Ditto to a PP's recommendation for Ellyn Satter. We used to get into major food battles with my picky eater DS, and we tried everything- bribing with desserts, forcing, a reward chart. Now we follow Ellyn's plan, which is basically....
-Follow a division of responsibility for eating. Parents decide what will be served and when. Kids decide whether to eat each item served, and how much.
-No cajoling, bribing, no pressure of any kind on the kid to eat any item.
-Serve healthy meals and snacks at regular times, and make sure to include at least one thing you know the kid likes (like bread).
-No alternatives if the kid doesn't want to eat what's served.
-No eating between meals. If he doesn't care for what's served at lunch and is hungry an hour later, he has to wait til snack to eat more. But with snacks coming at regular times 2x/day, he doesn't have to wait long. This part is crucial because it ensures they come to the table hungry and ready to eat the healthy stuff you've made. DS used to fill up on cereal and crackers between meals and wouldn't eat at mealtimes.
That's pretty much it! So to give an example, this is how dinner worked at our house last night. I served a Moroccan vegetable stew ( ), chicken, brown rice, and bread. DS didn't want to try the stew, and doesn't care for brown rice (sigh), so he had chicken and bread. DD had some of everything. We all ate together, made conversation, and didn't focus at all on who was eating what- we didn't comment on how DD ate the stew when DS didn't, though it was tempting. Not the most balanced meal for DS, but he will make up for it at another meal. And he woke up really hungry this morning because he ate so little, and had a lot of eggs and toast this morning.
I love it. I think it will really help him develop into an enthusiastic eater, and it keeps me from going insane at mealtime. At our lowest with this stuff, I remember having to leave the table and go to my room to cry and jump up and down, I was so frustrated. So happy to have a better plan now!