This is such a big topic that it's hard to know where to start!
First of all. I want to point out, that teaching good eaters is a lifelong process. My kids are good eaters, but we still face food challenges on a daily basis.
Learning to be a good eater is not like learning to ride a bike. It's not a hurdle to overcome that, once learned, is learned for life. Rather, it is more like learning to read. It can be a long, slow, process and there is always more to learn and more to do, to maintain and grow the skill.
Having taught children to read, I know that it can sometimes take a long time to see results. As a classroom teacher, there were times when I wondered if I taught anyone anything at all. It was hard to see changes in the everyday. Instead, I had to look at the year as a whole, in order to see the growth.
If you have a very picky eater on your hands, don't expect to see immediate, drastic changes. Take it one step at a time, and celebrate any small victory!
My first year as a teacher, I had gotten myself into power struggles with several of my students. I had to realize that if I engaged in a power struggle, I had already lost. If I said, "sit down," and the student said, "no," there was really no way that I could "make" him sit down. I read two amazing books that year which really helped me to recognize this and to approach things in a different way. The first was "You Can't Make Me," by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, and the second was, "How to Talk so Kids Can Learn," by Adele Faber.
Teaching your kids to be good eaters, is no different. You can't make them eat anything, this is one of the few things in their lives that they have learned they can control. Therefore, in order to help them be better eaters, you need to realize that you can't make them eat, you have to teach them...
Before you can start to change your child's eating habits, you may need to change how eating and meals are approached in your house. If mealtimes have become a power struggle between you and your child, this is the first thing that needs to be addressed.
The post: Where to Start with Picky Eaters will help you to start breaking down the power struggles and will set the stage for all other, "work," you will be doing to help your child become more adventurous.
Before you try any new foods, you should read the post: Less is More...
Once you have changed the tone of mealtimes, you can use the a teaching method called Scaffolding to slowly and carefully introduce new foods:
Puzzles and Picky Eaters: How to use Scaffolding to Help Teach Kids to be Good Eaters
Scaffold your Mac and Cheese
Scaffold Your Way to a Healthier PB & J
Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper
Scaffold Your Fries
What would you like for me to scaffold next? Tell me your child's favorite food in the comments and I'll use it for a future scaffolding post!
One way to help encourage kids to be better eaters is to take the focus off of the foods, by making it more fun. These posts will provide some inspiration...
Start by Using Foods that your Child Already Likes...
A Picky Eater's Bento
A Picky Eater's Muffin Tin
Then Use "Fun" as a Tool to Encourage Your Child to Try New Foods...
How Shape and Appearance Affect Taste
Have Food Adventures to Associate Healthy Food with Positive Experiences
Use Muffin Tins to Make Introducing New Foods Less Intimidating
Realize that Sometimes, it's not about the Food
Take the Focus off of the Food by Making a Meal into an Activity
Completely Change the Tone of Dinner Time with a Scavenger Hunt Meal!!
When You Make Food Fun it Tastes "Gooder"
I will be adding to this page as time goes on, so be sure to bookmark this page and stop back often! I want to be able to help, so if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or send me an e-mail at: info (at) teachinggoodeaters.com.
Picky Eater "Tuesday Tips"
Don't Label Your Child a Picky Eater
Take Advantage of Positive Peer Pressure
Serve Vegetables that Taste Good!