Health Advice



Dealing with picky eaters -- as kids and as adults

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

In the current remake of the classic Life cereal commercial, Dad brings a box of Life cereal to his daughter Mikey, who's a notoriously picky eater. He's delighted when she likes something that's good for her.

The commercial portrays a scene that is familiar to many parents. In one study of kids 3-11, 13% to 22% of the kids were picky eaters. And according to a new study published in Pediatrics, the behavior can get ingrained by age 4 and persist throughout adulthood.

Research shows that picky eating can stem from everything from parental pressure, inherent personality traits and specific biological responses to tastes and smells, to the introduction of solid foods before 6 months of age and the late introduction of chewy foods. Fortunately, you can help your child overcome it -- and adults can overcome it too. Here are some strategies:

-- Kids respond to positive messages about food (that's why fast food ads get their attention -- "Happy Meals!"). Instead of "Don't eat that," say, "Let's try this."

-- Repeated mini tastes may make a food acceptable.

-- Be enthusiastic about the choices you present.

-- Kids want to make their own decisions, even when very young, so give them options.


-- Also, involve your child in cooking. Kids like to eat what they cook!

For adults who are food adverse, cooking also can help make foods more appealing. Talk therapy to ease anxiety may also be effective. A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that anxiety and disgust at food tastes and smells often go together.


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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