If you have a picky eater, you can try this ‘fading’ technique that’s going viral

pasta eating hack for picky eaters
Feeding Picky Kids/TikTok

Variety is the spice of life, right? Not if you have a toddler, per moms everywhere. In fact, if you let even a bit of that ghastly red sauce touch that pasta, it will of course be deemed completely contaminated. So, in a viral TikTok, Registered Dietician and Mama Veronica, of the account feedingpickykids, has a solution for your picky eater: food fading.

“If your child loves pasta or noodles, but doesn’t like sauce, here’s a tip for you. Take the teeniest amount of sauce and mix it throughout,” she says.”  “This is a process called ‘fading’ where you slowly add more and more as your child accepts it.”

In the video, she stirs basically invisible amounts of sauce onto spiral noodles, so that they still look plain to that picky toddler. But they aren’t, opening up the possibility for that pasta dinner to be more than just plain carbs, as often the sauce is where sneaky moms can hide those nutritious offenders called vegetables, if they can get the kid to eat sauce.

Parents aren’t sure about this hack yet. In the comments, one writes “Or just let them eat what they want.” Another says “OR just don’t give them sauce.” But some parents think it’s a solid plan, and have their own adaptations of using the “fading” concept to train their kids to eat a wider variety of foods.

“This worked to build up my spice tolerance as a kid,” one writes. Another says to try to give them more power of choice by letting them dip their pasta in sauce on the side. Veronica takes the time to respond to one commenter who wants to know what’s wrong with not eating sauce?

“They can! Branching out to like a variety of foods adds nutrients to their diet and creates flexibility around mealtimes,” she responds. Multiple people even responded that this process is helpful for those with Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), which is essentially when someone is so selective or “picky” that it limits their nutrients, calories, and therefore body function.

Parents might be able to play with other sauces except their kids favorite go-to basic marinara using this strategy as well.

A version of this story was originally published on Oct 11, 2023. It has been updated.