If you’re wondering how to get your picky eater to eat, you aren’t alone. This is a common issue for so many parents. As it turns out, it might not be what you’re serving for dinner but how you’re serving it that has your child staunchly refusing entry to the airplane, choo-choo train or whatever “OMG please just eat this” method you’ve been trying.

Plating your child’s food matters, at least, according to science. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food Science looked at the effect that plating food differently has on children. The researchers wanted to answer whether a child’s age and gender impacts food preferences.

Photo: KathrinPie via Pixabay

The study included 100 children, ages 7 to 8 and 12 to 14. Researchers asked the kiddos rank six photos of foods (each plated in different ways) in order of preference. And what did they find out? Seven to eight-year-old girls preferred when foods didn’t touch each other. But boys of the same didn’t really care.

Unlike the younger children, both older girls and boys preferred foods that were mixed together on the same plate or served as a combo—some separate and some mixed ingredients.

So what’s the take-away from this study? If you’re in doubt, don’t mix. Keeping the foods separate gives your picky eater the choice to eat each individual item or mix them together on their own.

—Erica Loop



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