Top five tips on dealing with a fussy eater

Getting children to eat healthy foods can be difficult, Annabel Karmel offers her top five tips on getting your fussy eater to enjoy a more varied diet

fussy eater

It’s the phase every parent dreads and believe me I know how you feel – my son was the world’s fussiest eater but I came out the other side! It will get better – I promise. Around ninety per cent of children go through at least one lengthy phase of fussy eating so the good news is you’re not alone.

My advice is to try and introduce tasty, healthy alternatives early and don’t just give them foods they like as this will simply encourage their fussiness. For example, most children love chicken nuggets and fish fingers so cook-up some other delicious (and incredibly simple) alternatives to a fussy eater’s favourite –  coat strips of chicken or fish in Rice Krispies or crushed Cornflakes and bake them rather than frying.

Hiding veggies in pasta sauces is also a good top tip if you have a super strict veggie detective to feed. What they can’t see, they can’t pick out! I like making a tomato sauce packed with blended onions, leeks, celery, tomatoes, pepper and carrots. Or, make veggies such as courgettes into pasta using a spiraliser!

It’s common sense but a hungry child is a less fussy child, so avoid snacks or drinks close to mealtimes and give healthy choices at times when children are at their most hungry like when they come home from school.

Top five tips to get young children eating a more varied diet:

1. A reward chart just for trying new things or and tasting them can be really effective. If they even attempt to try something rather than ignore it, they should be rewarded.

2. Offer children a taster of something new in the form of a ‘grown-up’ starter – a little teacup or saucer of vegetables that they could try that would be in addition to their main meal.

3. Try and introduce tasty, healthy alternatives early on. For example, it’s no secret that children love chips so why not try baking sweet potato wedges and sprinkling with Parmesan instead? They are naturally sweet and baking them in the oven caramelises the natural flavour – kids will love this nutritious snack.

4. If you can sit down to eat together, do it. Kids are so impressionable – they’ll want what you are eating, so don’t forget to load your own plate with healthy foods!

5. A good trick I found is to prepare my children’s dinner with them. They like to be involved in the process. Children like to assemble their own food, so you could lay out ingredient bowls and let your child fill and fold their own wraps or choose toppings for their home made pizzas – it’s a proven tactic to get them to try healthy new foods that they would usually shun.

Details: For more information, visit Annabel Karmel. If you enjoyed this article, you may like this story on Annabel Karmel’s tips for women setting up their own business.

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