Having children of her own humbled dietitian Melinda Johnson:

When I became a parent, I expected feeding kids to be a breeze. After all, I was trained as a dietitian and had made plenty of balanced meal plans. I knew that adding a food with vitamin C to an iron-rich meal would help the growing child’s body absorb more iron. I knew that certain foods were choking hazards and best avoided for small children. However, what I was not prepared for was the battle: the psychological warfare that comes into play when a 4-year-old turns out to have a mind of his own – and refuses the same meal he loved last week because it’s now “icky.” It’s enough to push a parent over the edge.


Johnson got fellow dietitians to weigh-in on parental food battles they’ve had with their children:

“Having my own children has been the biggest slap in [the] face to my dietetics education. I remember my child-free self, telling clients that they should just keep offering foods and eventually they will eat it. While that might be true – eventually – I never imagined I would have to keep offering foods for years. In general, I make sure that I have some foods at dinner that I know are winners and some foods that will likely need to be introduced [over time].” – Jody Klutz, a registered dietitian nutritionist and lead dietitian for The McCahill Group in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Here’s another:

“With four kids, every night is a struggle. I think the biggest struggle for me is having them eat a variety of foods. I have about four go-to dinners: tacos, spaghetti, chicken and rice, salmon – and then mix and match sides to add some variety. One thing that helps is serving food on divided plates made for kids. The kids want each section to be filled – so, at a minimum, three food groups are represented.” – Kelly Schriver, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of k.schriver, inc., based in the greater Atlanta area.


Johnson’s advice to parents to reduce “bribes, nags and battles over broccoli”:

The underlying theme in all these stories is to keep your cool. Feeding kids is a tough job, and it’s completely normal for your child’s picky palate to get under your skin. However, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Stay the course and serve a variety of healthy food, and your kiddo will end up getting the nutrition he or she needs.


Read the rest of Melinda Johnson’s article in U.S. News and World Report here.

More PediaBlog on picky eaters here.