Dear American Girl,

I'm a very picky eater. When I go to dinner at family members' or friends' houses, I end up disliking almost everything on my plate. I try to eat the food to be polite, but I usually end up pushing it around. Even though I don't want to be rude, I don't want to eat the food either. What can I do? Can I avoid hurting the cook's feelings?
-Small bites

Here's your advice:

Instead of pushing food around, just take smaller helpings of food. Taste them, and if you like them, ask if you can take some more. There's nothing wrong with trying new foods.
-Tiffany, age 11, Michigan

Give each new food a chance. Don't take a bite and decide immediately that you don't like it. I used to hate beets, but I gave them another chance and now I love them.
-Charlie, age 9, Ohio

Eat at least a couple of bites of each food on your plate, and make sure to say thank you when you're done. You don't have to like everything you eat, but always thank the cook.
-Keisha, age 12, West Virginia

Try to focus on the foods that you do like. For example, if the cook asks why you haven't eaten much of your salad, you could say, "I filled up on the mashed potatoes. They're awesome!"
-An American Girl fan, age 13, Connecticut

Before you go to someone's house, have a little snack. That way, if you take only a few bites of your meal, you won't be hungry. Just be sure not to eat a big snack!
-Mia, age 10, Minnesota

I decided to trick myself into trying new foods. Instead of saying, "I'm a picky eater," I started saying, "I'll eat anything!" I made myself believe it, and now I really do eat anything.
-Brooke, age 12, Texas

When you go to someone's house for dinner, think of it as an opportunity to try new and different foods. I used to be a picky eater, so I decided to push myself to try foods outside my comfort zone. Now I'm a lot more open to trying new foods.
-Julia, age 11, Ohio

Sometimes people dislike foods because they choose to dislike them. Instead of focusing on what you don't like about a certain food, focus on what you do like about it. This works for me.
-Jill, age 12, California

Even if you don't love something, think of something good you can say about it. Focus on the thing you like the most about it. You could say, "The pasta is good! What kind of cheese did you put on it?" This is one way to let the cook know that you appreciate the meal he or she made.
-Maggie, age 10, Alaska

Maybe you could ask for small portions. Then, when you go home, you could have something else to eat.
-Hava, age 12, Arizona

My mom has a good tip for picky eaters. She says that if you're not enjoying a meal, be sociable and get into the conversation. If you keep talking, the people at the table might not notice what's still on your plate.
-Katie, age 9, Georgia

Most people have a favorite dish, and sometimes a recipe can have a special meaning for the cook. Even if you're not an adventurous eater, you can appreciate the effort put into preparing a meal. For example, I don't like zucchini, but my friend's parents often serve a zucchini dish that's been handed down for generations. Each time they serve it, they love to tell the story of how their great-grandparents passed down the recipe. Showing interest in the food that's been made is a great way to show you care.
-Madalina, age 12, Michigan

A lot of kids tend to be picky eaters. Sometimes it can be hard to eat all the things on your plate, especially if those foods aren't your favorites or they look strange or different to you. Here's one way to be polite to the cook. Pick a food you enjoyed from the meal and compliment it. You could say, "That green-bean casserole was delicious. Do you think you could give my mom the recipe?" I hope this helps!
-Abigail, age 13, South Carolina

Past Help from You
School Smarts
Family Matters
The Care and Keeping of Friends
The Care and Keeping of You
I'm Scared
More Advice From You