If you have a picky eater in your family you know that mealtimes can be very stressful. There are lots of ideas out there on how to get your picky eater to eat, from sneaking veggies into chicken nuggets and pizza to just letting them go hungry. If you’ve tried it all, family style dining might do the trick.


Being a sneaky chef might work for you picky eater, but that can be very time consuming. And I am not personally an advocate of creating separate meals just for your children to eat — they should eat what you are eating as well. Letting your picky eater go hungry until he gives in can be stressful for you and him. Family style dining makes mealtime easier for everyone. You are cooking one meal for everyone and your picky eater feels like they have more control over what they eat.

The idea is that instead of pre-portioning out plates for everyone, simply place all the components of your meal on the table on different serving dishes. Everyone gets to choose what they want and how much they want of it. You may be surprised by what happens.

When the picky eater feels like he is in control and there isn’t any pressure to eat what is put on his plate, they will end up trying more. But you have to give them the opportunity to try more. Make sure you create balanced meals and combine foods you know he loves with something new. Don’t pressure him to try something right away. Just because he doesn’t immediately pile the brussels sprouts on his plate, that doesn’t mean he won’t decide to try one a littler later on into the meal.

You also have to be a good role model. Make sure you fill your plate up with choices you would like him to make. Talk about making good food choices and why certain foods are healthy.

Reward trying new foods. Make a sticker chart. Every time your child chooses to try something new for himself, give him a sticker to put on the chart. When he reaches 10 stickers, do something special — have a day at the pool or the beach, see a movie or visit the children’s museum. Let your child know you’re proud of them and let them be proud of themselves.

For more tips and tricks about family style dining, see this article: Family Style Meals Help Raise Healthy Eaters.