(Guest Post) Picky Eater? Adding Fun to Your Meals Can Help

Have you ever wondered why some children are picky about what they eat and others aren’t? Maybe you even have a picky eater at home.

Picky Eater

There are a lot of reasons for picky eating, some physiological and some behavioral. It turns out that picky eating is often driven by something other than taste. Who knew? Try simply adding more fun to your meals and see what happens!

5 ideas for adding more fun to your meals

Pump up color. A recent Cornell University study took a different approach to the issue of picky eaters. The study found that most children respond more to color and variety in food than taste. More interesting, the study found that what kids find visually appealing can be very different from what adults like.

For example, children like plates with more options and more colors than adults do. According to the study, kids like plates with 7 different items and 6 different colors the best. Compare that to adults, who favored plates with only 3 items and 3 colors the best.

Play with your food. It turns out that children respond very positively (or negatively) to the way food is presented. If it’s presented in a design or fun shape, food is more appealing to children. Most kids think of foods like Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes, cereal with a “face” made from fruit, or peas arranged in the shape of a heart, as “fun.”

Try it different ways. It turns out that many picky eaters react to things other than taste. That makes sense. Have you ever heard a child say “I don’t like that,” when they haven’t even tasted it? What are they reacting to – certainly not the taste. It may be the smell, the color, the texture or the way it’s presented. Preparing a food in a different way may be more to your child’s liking.

Lighten up. Children also react positively if they perceive a meal as “fun.” I still remember eating at the homes of my friends when I was growing up. Some meals were fun; others weren’t. When it was fun, I usually ate whatever they served. When the family took mealtime more seriously, it wasn’t as much fun and I was more picky about what I ate.

Be a good role model. As parents, we need to be role models. It’s hard to get your kids to drink milk when you’re drinking soda, wine or some other drink. It’s also difficult to “make” your kids eat their vegetables when you don’t eat yours. So, model the behavior you want your kids to follow.

Make “fun” the main dish at your next family meal! Serve foods with a lot of color and arrange the food in a fun way. Then, laugh at the colors and shapes you’ve created – have fun and you may find that your picky eater isn’t so picky after all.

About the author: Vitaerobics Co-owner Michael McCauley is a personal fitness chef and nutrition specialist, author and speaker. Vitaerobics has helped more than 750,000 people create their own healthy family future. Get his FREE eBook "Do You Wish Your Kids Ate Better: Use Mealtime to Create Healthy Habits and a Healthy Family Future" at: www.HealthyFamilyFuture.com/GiftForYou.


  1. When our kids were picky eaters, we involved them in making the meals. They would choose what we were to eat, then they’d help me make it. It helped our picky eaters start to eat! (They were 5 & 9 at the time.)

  2. When my children were younger they were picky eaters. Their father would put items on their plates and demand they just try them. He was so gruff about it that the kids didn’t like any of it. Now as they are older, there are many of those items that they love. I would have absolutely loved to have this knowledge back then. I would have saved many fights

  3. I will definitely try adding more color! I think it would help my kids be more interested and I might add new fun foods to our diet like colorful full veggie, fruits, rainbow quinoa!

  4. Nena Sinclair says:

    Interesting post! I think, too, that if you let kids help you decide some of the foods in the meals, it helps, too. Give them a choice of 2 or 3 healthy options. They’ll feel good that they were included in the decision making and they’ll be more likely to eat.

  5. Danielle Williams says:

    Oh My Gosh do I EVER have a picky eater! She is the total opposite of her sister! Her sister likes spicy and bold flavors and the little one likes it PLAIN! lol Love this though I am SO going to try this!!!

  6. when i baby sit some kid parent say they do not eat this or that and then when they ate it they got a treat and then they tell me they wont go lay down i had the kids sleep after lunch for up to 2 hrs and then they ate all the food they got

  7. Stephanie Foster says:

    These are very good ideas. I will be adding more color to my meals.

  8. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen is a great idea too! my kids loved eating things that they help to make. Your ideas are great ones too.

  9. Great ideas – variety is good for adults, too, so the whole family can benefit from more bright and fun foods!

  10. Thanks for all the tips, i have a very picky eater im always challenged!!

  11. Kathleen Downes says:

    My son is such a picky eater. But the funny thing is he always eats lots of vegetables but doesn’t like pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers or things like that.

  12. Great ideas. Thanks for the guest post. I’m going to have to try the color.

  13. My half- brother if the pickiest eater I’ve met. He doesn’t eat meat,veggies, or fruit.

  14. Kimberly Frazee says:

    I sure do enjoy this post with my lil picky eater. I worry so much about her sometimes and my girlfriends grandchild is even worse with being picky. It makes us nuts sometimes.

  15. I don’t know why but, to get my kids to eat peas I told them they were really rolypolies. It worked.

  16. mara zamora says:

    Thank goodness my daughter is not a picky eater but i’m deifnitely going to try making the food into fun shapes JUST for fun lol .

  17. Ana Cláudia says:

    oh 😀 nice ideias

  18. It’s also good explaining to children what are the right foods to eat once they are capable of understanding.

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