Tips to Getting Our Picky Eaters to Eat Healthy

As a mom, and at times a wife, of picky eaters, I know how important it is to make food appealing to my people. I have discovered some tricks and tips of ways to get them to eat food they would otherwise turn their knows to.

I wanted to share with you some information that helps to shine light on some ideas and ways to get your picky eaters interested in eating the food you make.

The group at Unilever Food Solutions recently hosted a “select group of chefs and restaurant operators at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone (CIA) to highlight their efforts to help people choose delicious, slightly healthier meals when they eat out through ‘Seductive Nutrition.’ Developed by Unilever Food Solutions after the release of a global World Menu Report, ‘Seductive Nutrition’ nudges guests to choose top menu items made slightly healthier through small changes to ingredients and preparation methods, with more enticing menu descriptions.”

Dr. Wansink mentions in his book, Mindless Eating, the concept that if we make simple, small and doable changes in our food and how we present it, it will be received much more positively. He mentions that we first eat with our eyes, not our stomachs. As a food blogger, I know how important this concept is. Take this example of two different pictures I took of my same exact recipe. If I were to show this to you side by side, which looks more appetizing to you?


As a mother and the primary cook for our family, I know how important it can be to make something look appetizing for our kids and our spouse so that they want to eat what is on their plate. If you notice, restaurants play up this technique to get you to want to order something, and it works. As I sit down and look through the menu, more times than not, I will eat something that is pictured OR something I saw the waiter walk past with for someone else.

Another point Dr. Wansink brings up is that simple and descriptive words in a menu can lead consumers to select healthier menu items. For example, I am a “CREAMY” person. When I see the word creamy, I want to know more and I want to sample it. My mom always looks for the word “SPICY”. I am sure if you think about it, you have a buzz word that draws you into a food selection.  By using these words we can grasp the attention of those eating our foods. This is especially important to do if we need our picky eaters to consume something healthy. When I eat something healthy, I am not looking for bark off a tree. I want something, that despite being healthy, looks and sounds like it is going to be delicious. Words like creamy, spicy and hot have shown to increase a restaurant’s food sales by up to 28%.  Some words that might capture our older children or our spouse who may be on a diet might be “Skinny” or “Weight Watchers” to help them now that a food is healthier. When I told my mom I had a recipe for “Skinny” Pancakes, she instantly asked for the recipe. 

Using vivid adjectives can help capture and peak people’s interest as well. For instance, when I am looking at the salad menu, the “Southwestern” salads always catches my eye first because I know it is going to be flavors that I enjoy… beans, corn, tomato, cilantro. Or if I tell you that this is my “Grandma’s” Pot Roast recipe, you might want to try it because it has been around for a while and is delicious enough to have been passed through a couple generations. If I tell my kids I am making Grandpa’s Sloppy Joes, they might be more inclined to eat it because it has a sense of familiarity by associating it with their Grandpa.

Dr. Wansink also pointed out that our serveware and lighting can effect a persons mode and eating experience. For example, when we ate at my grandparents home growing up, I remember eating on the fine china often. Seeing how nice everything was, made me want to eat better and more quietly. My family growing up had a “paper plate dinner” at least once a week. It was in no way formal and conversations and behaviors were much more casual.

Sometimes, to get my children to eat healthier, I disquise their favorite classics by either adding vegetables or by perhaps changing the way they are cooked. Grilling or baking are great ways to reduce extra calories that come from frying. Take these Healthy Chicken Nuggets for example. They are SO good, taste just as good if not better than their favorites, but they are BAKED! Win for everyone!

“Seductive Nutrition” can be applied both in restraints and our own kitchens. How we describe and present our food is important to help people take an interest in our recipes and meals. I hope this post was able to help give you some ideas to help even your picketst of eaters want to take a bite of what is put in front of them.

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of a sponsored opportunity from the Mom It Forward blogger network for Unilever Food Solutions. As always, all ideas, images (unless otherwise credited), and opinions are my own.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #chefintraining and/or #chefintrainingblog. I would love to see how these recipes take shape in your kitchens.

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  1. Lorna

    Great ideas! It seems like I should know these things, but for some reason I forget to apply them and then become upset when my food is rejected. Thanks!

  2. Kim McCrary

    What a great post! Very informative and helpful for those of us with picky eaters and also for blogging recipes. Thanks. I look for "grilled" and "southwestern" most often on menus.