Food Fight: Living With A Picky Eater

My name is Shari, and I live with a picky eater. Now when I say picky, I don’t mean he doesn’t like anything. I mean he won’t try anything. I can count on two hands the foods my son will actually eat that don’t include copious amounts of sugar. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa. 

I have friends whose kids will eat things like quinoa, pasta, smoothies, bell peppers, and any kind of fruit. My son won’t even try mac and cheese or hot dogs. I thought those were kid staples. 

Right now, he’ll only eat a couple fruits, pancakes (because syrup) chicken tenders, peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly), pizza (that’s new) and grilled cheese (as long as the cheese isn’t stringy). The struggle is real, friends. 

I know I can’t force feed him, and I shouldn’t become a short order cook making him different things from what we’re eating, but I’m really struggling. It’s nearly impossible to get him to try any different foods. I’ve tried fun presentations, cool plates, treat bribes, etc. Nothing. So I just keep giving him what I know he’ll eat, and I feel like I’m failing him by not doing better. 

I’ve talked to our pediatrician, and she says my job is to offer him healthy foods, and it’s his job to decided whether to eat them. But, I absolutely hate wasting food. I mean I scrape out the peanut butter jar to make sure we don’t waste any. So when I prepare food for my son to eat, and he refuses, I get upset because I have to throw it away. It becomes a very stressful situation, and that’s not good for either of us.

So I’ve taken to Pinterest to find any possible recipes that will pass my son’s inspection and evaluation. Some have flopped badly, but I have found success with a couple that I’d like to share with other parents struggling to feed their kids, too. 

Noah Approved Recipes (and that’s saying a lot)

Spinach Pancakes: We call them “Super Gecko Pancakes” 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies

Carrot-Berry Applesauce

I would love to hear your advice or see any recipes that work for your families. Good luck out there parents!

Shari is a Wisconsin native who recently returned to the Madison area. She is a passionate Badgers, Packers and Brewers fan, and she is excited to be surrounded by all things Bucky again! She loves to laugh and make others laugh, especially her son Noah (born 2015) and husband Jason. Shari is a stay-at-home mom to Noah, dogs Ace and Lucky, and cat Alonso. Her secret to successful “zoo keeping” is organization and wine. She holds degrees in Public Communication and Public Relations from UW-Eau Claire where she also worked as a writer before her son was born. She is looking forward to making Madison home again and to all of the adventures to come. Allons-y!


  1. I think the biggest thing is that you really cannot turn it into a struggle. What about smoothies? My kids will eat a lot of stuff in the blender that they don’t love in real life. I think your doc is right– keep offering what you are eating, and don’t fret if he doesn’t like it. The Daniel Tiger “Try New Foods” episode is really good, too, and so is anything Ellyn Satter has to say about it. Keep going– you’re doing great!

    • Thanks, Sarah! No smoothies either. I use that episode all the time. We have it in book form. I will look up Ellyn Satter. Thanks for the tips!

  2. My rule is that my kid has to try one bite of everything, then she can decide whether to continue eating it or not. It’s helped to force her to try new foods without the stress of forcing her to eat all of it. A lot of time she’ll pass, but occasionally she’ll be surprised that it actually tastes good. I also watch a lot of fun cooking videos with her (we like the Tasty page on Facebook) and let her pick which videos she wants to watch. I think it helps keep her a little interested and excited about food.

  3. Thanks for the ideas! I also have a very, very picky eater. The only thing that seems to work is it cut all snacks so he’s really hungry at dinner time. Not a great solution because then you have a hungry, crabby (and constant whining for snacks) kid pretty much all afternoon. Otherwise putting food on tooth picks (sometimes) works for us. The struggle is real and I feel your pain!

  4. I have a very picky eater, as well. We have done OT at various places to ease her into accepting new foods but haven’t been very successful. I have used the cookbook The Sneaky Chef to add things into things she will eat. That helps with nutrition but not the underlying issue of trying foods. My daughter won’t drink smoothies either and won’t eat any fruits or vegetables. It is very frustrating!

    • Yes! Everyone suggests smoothies, but that’s also a no. I’ll look into the sneaky chef. But yes, would like to address the whole issue. Good luck to you!


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