Our 8 year old daughter has always been a picky eater - even as a baby we had a hard time convincing her to try different baby foods. We assumed she'd grow out of it, but it hasn't happened and it's becoming an increasing problem.
I guess we should be thankful that the range of foods she's willing to eat does include some healthy options like carrot and cucumber, so we're not as badly off as some. But her favourite things are pasta tossed in pesto, noodles tossed in soy sauce and various kinds of junk. Given the choice, she'd eat nothing else.
We're vegetarian so we're already limited - in fact we've got so desparate for her to broaden her range of foods that we've tried to get her to eat fish, but she refuses. Her mum & I both feel it's important to eat a meal together as a family, but at the same time we're not keen on cooking multiple different dishes for everyone. So we alternate between her pickyness being allowed to dictate the families' menu to a narrow and boring range of dishes, or serving things she dislikes which she will eat while making gagging faces and trying every trick in the book to get away from the table early.
Things she particularly dislikes which are particularly problematic include potato and melted cheese. This means eating out with friends is a nightmare, since other parents and establishments typically serve things popular with children like chips/fries and pizza. So she ends up not eating.
We've tried being nice about it and encouraging her to try new things. We've tried being nasty about it and making her eat things she doesn't like. We've tried carrot and stick by suggesting she could eat with her friends more often if she was happy eating different things. We've tried involving her more in menu planning and food preparation, both of which she greeted with boundless enthusiasm and then refused to eat anything unfamliar, even if she'd helped plan or make it.
Since we've made/encouraged her to repeatedly try things she doesn't like, she has had repeated exposure (yes, more than the magic 10-15 times) to a lot of the things she rejects, to no avail. Is there anything else we can try? Anything with a proven track record?