It’s always a special day when your kid asks you for a food you never would’ve believed that they’d eat before – especially vegetables or more meat!

When I share my passion for ending picky eating in kids, people ask for the magic words that will end it in one meal. I have to admit that it’s not quite that quick!

How long will it take?

In my experience there’s been variation in how long it took to get from “really picky” to “happily eating what’s served.” It depends on where we’re starting from. Some kids are only picky when it comes to a certain food group, like vegetables. Some kids have limited their diet to five or six particular foods. Other kids have sensory issues or texture preferences to overcome.

In my nutrition practice, I’ve primarily worked with kids on the autism spectrum, with sensory processing disorder, or other serious health issues. These are probably the toughest cases of picky eating.

Of the three methods that I offer in my book From Mac & Cheese to Veggies, Please, I find that the Cold Turkey Method gives us the quickest results in these most difficult cases. Using the Cold Turkey Method, kids eat some variety of the healthy foods we’re offering, within two weeks. That doesn’t mean that they’re loving it and asking for more, but they are eating well without meal time battles.

With kids who are this severe in their picky eating, it may take from 3 to 6 months before their favored foods change, and they start asking for savory foods or veggies. In less severe cases it may only take a few weeks of consistently offering new foods to see a major turnaround.

Acknowledge that your kid is a unique individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long it will take for your kid to stop being picky.

It will depend on:

  • What level of picky eating you’re starting from.
  • The health conditions you’re dealing with.
  • Your consistency in offering your preferred foods to your kid.
  • How quickly they become better nourished and satiated.
  • How quickly they break their sugar addiction and correct their gut flora, so sugary things aren’t their only cravings.

My best advice for you is:

  1. Create a plan for how you’re going to overcome picky eating with your kid so that you can start it with confidence and never give up.
  2. Compare your success to where you started from. When you compare yourself to other families, you’ll likely end up frustrated. The most thrilling stories are the ones that we hear about in the media. A story about picky eating slowly changing over the course of four or five months isn’t very exciting, but is much more common.

If your child has become less picky than they were when you started, you’re on the right track. Just like healing any other health condition, overcoming picky eating is a process, and we don’t get to control exactly how long it takes.

We do get to decide how we’re going to make the change with our kids, the attitude we’re bringing to the experience, and the determination that we will keep going until we’ve ended picky eating.

When your child overcomes their picky eating, they are opened up to more nourishment now, and the ability to understand their body’s true desire for healthy foods in the future. So no matter how long it takes, when you look back, it is worth it.

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