Help! I have a picky eater!

Written by Kaiti George

When the average person hears the phrase ‘Registered Dietitian’ their mind instantly goes to weight loss. When I speak of my profession, more often than not I hear ‘I should talk to you,  I need to lose some weight!’  Whereas  Registered Dietitians are a perfect source for weight loss, my profession entails much more than helping people lose weight!

Registered Dietitians, also known as RD’s, are your most credible source of nutrition information and are food and nutrition experts who have met academic and professional requirements.  Each and every day, I work to promote healthier eating habits that aid to prevent and treat illness.  I teach education and cooking classes to make healthier eating a reality!

One of the very common questions I get…My child is so picky when it comes to food.  HELP!!

My best friend struggles with a picky eater, so we frequently talk about this subject!  Below are three tips I highly suggest to buffer some of the battles!

  1. Respect your child’s appetite (or lack of!).  Don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean their plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food. In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give them the opportunity to independently ask for more.
  2. Be patient with new foods!  And don’t give up offering them!  Your child might need repeated exposure (often 10+ times)  to a new food before he or she takes the first bite and decides if they do or don’t like the flavor. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.
  3. Ask for your child’s help. At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. And always remember…you are in the driver’s seat.  Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.  This will create a positive environment in the kitchen.

I could go on and on about this topic, let me know if you need additional tips!

So now is the time to ask your burning nutrition questions!  Let me plant some seeds…

  • What should I eat before and after a workout or sporting activity?
  • I’ve just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Now what?!?
  • What’s all the buzz about gluten free foods? Should I be eating gluten free?

Any of these questions are fair game and questions I am asked all of the time!  Post your questions below and I’ll be sure to answer them for you! Looking forward to hearing all of your burning questions!!!

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About the author

Kaiti George

Kaiti George is a Registered Dietitian and fitness enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in both fields. She is a Registered Dietitian at Hy-Vee in Kearney and also teaches a variety of group exercise classes at the Kearney YMCA. Kaiti is the proud mom of twins, Jenna and Collin. Kaiti is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a Licensed Medical Nutrition therapist through the State of Nebraska. She and her husband Tom live in Kearney with their two dogs, Joe and Murphy. Kaiti prides herself on living an active healthy lifestyle and hopes to give readers great tips and recipes to do the same!


  • A few more tips:
    1. Offer the same foods for the whole family. Don’t be a “short-order cook,” making a different meal for your child. Even if you do this once, the seed will be planted in their little brain….’If I don’t like dinner, mom will make me something else. Your child will be okay even if he or she does not eat a meal now and then.

    2. Offer choices. The questions should not be ‘Do you want broccoli for dinner?” (the obvious answer would be no!). Instead, ‘Do you want broccoli or cauliflower for dinner?”

  • Kaiti, UGH! I so need your help. I have tried all of this with my four, soon to be five, year old and nothing has worked. His food choices are extremely limited – no fuits or veggies, only bacon for a meat, milk for dairy, and a limited number of carbs. He won’t even try or touch foods. Sensory issue perhaps? We are on the list for what they call food school at the Med Center in Omaha, but it’s been nine months and we haven’t heard anything. His behavior goes beyond typical picky eating. He was learning to eat at the time his brother was battling inoperable brain cancer so I think the cancer trumped learning to eat healthy. 🙁 Any advice at all??

    I’ll also be interested to hear what you have to say about gluten-free. It’s such a fad right now. My husband has celiac so I have my own opinions about it. 😉