Parenting: Light at the End of the Tunnel for Picky Eaters

To the parents of fussy eaters, I just wanted to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

When Aristotle started eating solids, we had a rough time feeding him. He didn’t like a lot of food and there was a lot of stress over his lack of enthusiasm for food. As I’ve said before, when you come from a Chinese family – a traditional at that – a child that exclaims, “I hate eating!” is like a child who has just cussed every expletive on the “no-no” list.

Even though I read that most picky eaters grow out of the picky eating phase by about 7-9 years, I confess that I feared this day would never come for us.

To highlight the extent of Aristotle’s pickiness, let me relate some of the feeding experiences we have had with him when he was little:

  • Aristotle liked a particular brand of instant noodles but only that brand. If you tried to substitute it with another brand (we ran out of the ones he liked one day), he wouldn’t eat. We’d cooked it up, used the same flavour – chicken – and served it on a nondescript plate, but he only had to take one mouthful to know it wasn’t his brand.
  • I tried to sneak bananas into a juice blend and he would not have any of it. The moment the cup reached his nose, he turned his head. Even though he was keen to try it only a moment before, his acute sense of smell told him it contained something he wouldn’t like.

There was really no way to hide anything from him because his senses were so discriminating. He could smell the rat from a mile away. This was not a boy where you could pull the wool over his eyes.

Now that Aristotle is 6, I have noticed a different pattern of food consumption. He has been more willing to try “new” things. He is also expanding his repertoire of “favourite” foods, eating foods like nasi lemak and curry chicken, prawns, meats with different preparations, and even some veggies, like broccoli. To increase his green count (veggie consumption), I started mixing fruit and veggie smoothies in the Vitamix and he has been drinking them by the cupful. Make no mistake, the fruit and veggie smoothie would never have worked a couple of years ago, even though there is not a hint of green in the taste.

I won’t go so far as to say he eats everything now but he does eat a heck of a lot more variety than he would have as a younger child. So if you have a fussy eater, too, it may just be a waiting game. In the mean time, if you’re up for it, you can try some of the tricks we did to boost our picky eater’s food consumption:

We have also found two tactics that work fairly consistently:

  • eating in the company of other children
  • exercise or vigorous play before meal time is a great way to boost an appetite

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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