I had some thinking to do around my son's own eating and ended up asking myself this very simple question: Which is more important in the grand scheme of things-- that he enjoy his food and eating, or that he eat exactly what I want him to eat?
This made it pretty simple. Forgive my bias, but I am a person who is still living down some food aversions because of being forced to eat food I didn't want at the time. And for what it's worth, I've discovered as a parent that I am far more relaxed with my son about food than I ever thought I would be. But it's worked for us.
We all hear of friends whose children have a cultivated palate; fun to brag about, but very rare. In working with young children over the years, what I have seen is that they like what they like and if it's not something they do like, they don't usually want it near, or heaven forbid, ON their plate. Breads, rice and pasta with Parmesan or butter are usually accepted; sauces, not so universally. Sweet things are often favored. But the more complex flavors adults often enjoy take many of us years and years to work into.
In our house, I am pretty laid back about food. My son probably eats more stuff in the yogurt/cottage cheese area; loves cheeses, apples, bananas and grapes, the usual mac-n-cheese (again with the cheese!), almonds, dried fruit, breadsticks, the occasional whole grain cracker, and sometimes will venture a bit of salmon, soup, or pasta salad. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a hit too, as well as hard boiled eggs. Meal and snack foods look a lot alike, and I usually just put two choices out for him and let him at it. Apples and cheese, or eggs and pretzels...this is his speed.
I don't put a lot of new stuff on his plate and just let him ask us for a bite of ours when he's ready. This works better for us, and he can always have a serving of something if he's interested.And because of this, he's not hesitant to ask to try what we're having.
I am not a big fan of the One Bite Rule for two reasons: 1.As an adult, I would be very irate if I was told to take one bite of anything just to please someone else, so I have empathy for kids, and 2. I have seen more mealtimes than I care to recall end in tears and anger because of the negotiating that goes on with this sort of thing. "Just one bite and you can have..." It is truly painful to witness a child who just can't will themselves to try something that looks disgusting (to them) miss out on a dessert or another reward. And yes, most often it is the bribery that tends stymie the parent/child relationship.
If it were me, I'd leave the whole thing alone. Sticker charts just draw attention to the issue. Your daughter may also be responding to feelings that she can't explain or even be aware of, but it may be that she feels what/how she's eating is more important to you than She Herself is. Taking the pressure off can't hurt.
TWO Concrete ideas that have worked wonders for me and the families who have chosen to use them:
1. Snack boxes: Load up a plastic container with snacks you *know* she likes--just a few--and use food that will keep for the day. Then, when she says she's hungry, you can offer this to her and then let her choose what's in the box. This is a way for kids to eat without having to engage with their parents about WHAT to eat. Offer it whenever she's hungry between meals.
2. Earlier dinner/snack time: I swear this has been a lifesaver- offer a good snack when she's hungry around 4:30-5:30, not necessarily when dinner is ready. Then, at dinner time, when you and your husband are seated, let her come to the table and join you if she wants. Many kids need to eat before the adults do, and if her hunger is sated, she may be all the more pleasant if she does join you for supper. Then, feel free to offer her what you're having, and have a familiar option around too. Kids who aren't voraciously hungry do better in social situations, and it sounds like you would like dinner to be a social situation in your family.
It's very common for young children to pop on and off their chairs during a meal. (they tend to do this less in preschool or daycare, where other children are modeling the mealtime behaviors) This is in keeping with their having a short attention span, and many kids go through this phase around this age. If you want her to sit through a meal, consider offering some crayons and paper or another something to do. Asking a toddler/preschooler to sit through a full meal is huge...they can become bored and unpleasant. We let our son down to play when we can see that he's done eating, and this works for everyone. My husband and I enjoy our meal far more, and we know that as long as mealtimes are pleasant for everyone, we're okay.
(By the way, we rarely go out to dinner these days, as he's too active for a restaurant...when we do, it's not relaxing at all.)
If you can keep the eating enjoyable and low key, you'll find that in several years your daughter may be a person who appreciates a wide variety of foods. Of course, this may not happen until she's 20, but what's the rush? Just keep the house free of junk food and let her work through this on her own. Pushing our children often causes them to push back!