Nutrition Made Simple Podcast Episode 18: 5 Nutrition Tips For Picky Eaters

This week, Nicole Aucoin and Ashley Osterman talk about picky eaters and five proven strategies to empower more adventurous eaters!

These nutrition tips are simple and actionable, so make sure you tune-in to all five. What’s worked best with our family is #5!

This episode paired with the Healthy Kids Cookbook is the perfect option to get you started if you have picky eaters at home.

Are You Looking For Healthy Recipes The Entire Family Will Love?

5 Nutrition Tips for Picky Eaters

Make it a family affair

Let your kids pick out what fruit or vegetable or protein they want to try. Or maybe they’ve tried it before and didn’t like it and want to try it again. Getting them involved in the kitchen, getting them involved in the choosing is going to help them be more interested in the trying.
Open up the Healthy Steps Nutrition Cookbook, and really let your kids decide what recipes look good to them.

Try different preparation methods

Try roasting or air frying vegetables for a crunchy, crispy texture.
When you are trying new foods, you have to try them 12 to 15 times to know if you really like it or not. Try different preparation methods or seasonings so that you can see if you really like it or not.

Friday, try day

Use the Friday, try day strategy – make it fun, get your kids involved, and pick a day in your household to make a try day. 
Let kids be involved with what foods they’re going to try. Let them be involved in the preparation method, maybe even shopping for that food, picking it out so that they have a little bit more buy-in with the new food that they’re trying.

Start with just one to two bites

Try new foods at the beginning of the meal when you or your kids are the most hungry. 
No one is going to try something new and really understand if they like it, if they’re trying it when they’re completely full.

Only try one new food at a time

We don’t want to overwhelm kids when trying new foods. Keeping it simple is so important.
Choose one new food that they want to try, and then pair that with foods that they already know and love. And then incorporate that new food into their regular rotation.

HSN Recipes To Try Where You Can Sneak Veggies In


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Episode Transcript:

Nicole Aucoin (00:04):
Welcome back to the Nutrition Made Simple podcast. On Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition, shouldn’t be complicated, which is why we focus on a simple habit based approach, when working with clients. I’m your host, Nicole Aucoin, registered dietitian and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN Mentoring. I’m also the author of the Healthy Kids Cookbook: 100% Kid-Approved Recipes, the entire family will love. In this podcast, we will be teaching you how to take one step at a time to becoming the healthiest version of yourself. All right, today, we are talking about a popular topic when it comes to working with kids and families, picky eaters.

Nicole Aucoin (00:53):
Ashley, our director of nutrition education, and one of our awesome dieticians on staff and I discuss, I’ve proven strategies to empower more adventurous eaters. These nutrition tips are simple and actionable, so make sure you tune in to all five. What’s worked best with our family is actually the last tip that we discuss. We have twin ten-year-olds and they actually helped me create the Healthy Kids Cookbook. Yup, they were a part of the journey, every step of the way. They approved every recipe in that cookbook. What was really cool after we released the cookbook is that Jason, my husband and I get text messages and Facebook posts of other kids in the kitchen with the Kids Cookbook, eating healthy because they were inspired by our kids in the cookbook.

Nicole Aucoin (01:47):
Know when you have those ideas and you think, hey this would be really cool if it worked, well this one worked. The whole idea of the cookbook was to empower kids to become more adventurous eaters, and it’s working. So this podcast paired with the cookbook would be a perfect option for you to get started, to help your kids become more adventurous eaters. But why is it important? Well, simply put different colors of vegetables and fruits provide different vitamins and minerals. If you want to become the healthiest version of yourself, you need to have different colors, different vitamins and minerals, you need to get a balanced diet. And a balanced diet is through eating lots of different types of foods. I hope you enjoy this episode on five strategies for picky eaters, and we will get to it right after this message.

Nicole Aucoin (02:43):
Do you know someone that’s looking to get healthy or a parent who struggles with a picky eater? I think we can all think of some. I would love for you to take a screenshot and share this podcast episode with them. We would love to help other parents with some simple and effective strategies to help their kids become the healthiest versions of themselves. If you post it on social media, please don’t forget to tag at @healthystepsnutrition, so your friends can find some awesome free help. Also, we always have free bonuses and additional podcast related to specific episodes, if you click the link in the show notes. So click the link in the show notes after you listen to this podcast and you will get some awesome bonuses. Thank you for joining into this podcast. And now enjoy this episode on picky eaters. Ashley Osterman, welcome back to the Nutrition Made Simple podcast.

Ashley Osterman (03:40):
Thanks, Nicole, always so happy to be on and chat with you about simple strategies for our listeners.

Nicole Aucoin (03:45):
So last time we came on, we talked about tips for a healthy family. And we mentioned the Campbell family, because we’re doing family nutrition and documenting their entire journey, which is so fun. But one of the things that we struggled with with that family or not struggled with, but a problem that we had to overcome with that family, and many families have the same problem, is picky eaters. Yeah, picky eaters can be children or even adults. And it can be overwhelming to try new foods or retry something that you’ve had a bad experience within the past, but there are five great tips for helping picky eaters become more adventurous with their palette. Before we get into those tips, let’s talk about why you want to be more adventurous.

Nicole Aucoin (04:36):
Now we know that different vitamins and minerals come from different colors of foods. And if we’re only eating the same four things every day, we’re not going to get all those vitamins and minerals that we need to optimize our health. Yeah. You know, research shows that most Americans do not eat anywhere near the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. And I feel like those are sometimes most type of foods that we are picky with, whether we’ve had a bad experience in the past, we don’t like the way something tastes so we never try it again, and we have that negative connotation in our head about it.

Nicole Aucoin (05:13):
But when using these tips, these strategies, you can start to reopen up that pallet and become more adventurous, and then get more of those vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your body, that’s going to help you thrive and be the healthiest and wells’ version of yourself. All right. I love it. Let’s talk about tip number one. We have to make it a family affair. So we all know those parents that they’ll even say, “I’m like a child when I eat, I don’t eat that many things, I don’t like that many things.” And a lot of times that trickles down to the kids.

Ashley Osterman (05:47):
Absolutely. That’s my mother-in-law. She only eats white foods, mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets. And so I have to tell you, when I first met my husband, he was not an adventurous eater.

Nicole Aucoin (05:58):
I wonder why.

Ashley Osterman (06:00):
Yeah. It’s because he really wasn’t exposed to these types of foods as a child, same way with children. Maybe you have a child who just wants, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets all the time, and you think, Oh gosh, I can’t fight tonight, so I’m just going to go ahead and give it to them. But in reality, we need to start exposing kids and exposing those picky eaters to all types of foods. And the very the first tip is to do it together, give them autonomy, let them pick out what fruit or vegetable or protein they want to try, or maybe they’ve tried before and didn’t like. Getting them involved in the kitchen, getting them involved in the choosing is going to help them be more interested in the trying.

Nicole Aucoin (06:44):
I think that’s really the foundation right there, parents do not want to fight with our kids about food. Right?

Ashley Osterman (06:49):

Nicole Aucoin (06:49):
There’s already so much stress going on in the day, you do not want to fight with your kids about food. One of the things that we do with family nutrition coaching is, sit down with the entire family, open up the Healthy Steps Nutrition Cookbook, and really let the kids decide, what recipes look good to you. This wasn’t the direct intention of the cookbook, and I’m so glad that it’s been the result. But Jason and I get text messages all the time from parents saying, “My son was so excited to try Brody’s favorite recipe.” Because they’re labeled like, Brody and Cooper’s favorite recipes. They’re so excited to try these recipes of other kids now eating them. So maybe they’ll like them. It’s positive peer pressure, right?

Ashley Osterman (07:33):
Absolutely. They’re like, “They look like me, they look happy eating that meal or that recipe. I think I can try it too.” And let me tell you though, those English muffin pizzas are definitely a hit for the picky eaters.

Nicole Aucoin (07:45):
We made that with the Campbells over the weekend, it was awesome. And we have our neighbors are in, and they’ll say, “Hey, we’re going to send our kids over to your house to eat.” And it’s because it’s a third person saying, “Hey let’s eat this,” or, “This is what’s the option available.” Even Jason’s niece who’s a pretty picky eater, she stayed with us for a few days, a year or two ago, and she only ate chicken tenders, and macaroni and cheese before. And we’re like, “Well, we don’t have that. And if you’re hungry this is what you’re going to have.”

Nicole Aucoin (08:15):
And guess what? She agreed, by day two she was on it, there was no argument about food, it was completely fine. But I understand why parents do not want to put themselves in a position where that could be stressful. So if you get kids to buy in and let them pick what they want to try, it’s going to overall be better. And I would recommend if you have picky eaters, go to the Healthy Steps Nutrition website, buy the cookbook, so that you can open it up as a family and decide, Hey, what recipes look good this week? Let’s let’s go ahead and make those. And let’s be real too, it’s always so much easier when the whole family is eating the same thing and we’re not having to make different meals for different people. You can’t be a short order cook, it’s just not possible.

Ashley Osterman (08:59):
Oh goodness. Our second strategy for picky eaters is to really start to try different preparation methods. So let’s say for example, I have a child who absolutely dislikes, gives me the frown face, sticks out their tongue about broccoli. Well maybe they had it steamed before, maybe it was one of those frozen broccoli’s that were steamed in a bag, or one of those things that the texture’s not that great.

Nicole Aucoin (09:24):
No one likes that, I don’t like that.

Ashley Osterman (09:26):
The truth is maybe you don’t hate broccoli, maybe you just dislike the way it was cooked in the past or flavored.

Nicole Aucoin (09:33):
Yeah. I love roasting vegetables. Our family loves roasting vegetables, Brody and Cooper. They will eat roasted vegetables, whatever type of vegetable it is because it has that crunchier consistency. Or even putting it in the air fryer is a really good option. And remember when you are trying new foods, you have to try them 12 to 15 times to know if you really like it or not. So trying different preparation methods, trying different seasonings so that you can see if you really like it or not.

Ashley Osterman (10:05):
Yeah. And get getting the family involved in that. When you’re trying a different preparation method, ask them how it tastes, how does it feel in their mouth? “Describe the texture. And would you try it again? And if so, would you do anything different next time you tried it?”

Nicole Aucoin (10:19):
Love that. It’s fun to start asking those questions right to kids, because then after a little bit they start saying like, “It needs more salt. Oh it’s too salty. Oh, it’s this, oh it’s that.” And that’s fun. They’re experimenting with our palette, and they’re starting to understand and connect the dots between what they taste and what the actual thing is, that’s making it taste like that. I love it. All right. Tip number three. This is one of my favorite tips for picky eaters, Friday, try day. And Ashley, this came from you, but we really were wrapping our heads around, what could we do with the Campbell family to get Reed excited about, Friday try day?

Nicole Aucoin (10:56):
And we came out with this chart. So it’s on the fridge and we’ll actually post a picture of it in the show notes so that you can see what it looks like. But we sat down, I sat down with Reed and we went through all right, what is one thing that you’re going to try? Then we’re going to put down how we made it. What does it taste? What was the texture like? And then there’s a thumbs up, and a thumbs down. Thumbs up is like, “Yep. I’m going to eat it again.” Thumbs down is like, “Alright, I don’t like it. Let’s try a different thing.” But it’s fun for him because it’s become a game now.

Ashley Osterman (11:30):
Yeah. You’ve gamified the process, you’ve made it interesting and exciting. And in fact he did all three weeks in one day. He wanted to do three weeks of Friday try day, because he was that excited about it. He’s a, from what I know, a pretty picky eater parents. So if you have a picky eater out there too, use this strategy, make it fun, get them involved, and pick a day in your household to make a try day.

Nicole Aucoin (11:52):
Yeah. Friday try day, I absolutely love it. Let kids be involved with what foods they’re going to try. Let them be involved in the preparation method, maybe even shopping for that food, picking it out so that they have a little bit more buy-in with the new food that they’re trying. All right. Tip number four, start with just one to two bites, and do it at the beginning of the meal. No one is going to try something new and really understand if they like it, if they’re trying it when they’re completely full.

Ashley Osterman (12:20):
Tying a new food can be so overwhelming. And if I give you a whole plate filled with roasted broccoli, I don’t know if you want to try it, maybe just one or two bites first. And like you said, Nicole, before anything else, when they’re most hungry and they can actually determine if they like it. Ask them probing questions when they’re eating it, how does it taste? What is the texture? What would you do differently to this? It’s so fun and educational to start getting kids talking about food. Maybe you’re eating broccoli, can you explain to them that that’s actually the flower of the broccoli plant, you’re eating a flower right now. So really getting them involved in starting small one to two bytes.

Nicole Aucoin (13:04):
That’s key. Remember you want to give them those bites at the beginning of the meal before they’re completely full. And you want to make sure that there’s meal time, we’re not just grazing all day, so they actually get to a point where they are a little bit hungry before meal time.

Ashley Osterman (13:18):
Yeah. Tip number five. Only try one new food at a time. Again, we don’t want to overwhelm them. Keeping it simple is so important. So let’s choose one new food that they’re trying, and then pair that with foods that they already know and love. And get them to incorporate that new food into your regular rotation.

Nicole Aucoin (13:39):
Absolutely. And Ashley, realistically we can get creative with ways that we’re introducing foods. If you have like Uber super picky eaters.

Ashley Osterman (13:47):
Oh absolutely. We got to be sneaky sometimes.

Nicole Aucoin (13:50):
There’s a book called Deceptively Delicious that I’ve recommended for countless families who have super picky eaters. But one of my favorite tips is, pureeing vegetables, putting it in like pasta sauce where you can’t really taste it. The other thing that is awesome, this came from you is, the frozen riced cauliflower in smoothies.

Ashley Osterman (14:12):
Yes. My goodness. You wouldn’t believe it unless you try it. But frozen riced cauliflower makes your smoothie have a consistency and texture of a milkshake.

Nicole Aucoin (14:23):
I actually don’t ever add ice into my smoothies anymore, I just put frozen rice cauliflower and it tastes delicious. And I have to say, I was like Ashley, come on. You’re pulling my leg here. This is not going to taste that good, and it really tastes delicious. And guess what? I’m getting one cup of vegetables in-

Ashley Osterman (14:43):
At breakfast.

Nicole Aucoin (14:44):
… At the beginning of the day.

Ashley Osterman (14:45):
Yeah. Though the recipe for the cauliflower smoothies, we have two of them on our website. We have the strawberry shortcake one as well as a chocolate peanut butter one. Both have cauliflower in them and they can be made into smoothie pops as well for those kids.

Nicole Aucoin (15:00):
The strawberry shortcake smoothie pop tastes like those strawberry shortcake popsicles that we had when we were kids. Maybe I can’t confirm or deny, but they taste delicious. That’s actually Cooper, our daughter’s favorite recipe in the dessert recipe in the cookbook is, the strawberry shortcake smoothie. She prefers it over many other things that we have as treats in the freezer. She’ll grab that if they’re made. And it’s delicious in, again, we’re getting one cup of vegetables in a popsicle.

Ashley Osterman (15:34):
Amazing. Some of the other recipes I love that you can add or sneak veggies in are, egg muffins on the HSN website for under recipes. The kids can decide what veggies they want to put in. Do they want to do peppers or mushrooms or spinach? You can get them involved in adding the vegetables to those muffins. And we have some other great recipes, including zucchini lasagna. And we also have the egg roll in a bowl, which are both awesome family recipes to get extra veggies in for the family.

Nicole Aucoin (16:03):
Absolutely. And you know what? The meatloaf muffins, you can add peppers topped up real small in there, and they’ll still taste delicious too. So there are absolutely a few recipes that you can use to kind of sneak vegetables in, if you have those Uber picky eaters. But you’ll start off small, try different preparation methods. Sometimes the crunchy texture goes over way better than steamed kind of mushy, which I get it frozen steamed broccoli or cauliflower is not the best. In the bag in the microwave. But you know, we’ve all had it growing up.

Ashley Osterman (16:36):
Yes, of course.

Nicole Aucoin (16:37):
So try those different preparation methods, give Friday try day a chance in your family, and see if that is something that you guys can implement on a regular basis. We’ve done it with a ton of families locally, and it’s worked really well. Remember you want to have a non-food reward at the end of the allotted time for Friday, try day. So non-food reward, it might be a car, might be a switched game or whatever your kid likes the most. Non-food rewards when they do it for a specific number of weeks for us, our family nutrition program is 12 weeks. So we do after 12 weeks.

Nicole Aucoin (17:13):
And a lot of times the parents and kids will come up with whatever their prize is. Start with just one to two bites. Don’t overwhelm your kid with half their plate vegetables, if they’ve never had vegetables before, that’s just a little bit too much. Start with just one to two bites, eat that first. And remember only one new food at a meal. Let’s not get crazy here, getting kids to force them to have new food, that’s not going to foster a positive relationship with food.

Ashley Osterman (17:39):
We hope you guys use these five tips, if you have picky eaters at your house.

Nicole Aucoin (17:45):
I hope you enjoyed that episode. I think two of my most tips are the making it fun. Friday try day, has worked so exceptionally well with the kids that we implement it with. You have to make it fun and let them pick what they want to try. You don’t have to try a ton, but they just need to try one little bite consistently. I was recently doing a nutrition seminar at a big gymnastics facility, Twisters that we work with locally in South Florida. And one of the girls raised her hand and she said, “I think you’re right about trying things multiple times, because I had to try broccoli five times before I started liking it.” And I was like, “Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that story, because I think you might inspire other kids to want to try some new foods too.”

Nicole Aucoin (18:30):
One thing that is definitely helped kids try new foods is the Healthy Kids Cookbook. So if you are looking for a kid friendly cookbook that has recipes, the entire family will love, click the link in the show notes and you can purchase that cookbook on Amazon. There’ll be a link right up at the top. Thank you so much for joining this episode. If you have a picky eater or you are looking to expand your palate and you’re looking to eat healthier, we would love to help you. We have dieticians on staff that specialize in kids and families and a hun of nutrition coaches. If you go to, you can find a Healthy Steps Nutrition coach near you, or you can apply for coaching to work with one of our dieticians or nutrition coaches on staff at our HQ location. I hope you enjoyed this episode on picky eaters. Please don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss another episode. We’ll see you back next week.

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