Fruitful Veg-ucation: Changing a Fussy Eater in Two Weeks? Prioritised Eating


My son became a fussy eater from the age of about two and a half and is currently four years of age. During this time the foods he would eat consistently narrowed. He would avoid all vegetables, salad and most fruits, rice, pasta and potato other than waffles, chips and croquettes. He would eat bread, baked beans, tinned spaghetti and fish fingers. All other meat went untouched.

I am a believer in serving up foods time and time again eaten or not, hoping that eventually they will start to eat them, and I am against giving alternatives when they are refused. As long as they have had the opportunity to eat, if they skip a meal so be it.

However over such a prolonged period I began to bend to the pressure of wanting him to eat something! The feeling when throwing out the food he had refused wore me down and the repertoire of meals I would serve shrank drastically.

The Stick Or The Carrot?

In the early days we tried the stick. Pressuring him to eat up and making him remain at the table. This was extremely negative and a very traumatic experience for us all and resulting in tantrums and awful scenes.

We quickly abandoned the stick and went for the carrot idea, promising rewards such as pictures for his reward chart and puddings for trying / eating certain foods. This actually got us nearly nowhere as my toddlers stubbornness was do strong that just trying anything new was out of the question and brought tears and tantrums.

Many meals skipped and much guilt and frustration later we may have turned a corner and it is so simple I am cursing myself for not thinking of it earlier.

Prioritized Eating

Think about your own eating habits, what parts of a meal do you prefer or, eat first? With a nice Sunday Roast I always eat the Yorkshire pudding first and broccoli is defiantly last.

I had an idea to try and hold back one preferred item on a separate plate a basically use it as leverage to get him to try the vegetables and meats I new would normally be rejected.” No sugar snaps, no potato waffle”

This was of course met with tears and resistance the first time, but I stood my ground and he did try them in return for some if his favored food.

After each meal I decided to draw the foods he had tried on a chart and let him colour them in. I hoped in some way this could help the memory of these sink in and I rewarded him with pictures on his reward chart.

The second time was easier and the third was met with no complaints except haggling over how much he had to eat before he received some of his preferred food. Each time I pushed further to get him to eat more and to try foods further outside of his comfort zone.

Within one week my fussy toddler ate; chicken legs, butternut squash, sugar snaps, carrot, strawberry, beef stew, jacket potatoes, cabbage, pear, grapes, roast potatoes and spaghetti Bolognese! Is this the same child?

Each time he ate something from his plate he was rewarded with a small amount of something he preferred. Once he had tried something he often decided it wasn’t so bad and was happier to eat some for the reward.

I’m counting this as a major breakthrough because I placed a bowl of pasta and Bolognese sauce in front if him this evening (no reward food) and he ate it. No argument. He then asked for more.

Anyone who has a fussy eater can imagine my relief!

One question remains.

Why the hell did I not think of this before!!!

I now have hope. And I also hope it helps someone else with a fussy eater. Every toddler and fussy eater is different so Good Luck and I feel your pain!



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