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5 Simple Nutrition Tips And Tricks For Parents Of Picky Eaters

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, provides five simple nutrition tips and tricks for parents of picky eaters.

“If you’re struggling to get your child to eat a balanced diet, you’re not alone. Many kids go through phases of selective eating, which can be frustrating for parents concerned about their child’s health,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Picky eating behaviour can begin as early as toddlerhood, typically around two or three years old. This stage is often referred to as the ‘neophobic’ phase, during which children may become wary of new foods and exhibit a strong preference for familiar food choices. The peak of picky eating behaviour typically occurs between three and six years old, but it can persist into the school-age years and even beyond for some children. The good news is that you can help your picky eater develop healthy eating habits with a few simple nutrition tips and tricks.”

1. Offer a Variety of Foods

One of the best ways to persuade your fussy eater to try new meals is to provide them with various choices. Exposing your child to different flavours and textures increases their chances of finding foods they enjoy and expanding their palate.


Here are some tips for offering a variety of foods:

  • Create colourful and visually appealing meals: Incorporate a rainbow of fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. The vibrant colours can be enticing and make mealtime more exciting.
  • Rotate food choices: Switch up the foods you offer regularly to prevent boredom and encourage curiosity—for example, alternate between pasta, grains, or protein sources.
  • Involve your child in meal planning: Let your picky eater have a say in what goes on their plate. Ask them to choose a vegetable or fruit to include in the meal.

2. Be a Role Model

Children often replicate their parents’ eating habits and preferences. If kids witness you eating a range of healthful meals, they are more likely to be willing to try something new. Be a good role model by displaying healthy eating habits at home.

Here’s how to lead by example:

  • Eat meals together: Whenever possible, have family meals where everyone eats the same food. This fosters a sense of togetherness and encourages your child to try what you’re eating.
  • Show enthusiasm for healthy foods: Express your enjoyment of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious options in front of your child. Use descriptive and positive language when talking about food.


3. Make Meals Fun and Interactive

Letting your child help with meal preparation can make mealtimes more enjoyable and encourage them to try new foods. Try these ideas to make meals fun and interactive:

  • Cooking together: Involve your child in age-appropriate cooking tasks, such as washing vegetables, stirring ingredients, or assembling sandwiches. When kids participate in preparing a meal, they may be more willing to taste the final product.
  • Create themed meals: Design meals around a fun theme, like “build your own taco” night or a “rainbow plate” with colourful foods. Let your child choose their toppings or ingredients.
  • Use creative presentation: Arrange food in appealing ways, such as creating smiley faces with vegetables or using cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of sandwiches and fruit.

4. Don’t Force or Pressure

It’s essential to avoid pressuring your picky eater to try new foods or finish everything on their plate. Forcing or coercing a child to eat can negatively affect food and mealtime stress. Instead, use a more patient and relaxed approach:

  • Practice the “one-bite rule”: Encourage your child to take one small bite of a new food, but don’t push them to eat more if they don’t like it. Over time, they may become more receptive to trying additional bites.
  • Be patient: Understand that it may take multiple exposures to a new food before your child develops a taste for it. Keep offering the food without pressure.
  • Offer alternatives: If your child refuses a particular food, provide an alternative that still meets their nutritional needs. For example, if they don’t like broccoli, offer carrots or peas instead.

5. Stay Consistent and Set Mealtime Rules

Consistency is essential when dealing with fussy eaters. Establishing clear mealtime rules and routines may make your kid feel more structured and predictable, making it easier for them to try new foods.

Consider the following tips for consistency:

  • Set regular meal and snack times: Stick to a consistent schedule for meals and snacks. Avoid allowing your child to graze throughout the day, as this can diminish their appetite during mealtimes.
  • Limit distractions: Create a calm and distraction-free environment during meals. Turn off the TV, put away electronic devices, and focus on the meal and each other.
  • Encourage portion control: Serve small portions to prevent overwhelming your child. They can always ask for more if they are still hungry.


“Remember that every child is unique, and it may take them time to become an adventurous eater. By offering a variety of foods, being a positive role model, making meals interactive and fun, avoiding pressure, and maintaining consistency, you can create a positive food environment supporting your picky eater’s journey toward enjoying a balanced and nutritious diet,” concludes Hewlett.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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