6 Nutritious Snacks for Picky Eaters (2023)

Young children are infamous for being picky eaters. Up to 50 percent of children are described as picky eaters by their parents or caregivers. Trying to feed a picky eater is easily one of the most frustrating aspects of caring for a child.

If meals were up to the little one, each one might revolve around chicken nuggets, pizza, or macaroni and cheese. While delicious, these foods lack the essential nutrients a growing child desperately needs.

One popular method for breaking the stalemate is to use dessert as a bribe. The promise of something special is usually all it takes to break the resolve of a picky eater and nudge them to finish their dinner.

Using dessert might be an option for dinner (though experts warn against doing it too much), but it’s not something that can be used during snack time. The trick is to combine the two and create a snack that tastes like dessert. It might sound crazy, but there are plenty of healthy snack options out there that are just as delicious as dessert.

It’s important to note that being a picky eater isn’t limited to young children. Roughly 30 percent of adults self-identify as being picky eaters.

The best strategy for kids and adults alike? Offer tasty snacks they couldn’t possibly turn down.

6 Snack Ideas for Picky Eaters

Finding healthy snack ideas for the morning or afternoon isn’t usually difficult. Fresh fruits and veggies make perfect snacks that are delicious and nutritious. The problem is that they don’t compete with many commonly consumed snack foods. It can be impossible to convince kiddos that they would prefer the taste of cucumbers over candy.

Unfortunately, the majority of preferred snack foods are pretty unhealthy. Potato chips, fruit snacks, pretzels, cereal bars, and cookies are far from the most nutritional options for children or adults. Not only do these foods lack nutritional value, but they’re also high in refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and sodium.

The good news is that there are great snacks out there that are just as tasty as these options. Here are six examples of healthy snack options that even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy:

Apple Slices and Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a cheat code when it comes to creating a snack. You can add it to almost anything and immediately improve the taste. Pairing creamy peanut butter with crispy apple slices creates a unique texture that can satisfy picky taste buds.

If apples aren’t an acceptable option, you could easily substitute them for bananas. Bananas don’t have the same crisp texture as apples, so they can mix well with crunchy or creamy peanut butter. Having the option for different fruits may make it easier to please your picky eater.

It’s also possible to use a different type of nut butter to mix things up. Peanut butter might be the most well-known, but almond butter, walnut butter, and pistachio butter are rapidly gaining popularity. These options can be a little more expensive and harder to find, but may have just the flavor profile to appease your picky eater.

The only downside with peanut butter is that you’ll want to be careful not to overdo it. There are a ton of nutrients in peanut butter, but it’s also pretty high in calories, saturated fat, and hydrogenated oils. It’s best to limit daily peanut butter consumption to two tablespoons at most.

Homemade Trail Mix

Trail mix is a wildly popular snack for active people for three reasons: it’s convenient, delicious, and nutritious. Any snack option that ticks all three boxes can be a great choice.

The thing is that you may want to avoid buying it from the grocery store. It’s very common for store-bought trail mix to be loaded with added sugar. Plenty of natural sugar can be found in the common ingredients of trail mix, so the added sugar isn’t really needed for a delicious bite.

The good thing about making your own trail mix at home is you can customize it however you want. You could build a trail mix that’s specifically tailored to the taste buds of the picky eater in your life.

The most common trail mixes pair salty and sweet flavors. The salty flavors come from lightly salted granola (stick to whole grain if you can), pretzels, nuts, or seeds. These ingredients also provide a bit of a crunch to keep any eater interested.

The sweet flavors usually involve dried fruits, chocolate chips, or natural candies. There is bound to be a variety of salty, crunchy, and sweet options that meet the high expectations of your picky eater.

Carrots and Hummus

Hummus is a lot like peanut butter as you can easily add it to another food and dramatically improve the taste. Traditional hummus is made from chickpeas that are cooked, mashed, and blended with a few other ingredients.

All hummus includes a healthy oil, such as olive oil or avocado oil. The savory spread can be seasoned with various spices, allowing for a wide range of flavors.

Eating hummus by itself is a nutritious snack option. However, adding some fresh vegetables to the dish will take it to another level. Carrots (especially baby carrots and carrot sticks) are one the most popular veggies to pair with hummus.

The crunch of a carrot goes well with the creaminess of hummus. The same is true for celery, bell peppers, kale chips, zucchini, and cucumber slices. There’s no wrong answer, as hummus goes with pretty much anything.

Greek Yogurt and Blueberries

Earlier, we discussed how dessert could effectively motivate a picky eater to finish their meal. But what if the dessert was the meal? Combining Greek yogurt with a handful of blueberries, pomegranate seeds, or fresh raspberries will taste like dessert, even to the pickiest eater. The highly nutritional snack is disguised as a sweet and pleasurable treat. It’s the perfect Trojan horse for picky eaters.

The key is to make sure that you’re using Greek yogurt. Regular yogurt typically has twice the sugar content compared to Greek yogurt. It’s not quite as bad as ice cream, but it’s more sugar than you may want for a “nutritious” snack. You can also look for plain Greek yogurt to avoid the extra sugar found in flavored varieties.

That said, plain Greek yogurt isn’t exactly an exhilarating snack option. That’s why it can help to flavor it with blueberries or other fruits. There are few foods that are as good for you as blueberries, and many don’t taste nearly as delicious. A handful of blueberries is all it takes to give Greek yogurt a delicious flavor and create an ultra-healthy snack.

If blueberries aren’t loved by your picky eater, you can easily swap out another fruit. There is no wrong answer for fruits that pair with Greek yogurt, so you have a long list to choose from!

You could also add in some whole-grain granola or almonds, cashews, or pistachios for a crunchy kick. You can serve your Greek yogurt-based concoction in a bowl or blend it into a nutritious smoothie.

Cracker Sandwiches

One of the ways to sidestep a child that’s picky about food is to make a game out of eating. They may not be so focused on their picky tendencies if they're having fun. An easy way to do that is to have them make their own snack. Cracker sandwiches are one option for mixing snack time and playtime.

A cracker sandwich is exactly what it sounds like. It is two crackers with some variation of stuffing in the middle. It’s a very simple recipe that can be delicious with the right ingredients.

Peanut butter is one option that pairs well with crackers. You could also go with cream cheese to give a silky sweet-but-tangy taste. You could also use deli meat slices to build cracker sandwiches that provide a punch of protein. The options are limitless.

The largest downside with cracker sandwiches is they may not be especially nutritious. If you’re looking for strictly healthy snack ideas, the other foods on this list may be better options.

Crackers aren’t often as unhealthy as potato chips, but they can be pretty high in sodium. It’s best to use low-sodium whole-grain crackers for this snack.


You’re probably surprised to see popcorn appear on this list. It’s not usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a healthy and nutritious snack. However, it’s a pretty healthy option if you air-pop it and consider the seasoning and toppings.

Even the pickiest eaters love popcorn; getting yours to chow down on a bowl at snack time shouldn't require too much convincing.

The tricky thing is that most popcorn is loaded with butter and salt. You don’t need to be a dietitian to know those two aren’t the healthiest options for toppings. The good thing about popcorn is that you have a few options that make it taste better without making it unhealthy.

Cinnamon is a great option, as it has a very robust flavor with zero calories. You could also use cocoa powder, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, or grated parmesan if the cinnamon is too intense.

Mix and Match To Please Your Picky Eater

Young children usually aren’t too keen on trying out new foods. Once they find something they like, they tend to latch onto it tightly. That can be good news for parents if their food preferences are well-balanced and healthy.

Unfortunately, it can often skew toward unhealthy foods loaded with fat, sugar, or salt. That’s especially the case when it comes to snack time, with options like chips, cookies, and white-bread toast.

Hopefully, the list above features at least a few options for foods that your picky eater does enjoy. You might have to mix and match a little to find the perfect snack, but it should be a solid place to start!

Hopefully, as time wears on, your picky eater's taste palette will start to expand. That’s when the real fun begins, as you could introduce them to some of the more exotic flavors out there!


Popcorn as a snack: Healthy hit or dietary horror show? | American Heart Association

Healthiest Crackers for Snacks and Parties | Consumer Reports

Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt: Is One Better? | AARP

The Healthy Perks of Peanut Butter | Denver Health Medical Plan

Yes, adults can be picky eaters. Here's how to stop. | Washington Post

Anti-Bribing Strategies for Picky Eaters | Action for Healthy Kids

Six Key Nutrients For Keeping Kids Healthy | Good Health

Picky Eating: How to Help Change a Child's Food Habits | Nationwide Children's Hospital


6 Nutritious Snacks for Picky Eaters? ›

Salmon, fish sticks, eggs, turkey lunch meat, yogurt, or mozzarella string cheese. Beans and grains. Soy products like soy milk or tofu. (You can even try soy "chicken" nuggets).

What are 6 healthy snacks? ›

6 Simple Snack Ideas and Healthy Foods for Older Adults
  • Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds are a great snack because they are easily portable, nutritious, and quite satisfying. ...
  • Greek Yogurt with Fresh Berries. ...
  • Celery with Nut Butters. ...
  • Vegetables with Hummus. ...
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs. ...
  • Protein Smoothie.

What are high protein snacks for picky eaters? ›

Salmon, fish sticks, eggs, turkey lunch meat, yogurt, or mozzarella string cheese. Beans and grains. Soy products like soy milk or tofu. (You can even try soy "chicken" nuggets).

How can an extremely picky eater eat healthy? ›

Here are five tips to help a picky eater eat healthy:
  1. Drink your veggies. You don't love spinach, but you do love fruit. ...
  2. Swap meat out of burgers. ...
  3. Sneak in healthy grains. ...
  4. Improve your pasta dish. ...
  5. Experiment with prep.

What are the 7 sensible snacks? ›

Sensible Snacking for Children
  • String cheese.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Granola bars.
  • Whole grain crackers.
  • Trail/Cereal Mix.
  • Graham Crackers.
  • Box of raisins.
  • Baby carrots.

What are 2 healthy snacks? ›

Some examples include:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Frozen fruit.
  • Fruits canned in water or their own juice.
  • Whole grain bread, crackers and cereals.
  • Lower fat yogurt.
  • Lower fat cheese.
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds and their butters.
  • Hummus.
Mar 1, 2021

What is a healthy chewy snack? ›

Chewy: Raisins

“Rich in fiber and iron with no added sugars, raisins can combat both a chewy and sweet craving at the same time while serving as a much better alternative to a chewy candy,” explains Palinski-Wade. Raisins also make the cut for being one of the best foods for your heart.

What are the best protein snacks for ADHD kids? ›

Avoid carbohydrate-only meals and snacks — adding a protein like nuts, cheese, seeds, bean-based dips, yogurt, or milk allows the food to be delivered into the body in a steadier way that optimizes energy levels for conditions such as ADHD.

What are 3 tips for picky eaters? ›

Approaches to Try
  • Try eating the food first to show them you like it. ...
  • Make funny faces with the foods on their plate. ...
  • Give them a choice of different foods to try. ...
  • Serve new foods with foods you know they like.
  • Try freezing small bites of leftover foods. ...
  • Wait a couple of days before offering the food again.

How do you satisfy a picky eater? ›

Cut foods into interesting shapes. Create a smiling face on top of a casserole with cheese, vegetables, or fruit strips. Set a good example by eating well yourself. Ideally, eat at least one meal together as a family every day or try for 3 to 4 times per week.

What is the picky eater rule? ›

You may have heard it called the “one bite rule” or the “one polite bite” or the “no thank you bite” or the “try it bite”. Regardless of what you call it, it's the concept that a child (usually a picky eater) should take at least one bite of every food on their plate. Why should they take one bite to be polite?

What nutrients would a picky eater miss out on? ›

Extreme picky eating can lead to both long- and short-term deficiencies and other health concerns like mood disorders and hyperactivity. Deficiencies in magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and B6 have been shown to have the biggest impact on mood, behaviour, and intelligence.

What is healthy food for picky adults? ›

Aiming for vegetables with mild or sweet flavors can be the best way to begin because they tend to be more acceptable to picky tastebuds. Vegetables considered mild in flavor include cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, and spinach. Sweet tasting vegetables are sweet potatoes, carrots, delicata squash, and sweet peppers.

What are six possible reasons for picky eaters? ›

Causes of picky eating include early feeding difficulties, late introduction of lumpy foods at weaning, pressure to eat and early choosiness, especially if the mother is worried by this; protective factors include the provision of fresh foods and eating the same meal as the child.

What is the #1 snack in the world? ›

Pringles. This iconic snack container is unmistakable. You've probably popped a top or two with your friends. This potato crisp snack debuted in 1968 and is sold in over 140 countries.

What is the number 1 snack? ›

As this infographic shows, Cookies are the most popular snack food, with 59 percent of snackers saying they eat the sugary comfort food regularly.

What is a nice healthy snack? ›

Apples and peanut butter are a match made in heaven — both nutritionally and flavor-wise. On one hand, apples are a fiber-rich fruit. On the other hand, peanuts provide healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber — pretty much all of the filling nutrients you should look for in a snack ( 15 , 16 ).

Are Ritz crackers healthy? ›

These snacks are high in fat and calories because they contain high-calorie processed ingredients such as canola oil, palm oil, and refined sugar. Eating Ritz on a regular basis can help you lose weight, but it can also mean you're eating way too much.

What are better food choices snacks? ›

When you want a snack, choose fruits and vegetables, whole grains that have 3 grams of fiber or more, and protein-rich foods, such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.

What are the top 10 snack foods? ›

Top 10 Greatest Snack Foods
  1. 1 Potato Chips. I love the chips and is also fantastic. ...
  2. 2 Oreos. ...
  3. 3 Cookies. ...
  4. 4 Pop-Tarts. ...
  5. 5 Cheese Crackers. ...
  6. 6 Tortilla Chips. ...
  7. 7 Popcorn. ...
  8. 8 Mixed Fruit.

How do picky kids eat healthy? ›

Offer a variety of healthy foods, especially vegetables and fruits, and include higher protein foods like meat and deboned fish at least 2 times per week. Help your child explore new flavors and textures in food. Try adding different herbs and spices to simple meals to make them tastier.

What snacks help with poor appetite? ›

Eat nutritious foods such as yoghurt, cheese or bread/English muffins/crumpets with nourishing toppings like avocado, cottage/ricotta cheese, or nut butters. Drink milk-based drinks such as plain and flavoured milk or smoothies. Sip on water throughout the day.

What tastes sweet but has no sugar? ›

Try dates, raisins, figs, berries, pears, and really any other delicious fruit. Fruit-based purees and jams and sauces, such as applesauce, with no added sugars can also bring a big sweet reward to your treats.

What should I eat if I crave chips? ›

Try one of the crunchy pairings below — your body will thank you!
  • Kale Chips. ...
  • Sweet Potato Chips. ...
  • Cauliflower Crackers. ...
  • Raw Veggie Slices. ...
  • Air-Popped Popcorn. ...
  • Mixed Nuts.
Feb 28, 2023

What foods calm ADHD kids? ›

Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — may have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the brain to make neurotransmitters — chemicals that help brain cells talk with each other.

What are easy ADHD friendly foods? ›

Many diets lack omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential and research shows can help people improve their ADHD symptoms. You can increase omega-3 fatty acids by adding tuna, salmon, other cold-water white fish, walnuts, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and olive and canola oil in your diet.

What age does picky eating end? ›

Do remember that picky eating is often “developmentally normal.” Children across the globe go through a picky eating phase from about age 2 to about age 4.

What not to say to a picky eater? ›

7 things not to say to a picky eater
  • "You are such a good eater!" ...
  • "You are such a picky eater!" ...
  • "Clean your plate; there are starving children in (fill in the blank)." ...
  • "You have to eat all your vegetables or there will be no dessert." ...
  • "Eat all your dinner or you don't get dessert." ...
  • "I was so bad at lunch today!
Jun 28, 2011

Is picky eating psychological? ›

'” Picky eating might reach a clinical level for a number of different reasons. Some kids have a heightened sense of smell that makes them taste flavors more intensely than most people. Others limit their diets because they have problems with anxiety.

Is picky eating my fault? ›

It's always the parents' fault. Experts have previously suggested that extreme picky eating could be considered an eating disorder. Now, a new study has emerged that says children who are picky eaters are likely the result of overbearing parenting.

Should you force a picky eater to eat? ›

Encourage her to try the foods you serve, but don't force her to eat them. Set a good example by eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy protein. Ask your daughter what fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods she is willing to try.

Can picky eating be fixed? ›

The concern for many parents regarding picky eating behaviors is how long they'll last, or if they could become permanent. But never fear, as Murray assures, picky eating will usually fix itself over time.

Are picky eaters born or made? ›

Some children are naturally more sensitive to taste, smell and texture. Other children develop picky eating habits by modeling their parents' fussy eating habits. Picky eating habits are more likely to develop when parents punish, bribe or reward their children's eating behaviors.

Is being a picky eater ADHD? ›

Picky eating and ADHD often go hand-in-hand.

In fact, researchers at Duke University found a high correlation between selective eating problems and ADHD. Additionally, many children with ADHD are more predisposed to crave sugar due to the surge of dopamine that sugar delivers to the brain.

What not to do with picky eaters? ›

Rule #1: No TV or toys during mealtimes. This distracts the child so they either stop eating or they don't stop eating and don't listen to their hunger cues and regulating their food intake. Rule #2: No bribes.

Are picky eaters on the spectrum? ›

If you have a picky eater with autism, know that you're not alone. A recent review of scientific studies found that children with autism are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges such as extremely narrow food selections, ritualistic eating behaviors (e.g. no foods can touch) and meal-related tantrums.

What to eat when you don t like food? ›

Here are some of the best choices for what to have when you don't feel like eating after running or working out:
  • #1: Smoothies. ...
  • #2: Protein Shakes. ...
  • #3: Popsicles. ...
  • #4: Fruit. ...
  • #5: Chocolate Milk. ...
  • #6: Soup. ...
  • #7: Fruit Juice. ...
  • #8: Sherbet, Ice Cream, or Frozen Yogurt.
Nov 18, 2022

Is picky eating a part of OCD? ›

This may be conscious or unconscious. Mood disorder: An undiagnosed anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be causing them to take picky eating to an unhealthy level.

What are the 6 best foods? ›

Healthy foods to eat every day: 6 of the best
  • Lean protein.
  • Cruciferous vegetables.
  • Different colored vegetables.
  • Berries.
  • Nuts.
  • Olive oil.
  • Summary.
May 27, 2021

What are healthy snacks 101? ›

Snack Suggestions
  • Trail mix and cheese.
  • Veggie sticks and hummus.
  • Hard boiled egg and fruit.
  • Whole grain tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole.
  • Cottage cheese and fruit.
  • Energy balls.
  • Whole-grain toast with nut butter.
  • Apples and cheese.
May 1, 2022

Is there a healthy snack? ›

Consider these nutritious snack choices depending on your preference:
  • Crunchy—raw vegetable sticks, nuts, seeds, whole grain crackers, apple.
  • Creamy—cottage cheese, yogurt, hummus, avocado.
  • Sweet—chopped fresh fruit, dark chocolate.
  • Savory/Salty—cube or slice of cheese, roasted chickpeas, handful of nuts, nut butter.

What food is actually healthy? ›

Top 15 healthy foods you should be eating
  • Fish. ...
  • Broccoli or any of the cruciferous vegetables. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables. ...
  • Kale. ...
  • Peanut butter. ...
  • Almonds. ...
  • Mangos.
Apr 5, 2019

What are the 7 most healthiest foods? ›

Top 10 Foods for Health
  1. Water. Drink 8 to 12 cups of water daily.
  2. Dark Green Vegetables. Eat dark green vegetables at least three to four times a week. ...
  3. Whole Grains. Eat whole grains sat least two or three times daily. ...
  4. Beans and Lentils. Try to eat a bean-based meal at least once a week. ...
  5. Fish. ...
  6. Berries. ...
  7. Winter Squash. ...
  8. Soy.

What are the 5 super foods? ›

The Top 5 Superfoods
  • Plant-Based Yogurt & Fermented Foods. Although the concept of fermented foods may seem daunting, the probiotic bacteria in these foods absolutely contributes to a healthier gut. ...
  • Acai & Exotic Fruits. ...
  • Avocados. ...
  • Green Tea. ...
  • Ginger.
May 7, 2021

What are the 20 most healthy foods? ›

What are the top 20 healthiest foods?
  1. Avocado. Nutrient-dense and with just half a fruit counting as one portion of your five-a-day, avocado is a useful addition to the diet. ...
  2. Blackcurrants. ...
  3. Brussels sprouts. ...
  4. Buckwheat. ...
  5. Chia seeds. ...
  6. Egg. ...
  7. Garlic. ...
  8. Gouda.
Mar 3, 2023

What healthy meal has all 5 food groups? ›

A salad allows you to fit all food groups in one meal. For example, make your salad with spinach, orange sections, cooked brown rice, roasted chicken and cottage cheese. The cottage cheese replaces commercial dressing.

What are level 6 foods? ›

Level 6 is soft and bite-sized food. Soft and bite-sized foods require less chewing, so you should find them easier to swallow. What are soft and bite-sized foods? These foods are soft, tender and moist.


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