Healthy Meals For Picky Eaters Adults


Healthy meals for picky eaters adults are a great way to promote healthy eating and have fun doing it.

What many people do not realize is that shopping at home is one of the best nutrition habits you can adopt. I have found healthy meals for picky eaters adults coming in handy. So, read on to find out how you can start living healthy as well.

How to Make Healthy, Kid-Friendly Meals For Picky Eaters

Picky eaters, choosy eaters, fussy eaters: whichever moniker you use, they tend to have a laundry list of foods that are off-limits.

Though most people associate picky eating with children, it’s also common in adulthood. The average estimate of picky eating prevalence is 15–35% in kids and adults, but the number could be higher than that. Picky eating can be challenging to research (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Fussy eating may be a normal part of early childhood. Even so, stressed parents may grow frustrated seeing nutritious meals go untouched night after night.

Pickiness in adulthood isn’t void of problems either. Picky adults may feel anxiety and pressure to eat the same foods as their peers or coworkers in social or work settings.

And all-in-all, when picky eaters aren’t eating well, they may not get the nutrition their bodies need to function.

Read on to learn how picky eaters can enjoy healthy meals — adults and kids alike.

Three happy young children at a table with their parent during mealtime.
Key components of a balanced meal

Foods and food groups offer a diverse set of nutrients everybody needs to function optimally. Balanced meals come from combining multiple foods and food groups together, which ensures good nutrition and promotes optimal health.

Balanced meals may include a combination of:

  • grains
  • proteins
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • legumes
  • dairy foods (or nondairy equivalents)

Building a balanced meal

  • Choose whole grains: Whole grains include brown rice, barley, oats, whole wheat or whole grain bread, whole wheat or whole grain pasta, and quinoa, and they offer important nutrients like fiber and B vitamins. Consider filling 1/4 of your plate with whole grains (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
  • Power up with protein: Chicken, fish, lean cuts of beef and pork, beans, lentils, nuts, tofu, and seeds are examples of protein-rich foods. Protein foods also offer essential amino acids that help your body make energy and support immune health. It’s recommended to add protein to 1/4 of your plate (6Trusted Source).
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables like bananas, avocados, broccoli, and spinach are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Fill up the remaining 1/2 of your plate with fruits, vegetables, or a mix of both (7Trusted Source).
  • Don’t forget dairy (or similar nondairy) foods: Try including eight ounces of dairy milk or a nondairy equivalent with meals.

The plate method can be a simple starting point for building healthy meals, but it’s imprecise and not generalizable to all foodways and eating styles.

Learn more about the foundations of healthy eating — and how it fits your preferences, lifestyle, and culture — in Healthline’s Definitive Guide to Healthy Eating in Real Life.

SUMMARYEating a wide variety of foods gives your body the best opportunity for good nutrition. Balanced meals are made up of a combination of grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, and dairy.

What is picky eating?

Picky eating refers to an unwillingness to eat new foods or familiar foods. It’s usually coupled with strong preferences for specific foods (Trusted Source1Trusted Source).

Those preferences may be for foods of a certain taste or texture. For example, a picky eater may prefer easy-to-chew or crunchy foods.

In contrast, others may develop strong dislikes for certain tastes, textures, smells, or even the way food looks. Some adults and children may avoid green foods, creamy textures, or foods with strong aromas.

Research continues to try to crack the code on the causes and consequences of fussy eating (8Trusted Source).

Some kids may develop highly specific likes and dislikes regarding food if they live with a sensory processing disorder. Studies also suggest that picky eating may be the result of other internal and external factors.

For example, internal factors that might lead to picky eating include a child’s personality, temperament, or medical history.

Some external factors that may contribute to picky eating are rewards for eating, authoritarian styles of parenting, and pressure to eat when they don’t want to (9Trusted Source).

Though many caregivers and parents may unknowingly create mealtime pressures, it’s clear that forcing kids to eat when they don’t want to is unhelpful (10Trusted Source).

Of course, the problem with picky eating is that it can create eating habits that lack balance and well-rounded nutrition. Compared with typical eaters, studies report that picky eaters eat less fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Some picky eaters may be at risk for lower intakes of vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc (14Trusted Source).

One study saw that 15% of the picky children preferred eating savory snacks versus meals. Still, exact differences between nutrient intakes of picky eaters and non-picky eaters remains unclear (15Trusted Source).

Severe picky eating can be dangerous if it leads to nutrient deficiencies and impaired growth and development.

If you have concerns about your child’s picky eating or have noticed major changes to their eating habits or growth, talk with a pediatrician or a feeding specialist.

SUMMARYPicky eating is characterized by hesitancy or refusal to eat new foods and familiar foods. The causes of picky eating aren’t well understood, though some reports state body-driven and environmental factors may lead to picky eating.

Heads up

Extreme picky eating may indicate the presence of an eating disorder like avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), an anxiety disorder, or another underlying mental health challenge.

Disordered eating can affect anyone, regardless of gender identity, race, age, socioeconomic status, or other identities. It can be caused by any combination of biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors.

Feel empowered to talk with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a licensed therapist or a registered dietitian, if you or a child in your care is struggling.

You can also chat, call, or text anonymously with trained volunteers at the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for free or explore the organization’s free and low cost resources for healing from disordered eating.

Overcoming picky eating in childhood

There are a number of ways to encourage children to try new foods in a way that’s safe, pressure-free, and calm.

The best way to start helping your picky eater expand their diet is to swap the “how do I get my child to eat?” mindset for a “how can I help my child eat?” mindset.

Many worried parents try to counteract picky eating with phrases like “take one more bite for me,” or even rewards, such as “if you eat more veggies, you’ll get ice cream.” But the reality is that pressuring kids to eat when they don’t want to can worsen picky eating (Trusted Source10Trusted Source).

It’s important to offer healthy foods at mealtimes that may fit their preferences.

Here are some examples:

  • For the child who only wants to eat white or beige colored foods: If your child only wants to eat beige foods, you can introduce nutrient-rich beige foods like skinless apples, boiled egg whites, jicama sticks, white whole-wheat bread, and cauliflower rice.
  • For the child who only likes crunchy foods: Children who only like crunchy foods tend to only want snacks like potato chips. Consider offering your child nutrient-rich foods with a crunch like sugar snap peas, baked quinoa, freeze-dried broccoli, and cashew halves. (Just keep in mind that whole nuts are choking hazards for children under the age of four.) (16)
  • For the child who refuses new foods: Make trying new foods fun and less overwhelming by starting with a small amount on their plate. Always include a well-liked food with new foods. Engage in some fun play during dinnertime like starting a green bean sword fight, making a veggie silly face, or dunking homemade nuggets into sauce.
  • For the child who dislikes soft, mushy textures: Offer crisp fruits and vegetables like sliced cucumbers, zucchini, and pears. Consider offering frozen peach slices or blueberries. Add yogurt or cottage cheese to homemade fruit smoothies. Serve air-fried tofu cubes.
  • For the child who shows no interest in vegetables: It can be a good start to offer vegetables in special scenarios like during a family picnic in a park. Including different vegetables at a time like this may allow for more casual exploration and peak your child’s interest in something they might refuse at the dinner table.

Remember, children often want what their parents are eating. Be a role model for the children in your life by eating a well-rounded diet yourself.

Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters You’ll Actually Want to Eat

Don’t worry, these aren’t scary healthy.

Picky eaters—we either know one or we are one. While most of us (myself included) would much rather have a mean slice of pizza or a gorgeous dish of pasta, we all need to eat healthy– including picky eaters. But oftentimes picky eaters avoid vegetables like the plague or only eat healthier foods when they’re covered in cheese. If there’s someone like that in your life, I bet they’ll like these 20 healthy recipes for picky eaters.

1. Sweet Potato Fries

Regular fries really aren’t good for us, despite how often we try to convince ourselves otherwise (sorry, potatoes stop being good for you as soon as you deep fry them). Swap out regular fries for these sweet potato fries; even the pickiest eater in your life will enjoy them.

2. Avocado Chicken Salad

Avocados pair well with everything because they’re fairly neutral in flavor. This avocado chicken salad tastes like the classic, minus all the unhealthy fats you normally get from the mayo. If you or your friend are a really picky eater, feel free to put a slice of cheese on top of your chicken salad sandwich to mask the avocado taste a little more.

3. Zucchini Nachos

Before you come at me, yes I know that nachos are technically unhealthy. However, these zucchini nachos use homemade zucchini chips instead of deep fried tortilla chips, and yogurt instead of sour cream. Feel free to customize these nachos with your favorite healthy toppings.

4. Chicken Burrito Wrap

Just because burritos are high in calories and sodium at Chipotle doesn’t mean they have to be high in anything when you make them yourself. These homemade chicken burritos are easy to make yourself and are fairly cheap, too.

5. Healthier Mac ‘n Cheese

Mac ‘n cheese might seem like it’s for little kids, but not anymore. It can be for you and your picky eater friends with the help of this healthier mac ‘n cheese recipe. Before you start to panic, yes, there is real cheese in this recipe.

Recipes for Picky Eaters

Having a picky eater living under my roof, I’m far too familiar with the frustrations of multiple meals occurring all at once. Luckily, I’m only dealing with one, and she is improving!

That said, I thought a roundup of my most popular kid friendly, picky eater approved recipes might be helpful for all of us. So I polled my Facebook group to get feedback on what’s passing the gauntlet across the board. Below you’ll find the recipes that came up most often as being kid friendly.

 Picky Eater Approved Recipes

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