Spotlight on Picky Eating

Video: Tackling Picky Eating

In this video, Dr. Danielle Liso dicusses strategies to address picky eating and help your child begin to expand their food options.

Tackling Picky Eating

(The PowerPoint was converted to a tagged PDF by SensusAccess.)

Top Ten Tips for Mealtime

  1. Avoid mealtime distractions and clutter.  Be sure that the place where you eat is consistent and that there is not confusion regarding what happens at the eating table.
  2. Limit fluid intake.  Besides water, be sure your child doesn’t fill up his or her belly with soda, juice, or milk.  This may mask the sensation of hunger, making it more likely that your child will resist eating.
  3. Target only one new food at a time.  Preferably, choose a food that is similar to a preferred food (e.g., crunchy, sweet, spicy, soft, etc.).
  4. Set your expectations.  Use first/then language and visuals (e.g., “first chicken, then ice cream”) or a countdown board (i.e., each token represents one bite taken).
  5. Desensitize your child to the new food by offering it in a non-demanding way:  present it on a separate plate, on the same plate but not touching other foods, touching it, smelling it, tasting it, eating it.
  6. Offer choices whenever possible.  Examples might include:  what chair to sit in at the table, what color cup to drink from, which vegetable to try, etc.
  7. Resist the urge to “sneak in” foods.  This may make your child suspicious of all foods and start resisting even preferred foods.
  8. Use condiments to help mask the taste of non-preferred foods or use a chaser (a preferred drink) after a bite of a non-preferred food is taken.
  9. Teach your child acceptable ways to say “no thanks” and “all done.”
  10. Reinforce non-eating behaviors such as sitting nicely, using a napkin, sharing, etc.  This will help make the mealtime positive even if the food acceptance skill is still a challenge.

OTHER RESOURCES: Websites The Reasons I Don’t Like to Eat

Children’s Specialized Hospital: Tips to Help with Feeding Challenges – Real Life Tips for Kids With Autism

USF CARD: Feeding Issues in Young Children with ASD

UM CARD: Picky Eaters: Behavioral Strategies


Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges
by Lori Ernsperge

Treating Feeding Challenges in Autism: Turning the Tables on Mealtime (Critical Specialties in Treating Autism and other Behavioral Challenges)
by Jonathan Tarbox and Taira Lanagan Bermudez

The Disconnected Kids Nutrition Plan: Proven Strategies to Enhance Learning and Focus for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders
by Dr. Robert Melillo

Can’t Eat, Won’t Eat: Dietary Difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorders 
by Brenda Legge

Special-Needs Kids Eat Right: Strategies to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Focus, Learn, and Thrive
by Judy Converse

Food Refusal and Avoidant Eating in Children, including those with Autism Spectrum Conditions: A Practical Guide for Parents and Professionals
by Gillian Harris and Elizabeth Shea

The Eating Handbook for Children with Autism: Comprehensive common sense strategies and tips to get your child to eat!
by Michelle Brown

Pickysaurus Mac 
by Sandra Miller Linha

We hope you found this brief spotlight informative and relevant.  If you would like more in depth training about this topic or another, please submit a training request. Please share feedback with us!