And Just Like That, My Kid Is a Picky Eater

Eating lunch at school with other kids can introduce your children to a new foods - healthy and unhealthy.

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Last week, I was cleaning out my daughter’s lunch box after school, and three-quarters of her lunch was still in there, a warm, mushy mess. Watermelon chunks, red pepper strips, expensive, nitrate-free roasted chicken slices and cheese cubes. Uneaten. Cherry tomatoes were left half-chewed. The crackers and yogurt-covered raisins were, not surprisingly, gone.

This was happening more and more often, and gazing at the sludge of wasted food, I was dismayed. My kid used to be a kid that ate, and ate well. My kid was a kid that had never tasted McNuggets, but loved sashimi and seaweed salad; ate quinoa and spinach with no complaint, and used to eat cold tomato soup for breakfast, then ask for broccoli for dessert. And now?

All of a sudden, my kid is a picky eater. And I am having trouble handling it.

At nearly seven years old, I’m not sure if my daughter has lost her taste for all the good (read: healthy) stuff she used to eat, or if she has simply discovered all the other (read: junky) stuff that also exists. When hungry for a snack, she will dismiss every single option I offer, and I know it’s because she is holding out for junk. Why say yes to grapes or yogurt, when she knows that there are cookies somewhere? Compromise comes with much effort.


Related: A Dietitian’s Guide to Banning Picky Eating


Making it all the more disappointing for me is the reminder of how things used to be, by way of my four-year-old daughter who will still happily munch on an apple, regardless of whether or not she knows that there might be ice cream in the freezer. I really do keep the amount of junk we eat to a minimum, preferring that treats actually be treats, but it’s like the doors to the world of unhealthy options have been opened for my daughter, and I have no idea how to entice her back to the land of organic greens and almond butter.

I try not to make food an issue, but I have literally spent years instilling good habits and a love for a wide variety of foods in my children, and in one school year (yes, I am partially blaming the Dunkaroos and Lunchables of her classmates), all of those efforts seem to have evaporated. But the worst part is, it was not really an effort at all. My daughter was a bona-fide, natural, good eater. And now?

Now she’d rather have cheese that you eat with a stick than my home-made kale chips, and I’m left weeping in my soy milk.

Anybody have any tips?

Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of

3 responses to “And Just Like That, My Kid Is a Picky Eater”

  1. gabriella says:

    I don’t think you have a picky daughter! Picky is having your daughter never want to try any new foods! Like mine!! But we keep trying and now her repetoire of foods she will eat has grown a lot, and most of them are healthy.
    In your case I think she just discovered a whole new world of sugary sticky foods that taste good! I would keep offering the same healthy food that she ate before..she’ll come around. Or the bad mom in me would say let her gorge on a bunch of junk for 2 3 days and see how her tummy feels after that.
    I think she is smart enough to know the how important healthy food is for her and that she needs them to do all the fun activities you have planned for her in the summer.
    I always tell Samantha that her body is like a beautiful sports car and that it needs the best gas out there to keep it running smoothly! It sort of helps.

  2. Vicky says:

    I have the same issue with my son who is also in Grade 1. He tells me he’s too ‘busy’ to eat or the teacher doesn’t give him enough time. When he comes home hungry with a lunch bag full of uneaten snacks, I make him eat those first before anything else. He still eats well but not at school. Lacrosse season has just started. I’m hoping a few practices on an empty stomach will get him to understand that he needs to eat to have energy.

  3. Lisa says:

    Now I have a picky kid. When she was little she would eat… my mom has pictures of her eating spaghetti with the sauce (she claims now she doesn’t like sauce). If its some sort of sweet food she has no problems trying it, but otherwise no luck. I can’t even go to typical “kid” food. I was reading a recipe for little pizza pockets I believe on this site that said “what kid can pass up pizza?” MINE! No pizza, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, all kinds of kid-friendly standards. Usually its because she won’t try it. She loves peanut butter, but that won’t help me come September when she starts school. I’m trying at dinner now to make sure she can help pick what we’re eating, and there is something that she likes, but she has to have one bite of everything. Some days it works better than others.