How to Raise A Picky Eater

Check out this post from my friend, Katie Kimball from  Katie is an expert at curing picky eaters and getting kids involved in the kitchen! She is an inspiration to me and everyone who she works with. I’m excited she is sharing this guest post along with a free training just for the Unconventional Kitchen community. 


Ever joked that a spicy dish would kill your taste buds, it was so strong?

You might not be that far off.

Children have about 10,000 taste buds and they are replaced every two weeks. But like everything else it seems, our bodies don’t replenish taste buds as efficiently as we get older. The average adult only has 5,000 taste buds.

In other words: There’s a scientific reason that many kids get classified as “picky eaters!”

If you want to make sure your child remains a picky eater forever, eating exactly 7 foods, the process is simple. And think how much simpler life will be for your child with only 7 items to choose from for meals!

No lengthy grocery lists!

Totally simple meal planning!

Never having to learn to prepare anything new!

Lock in that life of simplicity by encouraging picky eating:

1. Feed your kids only food they love to eat.

Food is about enjoyment and being satisfied, right? Why bother having a power struggle about what your kids eat? Save that for important things like homework and always keep chicken nuggets in the freezer. You signed on to be a short order cook when you became a parent anyway.

If that’s not your style, you could always go old school:

2. Force kids to finish their meal, no matter what.

You believe food isn’t about enjoyment, and you’d rather ignore the fact that kids taste twice as sensitively as adults. If you can eat it, they should be able to eat it. Food is obligatory.

Plus your kids like all those wild flavored crunchy snacks. No way do they have sensitive taste buds! You’ll probably:

3. Focus on artificial flavors: seasoned chips, cheesy crackers, and zingy dips.

Show the world that your kids aren’t bland people! The MSG will be sure to dull their palate to the subtle sweetness of fresh veggies. That will save you tons of time scrubbing and cutting produce. And your kids will be perfectly suited for the caf in high school – pizza and french fries, every day.

If you do notice your kids aren’t into big flavor, maybe go with the statistics:

4. Assume your kids will not like vegetables or complex flavors.

Hey, you’re a progressive mom. You believe the research: all those taste buds mean your kids will prefer bland foods only, so why fight it? There’s a reason kids’ menus at restaurants only consist of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, pizza and pasta. Go with the flow and keep the good food for the adults until your kids are older. They can expand their palate then.

And definitely, no matter what:

5. Never let your kids work with food.

You wouldn’t want them to get any crazy ideas in their heads like, “Hey, there might be more than 7 foods out there that I would enjoy!” I mean, think how much more complicated your cooking and grocery shopping will have to be then!

Plus, I’ve also heard that it’s scientifically proven that your taste buds are dulled to certain foods if you prepare the food. For adults, this means that anything someone else cooks tastes better to you (so true, right?). But for children, with all those taste buds making the flavors perhaps TOO vibrant, this phenomenon may actually help them eat with more gusto. We can’t have that happening if we want to preserve our picky eaters.

The Dark Side: When Picky Eating Comes Back to Bite You

Ok, ok. I hope you can hear the sarcasm dripping.

Baking rolls together with little ones

I don’t really want you to try to raise picky eaters. In fact, I hope you believe that it’s dangerous to allow and accept picky eating as your kids grow.

Here’s why:

  1. They’ll be less likely to try new foods, even once their taste buds have decreased, simply because they’re not used to it.
  2. Their diet will likely be less balanced.
  3. They’ll be more susceptible to the junk food culture, which preys on our tendency as humans to gravitate toward salt, sugar and fat (nutrients we need that used to be in short supply).
  4. You run the risk of teaching them by proxy that what you say is important, healthy food, really isn’t.

So even though kids really do taste more vibrantly than adults, that doesn’t mean that kids should only eat 5 foods or should be allowed to skip their vegetables. It just means we should be sensitive to seasoning their food a little less but still always provide healthy, varied choices for them to try.

I recommend starting at the bottom of the list to reverse any not-so-great habits you might have allowed to creep in (or to avoid letting them start).

Kids Cook Real Food - on the set (26)

Get your kids involved with food.

If they learn to wash and cut vegetables, inhale the aroma of sauteing garlic, and experience the beauty of many ingredients coming together to make a meal — and watching the family enjoy their work — you may not have to try quite as hard to broaden their horizons at the dinner table, try new things and enjoy complex flavors.

At the very least, their taste buds will be dulled enough to not despise vegetables quite as much.

And you gain some help in the kitchen.

It’s a win-win any way you spin it – and I want to help it become reality.

This week I’m offering a completely free knife skills class for kids, to take the fear and mystery out of knives for all ages (especially the parents!).



Teach a Kid to Cook


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