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Mama Drama: Expanding Food Choices for Your Picky Eater

Dear Mama Drama:

(photo credit)

My preschooler won’t eat anything except macaroni and cheese. I’m afraid to give him other things because if he doesn’t eat it he’ll be hungry. I see other children, even younger than him, eating a wide variety of foods. I am amazed that they will eat things like tofu and vegetables.

How can I get my son to eat a wider variety of foods?

~Scared of starving

Dear Scared:

Many children have difficulty expanding their food choices once they have found a favorite food. Macaroni and cheese, PB & J, and mashed potatoes are common favorites. They may like the texture, smell, or associate a positive experience with that food. However, we have to offer them other foods on a regular basis if we want them to make other choices. Our job as parents is to provide healthy options for our children to eat, not to force them to eat it.

Children may need to try a new food several times before they develop a preference for it. Having a family rule that everyone tastes each type of food offered at a meal is a good way to start. Varying the ways that you prepare food can also make a difference. You should not be a short-order cook, but cooking foods in a way that your child is more likely to eat them ensures a better chance of success. If your child doesn’t like slimy foods, don’t offer cooked spinach. Instead, offer him spinach salad with yummy cranberries or mandarin oranges and a sweet vinaigrette dressing. As parents it is important to model trying foods we previously disliked as well.

Sometimes children are more willing to try new foods if they can dip them in something familiar. Barbeque sauce, salad dressings, and honey are just a few choices that may make a new food more appealing for your child.

Some children (and adults) don’t like their food mixed or touching. To those of us whom this does not bother, it doesn’t always make sense. But rather than forcing the issue, simply use plates that have sections in them to separate the foods. It’s an easy fix that eliminates an unnecessary battle.

If your child misses a meal or two, he will be hungry but will not starve. If you have provided healthy, kid friendly food to eat and he has refused to eat, then you have done your job. Be sure you refrain from rescuing your child on these occasions by giving him the mac and cheese after he’s refused to eat other foods you’ve provided.

There are times when extenuating circumstances may be impacting your child’s willingness or ability to eat other foods. Some children have sensory processing issues that make eating different food textures almost unbearable. Others have very sensitive senses of smell that may cause them to avoid foods. Subtle reactions to unknown food sensitivities or allergies may also be an underlying reason. If you have concerns in any of these areas, please consult your pediatrician.

A great resource for healthy eating ideas is They even have a page specifically for picky eaters.

How do you other Mamas get your picky eaters to expand their food choices?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Thursdays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in the next column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.

Contest: Kidliga Dish Sets for Boy and Girl, Plus Cookbooks (a $70 value!)

Livliga is excited to give away classy dinnerware sets and a darling book for your kiddos this season.

 It’s that time again! Mile High Mamas is always excited to present fellow mamas with a fun giveaway and this gift is so charming and on queue for family dinner this winter. Boulder-based Livliga. is introducing Kidliga, its newest line of dishware sets, and this time, the plates are right-sized for the tots in your home!

May we present to you one of the cutest sets of dishes in the Mile High area! The first is adorned in blue accents, for the little Mr. in your world. It includes a plate, cup and bowl that don a boy fishing, a little turtle and a honeybee nest. The second has the same theme, but this time ornate with light pink for the little Miss. Both include the storybook, “Sammie and Sax in the land of Quinoa: The Search for a Balanced Meal.” It’s a delightful adventure about youngsters on the search for a balanced meal.

The book is helpful to read while snacking and eating nutritiously and it just won a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. More than just a storybook, it is also a well-designed teaching tool, providing recipes, a teaching guide, and subtle lessons about a balanced meal. And speaking of balanced meals, this giveaway also includes four amazing cookbooks just in case you’ve run out of kitchen creativity! Every great recipe begins with any number of ingredients. No matter how big or small your meal may be a few simple tricks can take the ordinary to extraordinary.

easytomakeThat’s when your dish becomes Easy to Make, Hard to Forget!

Easy to Make, Hard to Forget: The Basics is the first in a series of cookbooks outlining ten simple techniques for making your meals Easy to Make, Hard to Forget. Forty recipes with easy to follow directions are included. 

Easy to Make, Hard to Forget: From the Herb Garden is filled with simple tips on how to make herbs the superstar of your dish. Scrumptious recipes spotlight dill, mint, basil, cilantro, and more. Volume 2 in the Easy to Make, Hard to Forget cookbook series offers over 30 recipes specializing in using fresh herbs.

Easy to Make, Hard to Forget: Salsas, Dips, & Sauces is ready to party! The much anticipated Volume 3 in the Easy to Make, Hard to Forget series reveals a few secret salsas, dips, and sauces recipes, including BBQ sauces. More than 60 super simple recipes to ensure your guests are wowed with salsas, dips and sauces!

Don’t be afraid of the word “spice” in Easy to Make, Hard to Forget: Spice It Up! Only a few recipes will leave your tongue tingling. The fourth book in the Easy to Make, Hard to Forget series reveals over 25 delectable recipes for main courses, side dishes, a few sweet treats, and your own make-at-home spice mixes utilizing an assortment of some of the thousands of spices found around the world. These cookbooks are sure to be an asset in your kitchen, and will inspire you to create new meals that will look fabulous on your kid’s new dishware set!

Kidliga dish set.jpg ve=1&tl=1Livliga is a dinnerware and healthy lifestyle product company that was established in Boulder, Colorado in 2011.  Founder Sheila Kemper Dietrich was inspired to make a change towards the obesity epidemic facing us today. Her contribution has been to create portion-controlled tableware that is beautifully designed and built to last. Learn how to love your kitchen a bit more at, or at They can also be found on Twitter under @LivligaHome. And please don’t forget to drop by for the latest scoop on what you should be dishing out in your kitchen!


Livliga is pleased to give away one Livliga dish set and a cookbook. Retail for one dish set is $49.95 and cookbook for $17.95. Contest deadline is March 10, 2014. You may enter as many as five times.

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This Holiday Season, Ho-Ho-Hold On and Think Before You Eat

One for you… one for me. One for you…two for me. One for you… three for me.  That’s my philosophy on Christmas cookies.  I’ve never met a Christmas cookie I didn’t like.  I actually celebrate Hanukah but cookies, I have found, are very inclusive.

It also seems to be my philosophy on (just kill me now) Thanksgiving pie—whether it’s apple, blueberry, pecan, or yummy pumpkin pie. Mm-mmm!

I confess, I always put on a few pounds in November and December, and it’s amazing how much harder it is to get those couple pounds off then it was to put them on. But this year has to be different. This year I am training for a spring marathon, and I don’t want any extra baggage weighing me down.  

The #1 Way to Reduce Calories for Your Family

Fried foods, over-consumption and too much fat all add excess calories to our diets. But sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are, above all, the most consistent caloric contributor – no matter your child’s age, ethnicity or gender.

What are sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)?

SSBs are anything you drink that has added sugar, and can include beverages like soda, fruit juice and even fancy coffee drinks.

 What’s wrong with sugar-sweetened beverages?