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8 Simple Tricks to Please the Picky Eater

The dinner time fight. It might as well be held in a boxing ring and announced with the ding of a bell. If you have kids, you probably know the fight. There are different ways it can go, but the conversation will involve the following phrases, "Just try it," "You only need to eat one (two/three) bites of it" and "You liked it the last time I made it." The end result is usually the same: "I don't like it!"

So maybe you have tried playing it cool, "You don't have to eat it." That works. Absolutely. It avoids a fight. I use it. But there are other things you can add to your repertoire to get them more interested in dinner time.

RELATED: Sympathy for the Picky Eater

1. Eat outside

Everything tastes better when it's served with a side of fresh air and sunshine. I try to have family meals outside as often as possible. For whatever reason, my kids eat more when we're outside. Maybe it's primal. Who knows? But it works.

2. Can't eat outside? Have dinner picnic-style on the floor

The only whining you will hear is your own when you try to get up.

No, you're not going to do this every night, but it can be a special weekend treat to throw a blanket on the kitchen floor and serve dinner on paper plates. The only whining you will hear is your own when you try to get up.

3. Use color

My kids love bright colors and I try to incorporate as much color on the table as possible, from the serving dishes to flowers to the food itself. It doesn't have to be elaborate—a pretty machine-wash tablecloth and a couple of bright serving bowls make them "ooh" and gets them to the table.

4. Offer a variety of small snacks to go with the main meal

I use ramekin bowls and fill them with crackers, apple slices, grapes, cheese, carrots, whatever I have on hand. That way, even if my boys aren't eating the main dish I know they're getting enough to eat and I'm not catering to their specific requests.

5. Once a week, let each child plan a meal

Yes, you'll probably end up having hotdogs and macaroni and cheese, but it helps them feel grown up by choosing what everyone will eat. And who knows, they might choose something other than their usual go-tos.

6. Presentation is everything

When I was in the hospital for a few days in April, my 3-year-old ate my mushy, unseasoned hospital food simply because it was delivered on a covered tray. You don't have to buy a covered tray, but try making meal time an event a preschooler can anticipate.

7. Have leftovers

Rather than make seven dinners a week, make enough for the family to have leftovers on two to three nights. That way, if your daughter's favorite food is spaghetti, you can serve it to her for several meals while the rest of the family has something else. You're not catering to her and she might still opt for a few bites of the meatloaf or chicken tikka masala instead.

RELATED: Why I Give My Son Cookies for Breakfast

8. Serve breakfast for dinner

The fight that happens at dinner time doesn't seem to happen at breakfast. Is it the foods, the time of day or the fact that you have more energy at 8 a.m. to deal with any complaints? Whatever it is, if it's been a particularly rough day and you can't bring yourself to climb into the ring come dinner time, heat up the griddle, scramble an egg or just pour a bowl of cereal and call it a night.

Image via Twenty20/joianina

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