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. At each breakfast there was some fruit. Every lunch we had was perfectly balanced (even our lunch bag lunches)… there would be a sandwich, fruit, crackers, olives, cheese slices, yogurt… it was delicious! And dinner, oh… dinner. We’d always have a vegetable or two with our meal, and I remember loving that as a child. It would always be a “surprise” what veggie would be served – corn, broccoli, lima beans, spinach, carrots… crazy, right? I actually looked forward to a veggie.

I must say that this has stayed with me. Even going away for the first time to college, and having food bars open to me morning, noon and night… I never deviated from what I knew. My girlfriends used to laugh that I always made sure I had a salad with my meals. But that’s just me.

And throughout my life, I can honestly say that I have never been a picky eater. I love food. I may not have the time to cook and to bake and to experiment in the kitchen as much as I’d like, but I have always had a love for it and appreciated yummy-delicious and nutritious food!

So… as a mother, you can imagine my shock and disbelief when I tell you that I have boys who are picky eaters. Yup, they each have a one track mind when it comes to certain foods for certain meals.

Breakfast – they want pancakes. Pancakes aren’t bad, it’s just that it’s ALL they want.

Lunch – they want peanut butter and jelly. That’s it.

Dinner – they want peanut butter and jelly. Yup, that’s it.

I have been trying my best to incorporate healthy foods into their diets. I feel myself becoming my own mother… I don’t want soda in the house, chips, cookies or even (gasp) Coco Puffs. I know that pancakes, peanut butter, jelly and whole wheat bread isn’t bad for my sons – but trying to get them to eat or try anything else is a difficult (difficult) task.

For the past two months I have been trying to bring a new fruit or vegetable into the mix. Bananas, apples, oranges, kiwis, grapes and melon. The tough part is, they refuse to sometimes even try things. They automatically think it’s “yucky” or “gross.” I will say, bananas have become part of my son Benjamin’s must-haves, so I feel like I have accomplished something big with that! I mostly worry about William and Alexander who truly are two of the most picky eaters in the world.

As odd as this sounds, they won’t eat macaroni and cheese, but they will devour my father’s red clam sauce with spaghetti. They won’t eat saltines with cheese, but they will ask me to make my Nana’s famous clam dip for their crackers.

I take what I can get. I really do.

Our home is a healthy eating home, I just need them to try more foods and expand their taste buds a bit.

Let me ask you… what kind of foods do you have in your home for your kids to instill healthy eating habits?

I remember my mom used to make me all different kinds of healthy snacks — celery with peanut butter and raisins, cheese plates, apple slices with cinnamon, strawberries with some whipped cream, cottage cheese (yes, I love any kind of cheese God has created!), crackers, yogurts (I love all different kinds of flavors).

I would love to hear what kinds of healthy snacks you make for your children. How can I combat my picky eaters and keep them eating healthier foods?

William and Alexander and Benjamin can’t live off PBJ’s their whole lives!

Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by Healthy Choice. Please visit for more information on Healthy Choice and to print a free $1 off coupon.

Healthy eating with picky eaters was last modified: July 26th, 2017 by Audrey McClelland
SHOWHIDE Comments (10)
  1. I feel your pain! I’m struggling with my kids, but my one concession is when I find a healthy food that they will eat – they eat a ton of it. Even if it means 2 bananas a day or canned green beans every night for a week. What I really need to do is be a more creative cook and then maybe I could shred veggies into dishes they would eat. Except I swear even those dishes are too “tasteful” for my kids! Good luck

  2. I have the same struggles. And to top it off , my daughter is allergic to nuts…so no PB and J for us! My kids do like spaghetti, so I try to add fresh veggies into the red sauce, usually I have to chop it very finely so they don’t really notice. My older daughter LOVES ranch dip, so i get her to try new veggies once in a while if I add a big blob of “ranch dip” to her plate. She mostly just licks the ranch dressing but I feel like she is at least trying it. And, how weird is this, my son, who eats NO VEGGIES and NO MEAT loves avacado!

  3. my kids are opposite, they are not picky eaters….they can eat everything in sight! lol

    But my brothers kids are picky eaters…until they started school. My brother paid for school lunches, which were a variety of different types of food and well balanced.

    When they first started, they wouldn’t eat and then come home starving. After a few weeks, they realized, they eat or they go home hungry. School food sounded yummy after that! 🙂

    Now they eat all kinds of different types of food as well as variety of veggies.

  4. I just put the food out like I would for a party. Just a little plate of fruit slices or veggies. I don’t say anything about it. I pick at it as I walk by. Sooner than you think, my girls were eating it too.

  5. I always thought my son was a picky eater.. but no one else seems to think so-I guess he’s is just very selective and does not eat a great big variety of food-what he does eat is pretty healthy. He will not touch a hot dog or pizza with a ten foot pole. He likes yogurt (vanilla only), bananas (the only fruit he’ll eat but he eats 3 a day), brocolli, avocado, loves rice and pasta, and chicken. He will not eat any kind of sandwich or drink juice, he will only drink water and at times milk. He does love cereal such as Cheerios and Rice Chex but those he usually eats dry as a snack. He likes homemade mac and cheese but not baked just mixed with the cheesy sauce . Hey..when I write this all down.. I guess he’s not so picky after all.

  6. My daughter is very picky – she’ll love a certain veggie/fruit/meal/cereal for a month, then suddenly hate it. We’ve gotten to the point where she’s back to loving pizza and will have a sandwich now and then… after a very long few months. We just try to keep offering up different foods and hope that something sticks. I’ve been thinking of trying the muffin tin idea, where you put out a variety of diff healthy foods in each muffin tin cup. I’m thinking my 6 year old might like the presentation and give things a try.

    She loves ranch dip too – so salad and veggies get dunked; also likes (weird) ketchup with broccoli, but at least she’s eating it!

    Good luck!

  7. A friend of mine has a blog (she is also a chef). This is one of her suggestions for babies…..”When my babies can eat small bites, I start making pancakes filled with grated vegetables- beets, zucchini, squash, carrots, etc. They end up being mostly vegetables with just the batter to hold them together. They love the batter/bread and without realizing it, are becoming aware of flavors that they will later enjoy in a more adult version.” I have done this with my baby and he loves it!

Healthy eating with picky eaters was last modified: July 26th, 2017 by Audrey McClelland