Diets for picky eaters can be hard to put together. If you're a picky eater, a healthy diet may seem out of reach. Years of choosing the same foods over and over can also make you less willing to change.
But don't lose faith. It's easier than you think to make just a few changes to your diet to support your health. These meals make simple swaps for healthier ingredients, and even with a picky palate, you might discover that you enjoy healthy foods after all.
How to Plan Healthy Meals on a Picky Eater Diet
The goal for any eating plan is to find an array of healthy, easy meals. Picky eaters may be turned off by healthy foods they perceive as tasting bad. This ick factor is the reason many picky eaters choose comfort foods such as pizza, tacos and fried foods. With a little tweaking, you can still enjoy your favorite foods.
You can determine how many calories you should eat to reach your goal weight with this helpful calcuator from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Feel free to use this calorie guideline as you plan your meals each day.
These tasty breakfast recipes are savory enough to be enjoyed at any meal. All nutrition values in the meals below were calculated using the USDA FoodData Central Database.
Bacon and Cheese Omelette
Some ham and cheese omelettes contain almost an entire day's worth of fat, calories, and sodium. This version has 185 calories, 21 grams (g) protein, 10 g fat, 4.4 g saturated fat, 1.6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber and 402 milligrams (mg) sodium.
Combine one egg and 1/4 cup egg whites (or the whites of two eggs), one slice of Canadian bacon (roughly chopped), and 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese in a non-stick frying pan coated with cooking spray. Cook about four minutes or until the egg turns from liquid to solid; fold over one side of the omelette and press gently. Cook about one minute more.
You can get creative with this omelette by adding 1/4 cup of your favorite chopped vegetables, try Swiss cheese instead of cheddar or substitute one slice of turkey bacon for the Canadian bacon.
If you prefer something sweet for breakfast, try a breakfast sundae. This one has about 262 calories, 7.5 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 5.7 g fiber and 52 mg sodium. Layer one 5.3 oz. container of nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh blueberries and 1/2 cup halved strawberries in a parfait glass. Dust each layer with slivered almonds.
Substitute your favorite fruits for the blueberries or strawberries. If you don't like vanilla yogurt, use your favorite flavor. If you don't like nuts, sprinkle each layer with granola instead.
Lunch doesn't have to be the same boring thing day after day. Try these lunch ideas and change them up with your favorite ingredients.
Personal Pita Pizza
This pizza is crispy, cheesy, and satisfying. It has 345 calories, 22 g protein, 10 g fat, 5.8 g saturated fat, 43 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber and 628 mg sodium.
Split a 6-inch whole wheat pita into two rounds and place it on a baking sheet; spray each round lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Top with 1 large sliced tomato, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. Bake the pizzas for 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until the cheese is melted, and the crust is golden brown.
If you don't like tomatoes, try chopped green peppers or mushrooms. If you love pepperoni, add a few slices of low-fat turkey pepperoni.
Creamy Chicken Salad
Store-bought and most homemade chicken salads get their creamy texture from mayonnaise, which adds calories. However, you won't know the difference when you taste this lightened-up version, which gets it flavor from tangy Greek yogurt. Each serving has around 242 calories, 33 g protein, 4 g fat, 1.9 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 607 mg sodium.
To make, put 1/3 cup of plain, 2% Greek yogurt and one 5 oz. can of chicken breast, drained, in a medium bowl; combine well. Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery, 1 tablespoon of sweet pickle relish, 1 teaspoon of honey and a dash of pepper. Mix well and serve on a bed of lettuce or place in a butter lettuce leaf and eat taco-style.
If you don't like celery, add grapes instead. If you enjoy nuts, stir in a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.
These healthy dinners for a picky eater will help keep your nutritious meal plan on track.
Using ground turkey instead of beef and fat-free toppings cuts fat and calories in these tacos. With 1/4 cup of cheese and four ounces of meat mixture per two tacos this delicious dinner has 540 calories, 43 g protein, 20 g fat, 9.9 g saturated fat, 48 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber and 754 mg sodium. The recipe makes about four servings.
To make, brown one pound of ground turkey breast in a non-stick skillet. Add one 1-oz packet of salt-free taco seasoning mix and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Warm eight whole wheat tortillas in the oven. Make each taco by placing chopped lettuce down the center of a warmed tortilla; top with the meat mixture, chopped tomato, cheddar cheese, and a spritz of lime juice. Roll up the tortilla.
These tacos are also delicious with diced avocado, salsa, or corn. You could even spread a thin layer of refried beans on the tortilla before adding toppings. Feel free to add refried beans on the side sprinkled with a tablespoon of cheese.
Baked Chicken Fingers
Many picky eaters love fried chicken. Eating too many fried foods can increase your risk for many diseases. Instead, make this baked chicken fingers recipe adapted from The Skinny Kitchen. Each serving of three chicken fingers has about 270 calories, 24 g protein, 1.9 g fat, 0.9 g saturated fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 1.8 g fiber and 437 mg sodium.
To make, line a baking pan with foil and coat the foil with cooking spray; mix 3/4 cup of cornflake crumbs, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic or onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cut one pound of chicken tenders into 12 equal pieces; dip each chicken piece into plain greek yogurt and coat with the cornflake mixture. Place each piece of chicken on the prepared baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until crisp and cooked through, turning the chicken halfway through cooking.
Serve with your favorite steamed vegetable or a green salad.
Healthy snacks are a part of any healthy eating plan and particularly for a picky eater. Skip them and you might binge on whatever unhealthy food is nearby. Eat a couple of these snacks a day to help keep hunger pains at bay.
- Your favorite raw veggies with 2 tablespoons of hummus (70 calories)
- A wedge of Laughing Cow cheese with your favorite raw veggies (60 calories)
- 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese topped with 1/2 cup diced pineapple or your favorite fruit (145calories)
- Berry yogurt popsicle (51 calories)
Other Foods for Picky Eaters
Following is a list of other healthy foods picky eaters may enjoy:
- Air-popped popcorn tossed with olive oil and Parmesan cheese
- Part-skim string cheese
- Nut butter on celery sticks or apple slices
- Nut butter, banana, and honey on whole wheat bread
- Guacamole and baked tortilla chips
- Dried fruit or canned fruit, if you're looking to limit added sugar, look at the nutrition facts and choose one without added sugar.
- Frozen grapes
- Rice cakes topped with nut butter and jelly, Greek yogurt and fruit or hummus
Diets for picky eaters don't need to be complicated and you don't have to sacrifice taste and health. There are many simple ideas that make your favorite foods healthier, such as switching to whole wheat breads and pastas, using Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise and using lean ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. Make a list of your favorite foods and explore how to make them healthier or incorporate them into your favorite recipes.