knowing how your kids eat reduces stress and uncertainty. - Mary Voogt

77: Why HOW You Feed Your Kids is More Important Than WHAT You Feed Them: Eating Styles

Why is my child holding all that food in his mouth? Just chew!

Why does she play with her food for so long? Just eat!

Why am I unsatisfied after certain meals? They’re perfectly healthy and filling!

Mary Voogt, feeding expert and food allergy aficionado, joins us today to explain how she discovered the 4 Eating Styles and how they impact family dinners with less stress and better nutrition.

You’ll hear her story of each of her children challenging everything she thought she knew about feeding children and learning to eat, and that the “HOW” finally opened up a whole new world of success (and nourished children). From picky eaters to kids running around the table, it turns out there’s an explanation for everything.

Kids Eating Styles

Mary walks us through characteristics and eating needs of the 4 Styles:

  • Intuitive
  • Adventurous
  • Active
  • Analytical

You’ll start to quickly see certain traits in your children and finally understand why your son wants to eat the moment he wakes up (and is ok with the same food every day) while your daughter mopes around for an hour, picking at her breakfast.

We also address the challenges of meal planning for multiple Eating Styles, and Mary explains practical ways to meal plan and cook ONE meal for everyone with slight variations to help everyone love their food more.

She wants us to remember that there’s always hope and that ALL children are great eaters if we can work with their natural tendencies (and support reforming their weaknesses appropriately). From a mom of multiple near-failure-to-thrive picky eaters who has become a mom of 4 GREAT eaters, this is an interview to remember!


Watch Kids Eating Styles on YouTube.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Eating Styles Video Time Stamps

  • 0:14: I have Mary Voogt with me today on the Healthy Parenting Connector. Mary is a homeschooling mom of four with a passion for feeding kids well. She’s now training as an NTP, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, to go deeper into nutritional profiles for children.
  • 1:58: Mary shares her experience with her own kids learning how to eat and how that propelled her into kid’s nutrition. Her family has extensive experience with food allergies and feeding issues.

Why Won’t my Child Eat?

  • 8:04: I hear from lots of parents who are worried that their picky eaters aren’t getting enough calories, protein, veggies, etc. They always ask WHAT they can feed their kids to improve the situation. Mary has flipped that around and says that HOW we feed them is the important thing.

We need to back it up and ask "Why isn't she eating the peas?" -Mary Voogt

  • 9:46: Mary’s oldest son would have a full-blown meltdown if even a tiny piece of carrot was on his plate. She was persistent in offering him carrots cooked in different ways until she finally got him to eat them. As it turns out, he’s sensitive to many orange vegetables because he can’t metabolize the beta-carotene.

The Four Eating Styles

  • 11:29: Over the years, Mary has identified four Eating Styles.
  • 11:51: First is the intuitive eater. This is what most people label as the picky eater. These are the kids who listen to their bodies really, really well.

Intuitive eater characteristics

  • 13:03: Next is the adventurous eater. They’re very playful and want to play with their food or decorate their plate.

Adventurous eater characteristics

  • 13:38: The active eater eats really quickly and likes intense flavors and combinations.

Active eater characteristics

  • 14:28: Last we have the analytical eater. They are very structured and thrive on routine.

Analytical eater characteristics

  • 15:26: You can probably see little pieces of your children as Mary explains these. Kids tend to have a dominant style and overlap a little bit with a second one.

Determining Your Child’s Eating Style

  • 16:06: Look at the big picture when you’re determining your child’s Eating Style.

HOW you feed your child is the first step that determines WHAT you feed them. You can’t skip it or you’ll just be frustrated. -Mary Voogt

  • 16:48: I can only imagine that if you have multiple Eating Styles present in your family it’s a challenge to meal plan and adapt for each child’s needs at each meal. But Mary assures us it is possible!
  • 17:41: An intuitive eater likes comforting and soft foods. An adventurous eater will like something they can eat with their hands and personalize. An active eater would like something they can eat quickly with intense flavors. The analytical eater will want contrasting flavors or textures to feel satisfied.

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Making ONE Meal Everyone Will Enjoy

  • 19:53: Mary gives an example of how she balances all four Eating Styles in one meal. Some meals are easily customized for each type while still eating the same thing.
  • 20:59: What about when a meal is very specific to a certain style’s preferences? How do you adapt to the other styles?

You can still feed everybody the same food, you just need to make some little tweaks.  -Mary Voogt

  • 24:07: As the parent, you may just understand what your children need by observing them. If they’re old enough you can let them have some input on the meal plan. Intuitive eaters especially like helping to plan meals.
  • 25:44: I start identifying which Eating Styles my kids are. Mary and I both have daughters who love planning new recipes and trying new combinations. They both help meal plan and cook regularly for our families as well!

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Reduced Stress at Meals

  • 26:49: The bottom line is that once you know why your kids do certain things at mealtimes, it takes away some of the stress. Despite their different styles, Mary recognizes that all her kids are great eaters.
  • 28:23: As an analytical eater, Mary likes eating by herself in peace, which isn’t easy to come by with 4 kids! One of her strategies is to take deep breathes to help her body relax before meals. This is helpful for all styles to facilitate good digestion.
  • 29:33: As you eat with your kids you can talk about each family member’s style so your kids can understand how they eat.

When you learn about how your kids eat, you’ll learn so much about yourself. -Mary Voogt

  • 30:50: Through studying how each Eating Style works, Mary has realized why she doesn’t feel satisfied with certain types of meals even if she’s technically full.
  • 33:13: Mary has an Eating Styles membership where she will walk you through discovering your family’s types and help you work with each type for eating success. She describes more about what you can expect from the membership.
  • 37:32: We always leave parents with a message of hope. Mary shares her encouragement for parents.

All kids are great eaters, but we have to understand HOW. -Mary Voogt

Here at Kids Cook Real Food we teach connection, confidence, and creativity through cooking. My hope is that learning your child’s Eating Style will help you feed your children with confidence and be able to connect to them better now that you understand why they eat the way they do.

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Resources We Mentioned About Eating Styles

I am an affiliate for Mary’s course, but that doesn’t change your price!

Mary VoogtMary is a homeschooling mom of four with a passion for feeding kids well. She’s been blogging at Just Take A Bite for over 11 years, sharing recipes and advice on feeding kids and working around allergies. With a background in engineering, she loves to solve problems. That means finding root causes and a path forward to good health. She’s now training as an NTP, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, to go deeper into nutritional profiles for children. Her kids have had a ton of food allergies, and through that Mary has discovered that HOW kids eat is even more important than WHAT we feed them. She helps parents work through any feeding challenge to keep their kids healthy. Mary wants to give parents HOPE, no matter how big the struggle. Your child can eat well and feel great!

End mealtime worry: discover your child's eating style

What You Should Do Next:

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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