Category Archives: Picky Eaters

boy and cooked vegetables

Why are Kids Such Picky Eaters?

boy and cooked vegetables


So you’ve got your­self a picky eater?  You’re not alone. In fact, this strug­gle is all too com­mon. If you’re like most par­ents, at some point you find it’s just eas­ier to suc­cumb to the doe-eyed demands for junk food rather than ruin­ing another din­ner over the bat­tle of the broccoli.


We get it.


Chil­dren are nat­u­rally born picky eaters with a fear of unfa­mil­iar foods.  Accord­ing to Dr. David Lud­wig, Head of Obe­sity Pre­ven­tion at Boston’s Children’s Hos­pi­tal, being picky “pro­tects chil­dren from eat­ing some­thing toxic and harm­ful. But they’re also pro­grammed to develop an increas­ingly broad set of taste pref­er­ences. If not, chil­dren would die of star­va­tion after weaning.”


His­tor­i­cally, this nat­ural objec­tion to foods that are bit­ter often helped to keep young ones from wan­der­ing away from parental super­vi­sion to eat poi­so­nous plants, which are also often bit­ter. Even­tu­ally, chil­dren would learn what was good to eat and develop a taste for a vari­ety of foods to suit their dietary needs. Today, how­ever, it’s not so easy to deter­mine what’s good for us and what’s not due to the heavy use of sug­ars, fats, and salt in our food sup­ply. And let’s face it, if your child’s taste buds grow up think­ing that fast food and french fries are the way food tastes, veg­eta­bles sud­denly fall into that bit­ter and unsafe cat­e­gory along­side pot­ted plants and pesticides.


Unfor­tu­nately in today’s world, even with the best inten­tions, highly processed foods are intro­duced into children’s diets from a very early age in the form of sweet­ened yogurts, pack­aged kids’ snacks, over con­sump­tion of fruit juices, and even pedi­a­tri­cian rec­om­mended Chee­rios that are used to develop the pin­cer grasp. So what’s a con­sci­en­tious par­ent to do?


We can help.  Here are the Top 5 ways to get your picky eater back on track to a life­time of good eating:


  1. Don’t force kids to eat foods they don’t want. When a child refuses a food, forc­ing them to eat it will only cause the body to cre­ate a stress response that will be asso­ci­ated with that par­tic­u­lar food for lifetime.
  2. Offer new foods sev­eral times. It will often take approx­i­mately 10–15 attempts to get a kid to enjoy cer­tain foods. Be patient and gen­tle in your attempts.
  3.  Allow kids to play with food. Young chil­dren usu­ally enjoy touch­ing, smelling, and assem­bling their food. Give them the oppor­tu­nity to have fun dur­ing din­ner time!
  4. Offer a vari­ety of healthy choices.  The key to get­ting kids to eat nutri­tious food is to offer vari­ety. Chil­dren like to be in con­trol of what they eat. Nat­u­rally, offer­ing them a “bar” style or “build-your-own” din­ing expe­ri­ence can often encour­age them to pick from a vari­ety of health­ier options with­out feel­ing like they are forced to eat a spe­cific food.
  5. Let kids be the chef!  Feed­ing your fam­ily is an excit­ing prospect for chil­dren. Tak­ing them to the mar­ket so they can pick out fresh foods teaches chil­dren where our foods come from. Allow­ing them to help stir food or clean veg­gies and fruits will also make them feel included and hands on!


When you order from WT Café, your child is exposed to a vari­ety of foods dur­ing their school day.  Let us help you con­tinue your efforts to indoc­tri­nate healthy habits in your child. We know it takes a vil­lage to raise chil­dren, and WT Café is on your side.


Food for the Picky Palate


We love intro­duc­ing kids to new and adven­tur­ous foods. Our kitchens are packed with exotic spices from our culi­nary globe-trotting and we like to share that sense of adven­ture when­ever we can. But the real­ity is that not every child likes try­ing new things.  For those picky eaters, we make sure to always have kid-favorite choices just as sim­ple and deli­cious ready to go.

Ensur­ing a picky eater gets all the nutri­ents they need can be a tough job, as any par­ent knows. Here are some sim­ple tips that can help make your picky eater a healthy eater – with­out all the fussing!

  1. Don’t force snacks or meals on your child if he/she is not hun­gry.  You want to avoid asso­ci­at­ing meal time with stress and anxiety.
  2. Intro­duce your child to new foods before meal­time, when they are hun­gry.  Involve kids in gro­cery shop­ping and teach them about the ori­gins of food and where it all comes from.
  3. Focus on taste, rather than health.  You want to pro­vide the health­i­est meals pos­si­ble, but empha­siz­ing the great taste and yum­mi­ness is a bet­ter way to get your child’s attention.
  4. Make meals fun, excit­ing, and col­or­ful!  The way food is pre­sented makes a big dif­fer­ence as to whether a child will even try it.
  5. Encour­age kids to play with their food. Touch­ing and smelling the food is part of the fun expe­ri­ence of eat­ing!  Help them to look for­ward to meal­time by mak­ing healthy dips to be eaten with raw veggies.

Recipe for a Picky Eater:

Savory White Bean Dip with Pita Chips & Raw Veggies


  • 2 (15 ounce) cans Can­nellini or Navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt (or sub­sti­tute goat cheese for adven­tur­ous eaters!)
  • 1 clove gar­lic, smashed
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 2½ tea­spoon lemon juice
  • ¼ tea­spoon lemon zest
  • ½ tea­spoon salt
  • ¼ tea­spoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO)


  1. Place the beans, yogurt, gar­lic, pars­ley, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pep­per into the bowl of a food proces­sor and process until well com­bined and smooth.
  2. With the proces­sor run­ning, begin driz­zling in EVOO and process until dip is com­pletely smooth.
  3. Lightly toast pita until lightly crispy
  4. Cut sev­eral 9-inch whole-wheat pitas into halves, cut in half again, and then again to get 8 small triangles.
  5. Serve with a vari­ety of veg­gies (baby car­rots, sliced cucum­bers, red pep­per strips are some of our favorites!) on the side.

How important is peer pressure with picky eaters?

Tomor­row, the WT team will be out at The Geneva School where we spon­sor “Tasty Fri­days”. This is pro­gram, in part­ner­ship with the Win­ter Park Health Foun­da­tion, that will help expose stu­dents to new foods in an effort to expand their palates.

Last year when we launched the pro­gram, we brought out a vari­ety of fresh, exotic fruits and veg­gies and watched (and mar­veled) and the dif­fer­ences between the old­est kids and youngest kids. The older kids watched to see who else would grab a plate, before they would take the plunge them­selves. The younger chil­dren, all grabbed a plate with­out a word– for they assumed it was expected.

We know that peer pres­sure mat­ters in just about every area, but food too? A fan­tas­tic arti­cle, pub­lished this month on BBC, says that “school lunches can help fussy eaters try new foods”.

Researchers found that four out of five chil­dren in Eng­land who ate school lunches had tried food at school that they had not tried at home. The pro­gram com­mis­sioned the sur­vey because too many par­ents packed lunch from home fear­ing their child wouldn’t eat lunch at school.

.…it seems that once at school there’s a desire to fit in with every­one else and even some pos­i­tive peer pres­sure to boast about the vari­ety of what foods you can eat.

Our work with the Be Healthy Pro­gram fur­ther val­i­dates this research. Last year, when we served lunch to an entire Kinder­garten class at St. Andrew Catholic School, we found that the kids over­whelm­ingly ate their lunches because they were eat­ing Whole­some Tum­mies as a group.

So maybe the secret is more expo­sure as a group– let kids come together and try new foods in a group set­ting (like we are doing at The Geneva School tomor­row with Tasty Fri­days) or even as part of a class cur­ricu­lum. What bet­ter way to learn about your fruits and veg­gies than to TRY those fruits and veggies!