Archive for Fussy Eaters

26 Feb 2013

Learning to like vegetables – should we disguise the taste?

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Nutrition Bites

Not enough vegetables are eaten by children. We know that from thousands of studies across the western world, and it’s evident from our rising problems with obesity in this country. Vegetables are low in energy and dense in nutrients – which makes them a very important part of children’s diets.

The main trouble is actually getting a child to like vegetables and to eat them.

The European project ‘HabEat’ has studied different methods of making children like vegetables – without force, bribery, or punishments! The three ways they researched were:

1. Repeated exposure to the vegetable – at least 8-10 tastes

2. Adding a flavour (sweet or savoury) to the vegetable

3. Adding energy (eg ketchup) to the vegetable

Overall, the results showed that the technique of repeated exposure is the most effective for increasing vegetable consumption in children of pre-school age, especially since this means not adding ingredients which are not in line with public health recommendations (sugar, salt, sauces, etc).

Interestingly, adding energy (eg ketchup) showed no positive results in the consumption of vegetables in the long term.


Hayley Kuter

Paediatric Dietitian

22 Jul 2012

Table manners at all-time low

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Nutrition Bites

Texting whilst at the dinner table, not washing hands before a meal, and scoffing food in a hurry are all examples of the table manners in decline as found by a survey at the recent Birmingham Food Fest (July 13-19). The tradition of eating as a family, and savouring the meal in front of us has become rare – with our busy lives, social media and other distractions taking over.
As a paediatric dietitian, I often see families who don’t manage to eat meals together, or allow the tv on, games and other distractions to take over from the main event. Does this affect nutrition? Of course!
Food is such an important part of family life, and of nutrition too – and this survey perhaps highlights the need for back-to-basics approach to mealtimes and eating. The Birmingham Food Fest website offers a guide to table etiquette: Good Etiquette Guide
– perhaps a good start to re-establishing values that seem to have been dropped.

Hayley Kuter
Paediatric Dietitian
Blossom Consulting Ltd
30 Jul 2011

Juice – too sweet to be good?

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Nutrition Bites

Fruit juices have been getting some bad press lately….and I think it’s about time. I am not an advocate of drinking fruit juices regularly, and certainly discourage parents from giving their children juice on a daily basis – no matter how fresh/pure/expensive it is.

Research by a group at the University of Bangor has shown how drinking fruit juice regularly enhances a subconscious liking for sweet tastes and leads to a cycle of sweet food and drink consumption – a big risk for obesity, dental decay, and for children; refusal to eat ‘main’ meals and savoury foods. Whether fruit juice is 100% and no added sugar is irrevelant; both are loaded with sugar and calories. Think about how many pieces of fruit are needed to make a glass of juice – many more than you’d be capable of eating alone. Once the fibre is discarded from the fruit (when squeezed), the ability to feel full is lost and we can drink litres of juice (and it’s sugar, fructose) without feeling full.

The Bangor University study has called for juice to be excluded from the 5-a-day portions, and I agree. Have a look at my table below to decide for yourself.

What to drink instead? Water! Milk! Let children get used to plain tastes and that’s all they’ll ask for. Juices and sweet drinks can be kept for special occasions only.

100ml of:  Cola  Ready-made smoothie 100% fruit  Black-currant squash carton  Apple juice: 100%  Orange juice: 100%
 Calories (Kcal) 






 Carbohydrate (g) 






 Sugars (g) 






12 Jul 2011

Do kids need multivitamins?

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Nutrition Bites

Millions of adults take vitamins and nutritional supplements in the hope of achieving better health, fewer diseases and to defy the ageing process. In 2009, £674.6 million worth of nutritional supplements were sold in the UK. But are they really worth it and should we be giving our children nutritional supplements too?

A new report by Behind the Headlines, an NHS service that investigates health claims, tells us that despite the wide availability of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements such as fish oils, we should buy and take them with caution; and particular caution is needed when giving them to children.

Read more

05 Jun 2011

Vegetable Wars

No Comments Fussy Eaters

I would guess that the food group that evokes the most anxiety amongst parents are vegetables. Just why vegetables are the perennial problem, it’s hard to know; possibly because parents see vegetables as super-nutritious, or because parents themselves don’t like them but wish their children would.

We are all born with a preference for sweet foods, but this aside, children will approach all new foods pretty much the same. Including vegetables.

So how do we get children to eat and enjoy their veg? Forcing your child to eat something they’re already slightly wary of will only increase their distrust of the food. Forget waging a war with them over finishing their vegetables. Patience is needed, along with regular exposure to vegetables to develop a sense of familiarity. We could also take some guidance from a new piece of research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in February this year; 434 parents of children aged 2-5 were interviewed, and one of the major factors predicting whether a child liked vegetables was whether or not their parent ate vegetables.

If you’re worried about your child not eating vegetables, perhaps it’s time you ate them yourself?

14 May 2011

‘Happy Little Eaters’ – fun toddler food classes starting soon!

No Comments Fussy Eaters

An exciting new class is about to start in Altrincham, Cheshire called ‘Happy Little Eaters’.

Aimed at children aged between 18 months and 4 years, ‘Happy Little Eaters’ has been developed my myself and a specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Joanne Jones. As health professionals, we have spent many years working with children who are fussy or reluctant eaters, and we also know how to promote a positive approach to food from the beginning.

‘Happy Little Eaters’ are fun activity sessions for parents and toddlers that will introduce your child to new and exciting food experiences, and ultimately aims to create a happy, healthy approach to eating. Learn how to avoid battles at the meal table and help your child embrace healthy eating! Too good to be true? Come and try out the first session for free! Details are found on the following link:

07 May 2011

A word on…Bottles, Dummies & Cups

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Weaning

I’m often asked about the best brand of feeder cups for toddlers who are almost finished with their baby bottles. My answer is always the same: the best drinking vessels for children over the age of one are open, non-lidded cups – yes, just the same shape as the ones you use!

Baby bottles and also dummies (or pacifiers) should really be discarded by the time your child is 12 months of age. This may sound like an impossible feat to achieve but a great deal of evidence suggests this is the right thing to do. With a bit of practice a child can get the hang of open cups – I have seen whole nursery classes of one year olds take just a few weeks to get used to the change.

5 reasons to throw out the bottles and dummies when your child is one….

Read more

21 Apr 2011

Top tips for happy eaters

No Comments Fussy Eaters, Weaning

From the moment weaning begins, it is important that your child starts to nurture a life-long positive approach to food, mealtimes and eating. Meals should be happy from the start! Follow my top tips for happy eaters and both you and your child can have stress free, happy meals together.

  1. Let your child have the control over what goes into their mouth: try giving them their own spoon or offer some finger foods, allow them to see the food they’re about to eat (don’t hide it in a bowl out of their reach), and allow your child to expore the food by touching it before they eat it. If spoon-feeding, avoid pushing the spoon to the back of their mouths – place the spoon near their lips and let them choose to take it off the spoon themselves.
  2. Include a variety of foods in your child’s diet and don’t ignore previously refused foods: it can take 15-20 exposures of one food before a child learns to like the taste.
  3. Never force your child to eat anything: this includes persuading them to eat beyond their appetite. Don’t worry about having a clean plate – it is much better that your child learns to understand their own feelings of hunger and fullness. Don’t panic if they haven’t eaten much that day – forcing them to eat will not make anything better in the long term.
  4. Role model good eating: children love to mimic and if they see you eating (and enjoying) your vegetables they are likely to copy.
  5. Mess is good! Messy meal times are happy meal times. Allow your chld to explore food with all their senses and stop yourself from wiping them clean before the meal is finished. If children are not given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the pleasure of exploring food before they eat it, they often end up disinterested in food and reluctant to eat.

Finally, expect that your child will go through a phase of fussy eating. It is a normal developmental milestone, but if appropriately managed will usually resolve. If you are worried about prolonged fussy eating, nutrient intake or extreme food refusal it is a good idea to get in touch with a paediatric dietitian to help you nip the problem in the bud before it gets out of hand.