Linda Lewis Griffith

8 tips for dealing with picky eaters

Dealing with picky eaters or diners on restricted diets can be a daunting task, according to San Luis Obispo marriage and family therapist Linda Lewis Griffth.
Dealing with picky eaters or diners on restricted diets can be a daunting task, according to San Luis Obispo marriage and family therapist Linda Lewis Griffth. Lexington Herald-Leader

New diets, such as paleo, gluten-free and intermittent fasting, crop up daily. Food fads leave us wondering what their followers actually eat.

The situation is especially daunting when those folks are dining in your home. You want to be a gracious host. But how far should you go to accommodate guests’ dietary anomalies before saying, “Just eat what’s on your plate.”

Below are eight suggestions for dealing with others’ culinary quirks.

Consider the severity of the request. If someone has life-threatening food allergies, do your best to prepare safe and tasty meals. You needn’t necessarily revamp the entire menu, but you should offer ample toxin-free alternatives.

Serve a variety of neutral foods. Consider salad or taco bars with a spread of meats, grains, cheeses and greens to choose from. If barbeques are your thing, feature meat and grilled veggies served family-style from an oversized platter.

Enlist the help of restricted eaters. Put them to work in the kitchen with a sweet, “How about cooking something that you like?” Invite them to shop with you at the grocery store. You’ll learn more about their particular diets while bonding over the preparation of food.

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Linda Lewis Griffith is a retired marriage, family and child therapist who lives in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Host a potluck. If your guest list includes several restricted eaters, ask each household to bring a dish and give extra kudos when recipes are included. You’ll guarantee no one goes away hungry. Plus, you might discover a new favorite meal.

Cook what you love. It’s your home and your party, so serve what you like most. Don’t sacrifice your own enjoyment to keep one picky eater happy.

The same principles hold true for kids. Children can be the pickiest of all, so don’t go nuts trying to feed them. Offer a variety of non-offensive choices and, hopefully, they’ll find something they can eat. If not, Mom and Dad can bring their food next time or take them out to McDonald’s when they leave.

Know restricted eaters won’t starve. You do your best to make guests happy. You’re secretly hoping their tummies are full. But you can’t guarantee satiation for restricted eaters. Stop fretting about their well-being, and remind yourself that they’ll be fine. If they’re hungry enough they’ll eat more. If not, you’ve done what you could.

Consider altering your guest list. If restricted eaters aren’t part of the family, you may consider disinviting them from future events. You don’t want to judge how others eat, but dining together should be a pleasurable activity — not the source of undue angst. Ask, “Is this person really worth so much trouble?” If not, find another friend.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.
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