12 Tales of Extreme Picky Eating -- & How Moms Helped Kids Overcome Them

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Picky eaters -- we know them, we live with them, and despite how royally frustrating they are, we really love them. That's probably why it's so gutting each and every time they reject a nutritious food in favor of their incredibly small stable of standbys. Sure, you may have lived on ramen noodles in college, but that was out of survival, not personal taste. 

Fast-forward to present day when you find yourself stocking up on your picky eater's preferred brand of macaroni and cheese or enough PB&J fixings to last you through the end of days. Because while they say nothing in this world is guaranteed, there's a 99.9 percent chance that's all your kid will accept for his or her meals.

Because there is safety (and comfort) in numbers, we asked moms to share their most woeful tales of picky eating, and how they were able to expand their child's palette, even if in just small increments. 

  • Hold the Sauce

    1

    "My daughter is part of the plain pasta club. She refused any sort of sauce on top. After a while we figured out it was a texture issue. She hated any chunks of tomato or onion in the sauce. Now I super-puree any and all sauce that we use (and sometimes add an extra puree of veggies) so that it's really smooth. She'll tolerate a little sauce now, which is something. Sometimes I make carbonara because then at least she's getting eggs. If all she will eat is pasta, I want there to be a little something else to her meal." -- Charisse L.

  • Mac and Cheese Only, Please

    2

    "My son only eats three very specific things: one brand of mac and cheese (and the recipe for this brand was just discontinued!) and certain types of chips. By taking baby steps we've gotten him to the point where he will eat half old recipe, half new recipe of the boxed mac (we'd stocked up on as much of the old recipe as we could). He is going to a feeding clinic once a week where he plays with food because even getting him to touch new foods is hard." -- Rachel S. 

  • Not-So-Hot Diggity Dog

    3

    "When West was little, all he would eat was uncooked hot dogs. Double yuck. Then when I finally broke down and bought a ton of them at the store, he decided that he wanted 'round stuff.' That was bologna. He stopped being picky when his best friend came to live with us and wanted to eat more than just processed food. I think it was the peer pressure that finally did the trick!" -- Jane F.

    More from CafeMom: Weird Facts About Picky Eaters That Will Surprise You

  • Peas Out

    4

    "My daughter rejected pretty much everything except for bananas and sweet potatoes as a baby. If I managed to sneak a spoonful of something else in her mouth, like peas, she would actually throw it up. Finally I just started mixing everything with her two favorite items. The idea of peas mixed with bananas made me want to gag but that's the only way she would accept them." -- Jen S.

  • Veggies Need Not Apply

    5

    "I have the world's pickiest child. We hired a food therapist and have made no headway at all. If anything, he's gotten worse. It's definitely a texture problem, and he had a lot of choking issues as a baby, so I think that's part of it. He will eat chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, tater tots, and maybe a round sausage if I am lucky. He also drinks a lot of milk and eats yogurt but not one vegetable and not one fruit. My youngest is an excellent eater, so at least I got one." -- Katy K.

  • Head Chef

    6

    "My daughter is strong-willed (to put it mildly) and everything has to be her idea. I learned early on that if I put something on her plate that wasn't appealing, there was going to be an all-out war. We tried the strong arm approach of telling her this is all that is available for breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc., and got nowhere. She'd rather starve unless it's pancakes or spaghetti. No one was happy. Then a friend of ours gave her a cookbook for kids at Christmas. She loved the idea of cooking a meal herself and feeling like a big kid. We made a deal that we would buy the ingredients for whatever she wanted to make from the book, but she had to eat what she made. Now the kid eats broccoli. If I had known that was the magic trick to get her to eat, I would have bought a cookbook for her a long time ago!" -- Marjorie F. 

  • Little 'Green' Lies

    7

    "We prefer the parental tactic called lying. We've called salmon 'pink chicken'; we called tofu 'chicken'; we called cauliflower 'zombie brains' and broccoli 'trees.' We told our kids our house was not a restaurant but if they really refused to eat what we were serving they could have a PB&J. As they get older, they needed to make their own sandwich." -- Heather M.

    More from CafeMom: Why You Should Let Your Picky Eater Make a Great Big Mess

  • The Plain Cheese Sandwich Picker

    8

    "My son is super picky. We used to jokingly call him 'Five Foods Jake.' He's gotten a little better over the years but he still lives mainly on pasta with butter and Parmesan, peanut butter sandwiches, and bagels with cream cheese. We've dealt with it by taking the pressure off. We stopped making him taste everything and always make sure that at every dinner, there's at least one thing that he likes. Even if it's just rolls or potatoes. And I try to give him the few truly healthy foods that he likes as much as possible. He's gotten much better about trying things on his own. He usually doesn't like it, but he tries it! And last summer he did try watermelon at summer camp and loved it. In fact, he said, 'Why didn't you ever make me try watermelon? I could have been eating it all this time!' We just had to laugh." -- Amy O.

  • Taste Maker

    9

    "When my oldest daughter was first eating finger foods, she was fairly picky, which came as a surprise because she accepted so many of the purees we offered her when we started solids. When our pediatrician heard I was catering to her, he told me to stop. 'She eats what you eat. If she's hungry she will eventually eat, don't give in. She won't starve.' I followed that advice and have managed to raise good eaters since then. I think it's easier to do when they are little versus as they get older." -- Cheryl C.

  • Sneaky Eats

    10

    "My kids will not touch a vegetable. They were pretty good eaters as babies but around their preschool years it became game over. There are real tears when a vegetable comes anywhere near their plates. It's really frustrating. I keep trying to remind myself they will eventually grow out of it and I sneak vegetables in where I can -- like butternut squash risotto (we call it cheesy rice) and spinach ground up and added to quesadillas. I know the 'sneaky' way isn't considered the 'right way' but it gives me some peace of mind. Obviously we are far from getting to be balanced eaters but right now we're doing the best we can." -- Michelle R.

    More from CafeMom: Cute Food Might Work on Some Picky Eaters but It Doesn't Impress My Kid

  • You're Toast

    11

    "My daughter Aya wanted toast but not warm or brown. There are no kids pickier than mine and if there's a way to overcome it, please let me know." -- Tahanny K.

  • Nuggets or Bust

    12

    "We were having Chinese food, and my son Alex demanded chicken nuggets. We ordered sweet and sour chicken to accommodate him. It took him three hours of crying, screaming, punching, etc,. to get him to take a bite, and he give it a thumbs-down. Then, after two minutes he retracted the thumbs-down for a thumbs-up and asked for more. All because he didn't want 'food from China!' There is no rhyme or reason to it. It just takes patience." -- Tara R.

    More from CafeMom: 10 'Food Rules' That Could Change Your Picky Eater into a Foodie

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