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Naturopath approved tips for the fussy eater

You might remember when Fran shared with us her meal time battles trying to get Margo to eat more vegetables. If you didn't get a chance to read it, pop over here and have a read. 

Well to assist with some more tips and I guess, offer some reassurance for those of you that are going through the same struggle, I have put together these tips to help you through the day. 


  • Once your child reaches 12 months old milk does not necessarily have to be a staple in diet. In fact, I find that milk really hinders the development of a child’s ‘solid food’ diet. Solid food should now make up for the majority of their calories. Often, I find that fussy eaters are big milk drinkers.

How often does your child refuse dinner but then smash 500ml of milk before bed? Do not underestimate them, they know that when they do not eat their dinner they will still get their milk. This is the time when you need to wean the milk and reduce their consumption. It won’t be easy but it has to happen. Some evenings they might go to bed without much dinner and half of the milk that they usually would have usually had but after a few days or a week they will realise they need to start eating dinner otherwise they will go hungry. Be strong.

  • Get a bit of a routine around food and stick with it. Kids that constantly pick at snacks all morning are clearly not going to be hungry for lunch. Try and limit food 2hrs before the next main meal. Reflect on this and think about your children’s snacks, what they comprise on and how close they are to their main meal times. Keep them light. We are often always trying to ‘feed’ up our kids and then wonder why they won’t eat a proper main meal.
  • Unless your child is severely underweight or ill take the pressure off yourself, if they miss lunch, don’t stress. They will eventually eat. The more pressure you put on them the more likely they will rebel. 
  • Try not to put pressure on your child eat the complete plate of food if they are convincingly telling you they have had enough. We are the generation of wellness change and we have to teach our children to listen to their body and stop when they are full. How many of you had your parents forcing you to finish your plate? How many of you have trouble with satiation and finding the power to stop eating? We need to be more connected, we need to teach our children how to not overeat and give them the tools to learn to do this by helping them connect to their body and their mind. Of course, you have to be strong and if they are then asking for dessert 5 minutes later well they had you hook line and sinker and you therefore need to put dinner back in front of them.
  • Get your children involved in the kitchen. Make them apart of preparation and get them excited about food and what it has to offer them nutritionally but also socially. Food is a way to connect with others. It is fun and exciting but also obviously super delicious. Teach them this. Food is not just to sustain and satisfy nutritionally.
  • From the get go when your children are young and don’t grasp the concept of ‘health and wellbeing’ try and limit labelling food ‘good and bad’ and do not over emphasise the good foods like greens and vegetables and make a ‘thing’ of them. We all know kids at times want to play us and if they know we want them to eat certain food they often won’t. Play it cool.
  • As your children get older though begin to educate them about better food choices, about health and wellbeing and that their body will get ‘sad’ and ‘unhappy’ and not work very well when you give it too much sugar and not so healthy foods.
  • Simply do not buy or have in your pantry too many, if at all ‘treat foods’. They are therefore not an option at home. Make treat foods something really special and enjoy them as a family once or twice a week.
  • If you never offer or allow your children to enjoy not so healthy foods then you may end up with a child that over indulges when the opportunity arises (i.e. parties) or begins to sneak in foods. Don’t deprive your child from these experiences. Balance and honesty is the key.
  • Parenting takes strength, will power and energy. Make sure you are filling yourself up so you have these things and do not give in. OK, occasionally giving in is fine but if you feel like you are giving in each day with treats and not so good food because they are not eating their proper meals then maybe it is time to change. 
  • For some meals, go for it and try and load up meals with vegetables and ‘hide’ them like in risottos, soups, homemade burgers, bolognese / pasta sauces etc. BUT… try not to get in the habit of this all the time. Be honest with your children, teach them about food and get them excited about it.
  • Remember, you want to help establish a good relationship between your child and their diet. Be positive about it and do not let it consume you or them.

Good luck, and hang in there! 


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