Last week, I met with the team from Brown and Crouppen for a meal planning workshop. As any parent would expect, the topic of picky eating came up.

I got the following questions:

“How do I make one meal for one family?”

“When they refuse to eat what is offered, do I let them go pick a “safe food” from the fridge just so they have something in their stomach?”

“If they don’t eat anything at a meal, what happens when they end up hungry within an hour later? So, I thought I would tackle ONE approach to address picky eating.”

Engage them in a “Love it, Like it, Learning it” activity. 

 

This activity honors each child’s individual, unique taste preferences. And, importantly, it gives them a voice to help you understand those! When it comes to meal planning, this activity serves an actionable template for how to begin pairing items on their plate. Over time and through conversation, we can help our children learn to be OK with including both preferred and non-preferred foods. To create this simple activity, I offer simple pictures of faces next to the food item on their plate:

  • Happy face (LOVE IT) Will eat/try it 75% of the time
  • Neutral face (LIKE IT): Will eat/try 50% of the time
  • Sad face (LEARN TO LIKE IT, maybe?) Rarely eat or try

Let’s Be Realistic

Now, I have 3 kids, so doing this at every meal would be cray cray. But, they LOVE doing it. And, it makes mealtime playful, fun, and encourages them to try new foods. Jack even told his younger brother Patrick, “How can you mark that you don’t like it, if you haven’t tried it?” Yes, sir.

Want more picky eating resources? Check out our family nutrition page.

Love, Jennifer

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.