May 4, 2008 – 11:52 am

Healthy foodAll children need a balance of:

Energy giving foods (bread, cereals, pulses, milk, nuts and seeds)
Fibre (bread, pasta, rice, corn, cereals, pulses, potatoes Fruit and vegetables)
Protein meat, fish, cereals, eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt
Calcium (milk, cheese, yoghurt)

Teenage boys need more food than some adults as they are growing and use up lots of energy. Teenage girls need extra iron from lentils, beans, nuts, green vegetables or dried fruit.


Parents are advised to introduce a wide variety of different foods to their children as soon as possible so that their palates are used to different flavours and textures. However, some children seem to be born fussy eaters. They turn their noses up at what the rest of the family are eating and demand ‘special’ food. It could be that these children have been born with extra-sensitive taste buds and that their disgust is because they find some foods overpowering.

Avoid the temptation to make eating into a power struggle. It goes without saying that children who don’t eat their meals at meal times should NEVER be offered snacks in between meals. Pudding should only be given if a reasonable amount of savoury food has been eaten first. Don’t let them see the pudding before they are given it to eat or they may refuse to eat the first course because they want the dessert more!

Some tips for dealing with faddies:

  • Give them small portions often, rather than a big plateful which is off-putting for children with small appetites
  • Cut foods up smaller for children under 6 years (e.g. if they refuse to eat a chunk of carrot you might find that grated carrot is more palatable)
  • They may hate broccoli but a few bits of the florets mixed in with some peas may go unnoticed (don’t even try the stalks!)
  • If they refuse to eat meat or fish try scrambled egg or Marmite spread on toast

Try not to make a fuss about what they do and don’t eat. If they trust you to give them what they like they are more likely to eat everything put in front of them. Don’t ask them what they want to eat! You are the adult and you know what they like, so prepare the food and put it in front of them in a calm, ‘I know you like this’ way.

Make food sound like fun by calling small slices of toast ‘Toast Soldiers’ or suchlike

Note for Vegetarians: the Vegetarian Society has excellent diet sheets for children. See their website.

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