How a Simple Shake Could Be the Answer for a Picky Eater…..

How a Shake Could Be the Answer for Your Picky Eater…

This idea was born after I was fortunate enough to attend a training with a food expert specializing in Autism and Nutrition. After the training, I asked for her help to come up with a drink that could provide the necessary nutrients for a child I knew who was a ‘world class picky eater’.

As educators and parents, we’ve all encountered kids who are picky eaters. Some of these kids get a little less picky over time. Others just grow up to be adults who are picky eaters. A ‘world class picky eater’ in my book is a child who will voluntarily eat or drink less than a dozen foods. Also, most of the foods they eat are what the rest of us would classify as junk food – French fries, chips, marshmallows, etc.

So, I asked Elisa Bernardo, RDN* to help me come up with a drink that contained enough nutrients to actually sustain a child with an at-risk immune system and here were her suggestions…

Since my world class picky eater mainly subsists on strawberry milk, Elisa suggested creating a shake using canned fruit (in fruit juice) as the source of sweetness. Among others, you can find pineapple, pears, and peaches packed in fruit juices without added sugar.  The base of the shake could be milk (I’d use whole) or as Elisa suggested, almond or coconut milk. For extra protein, add some cannellini beans – how brilliant is that? I knew cannellini beans were a healthier way to thicken soup but as a way to add protein to a shake? Genius!  Veggies you could sneak in could be small amounts of carrots, spinach, or cauliflower. She suggested a probiotic supplement which you could add to boost the immune system, such as Primal Defense for Kids by Garden of Life. If your child could benefit from a whole food vitamin supplement, Garden of Life also has one of these for kids. If like most world class picky eaters, yours won’t eat a vitamin, grind it up and put it in the shake! Some of these picky eaters want their drinks to be a specific color – mine prefers pink. Frozen cherries to the rescue!

Maybe parents and caregivers out there know many of these tricks already. But I was so grateful to be opened up to the idea that – a shake really COULD be the answer to a picky eater. I haven’t yet turned my kitchen into a taste laboratory but I’d love to hear the results of the following challenge – how close to the taste of a McDonald’s shake could you come with only healthy ingredients?

*Elisa Bernardo is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works as a Nutrition Educator for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. She has a passion for research on Autism and Nutrition and has earned a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science from Syracuse University. She also has a dual BA in Biology and Psychology from Binghamton University. She can be contacted at:


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