Surviving Your Picky Eater


Before my husband and I had kids, we paid a visit to my brother-in-law's young family. My sister-in-law had made lasagna for dinner, to our delight and the three-year-old's dismay. Lasagne - stonesoup.jpg

"Clean it, Daddy!" he pleaded, holding up a bite of lasagna noodle besmirched with meat sauce and cheese.

With a roll of the eyes and suppressed sigh, his dad complied, scraping every bit of saucy goodness off the pasta.

This went on for a few more bites, as my brother-in-law slowly turned purple with rage. Finally, my nephew pushed him a noodle too far, and his father drew the line in the parmesan: "No more! I--am--not--a--NOODLE--CLEANER!!!" (Cue the tantrum, the hollering, the tears, the marital bickering, etc.)

We still snicker about this incident, decades later (that same picky-eating nephew just got married a couple weeks ago), but picky eating is a commonplace, genuine source of frustration for families. While I've largely succeeded in finding a rotation of 7-10 meals that everyone in my house will choke down, over the years we've had to work our way around aversions to cheese, vegetables, lentils, fried rice, rice pilaf, and scrambled eggs, to name a few.

I totally blame my husband's side of the family, since the only things my sister and I balked at, growing up, were weirdo Chinese offerings like chicken feet at the dim sum place or "hundred-year-old" preserved eggs, just the typing of which still makes me want to gag.

Century egg sliced open.jpeg

Unless you are or have one of the small percentage of folks with severe selective eating disorder (now called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder or ARFID), the aversions pass or at least become tolerable. In this past post I mentioned some techniques for dealing with picky eaters in your home, to which I would add signing your child up for the Market's POP Club. Introducing your kids to the Power of Produce by little taste samples and prizes and incentives might just expand those eating horizons!

And even if you think you aren't a fan of some foods, I would suggest the same advice offered to parents of picky eaters: try it again and again, prepared different ways. For example, I always thought eggplant was not a personal favorite.

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Then I realized that everything tastes wonderful drizzled with olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and thrown on the grill or under the broiler. EVERYTHING. I also kept at it and found I really like Baingan Bharta, the Indian preparation of eggplant and the eggplant dip baba ganoush.

If you're interested in how the French train kids to have varied palates, I recommend reading

13012708or, barring a move to France, you want to understand what drives our sense of taste and food preferences, and what can be done to change them...


In the meantime, stay away from the vending machines and synthetic flavors, and keep offering fresh, real food. See you at the Market!