top of page

Managing fussy eating

"The estimates of picky eating in childhood vary widely, ranging from 5 percent to more than 25 percent, depending on the definition of selective eating. But “there is no consensus on the prevalence in adults,” D r. Zucker said

Parents play a powerful role in children's eating behaviour, providing both genes and environment for children. For example, they influence children's developing preferences and eating behaviours by making some foods available rather than others, and by acting as models of eating behaviour."

You may be worried about yourself or your child not eating balanced meals . This blog aims to help you make a plan that will encourage your child and yourself to eat balanced meals and enjoy your meals

How do you recognise fussy eating?

  1. Regular refusal to eat certain food /foods

  2. Getting very upset when offered the offending food/foods

  3. Eating very small amount or none of the offending food/foods

  4. Behaviour change at meal times

  5. Health and energy levels are affected

Fussy eating can go away over time with new experiences but feeding difficulties may require support and advice from a health care professional Dietitian. When you or your child are not eating balance or healthy this can result for example child may not grow properly or yourself developing malnutrition or unhealthy habits that can cause weight gain/ weight loss

14 Top tips to help you and your child :

  1. Plan - make meal times relaxing and fun for everyone , plan together what you will eat and follow the balanced approach when planning meals- see the eat well plate guide .

  2. Have regular meals and snacks

  3. Avoid distraction - e.g TV dinners /games /using mobile

  4. Eat together as family- children copy adults so perhaps you can address your own eating habits first

  5. Have a small portion first of any new food that you have planned to eat

  6. Avoid reacting to the food in front of your child and show it's OK to say no to food rather than behave badly

  7. Take time to eat but not too long as meal times can become an ordeal

  8. Avoid an alternative meal to the one the whole family planned and is eating

  9. Make meals colourful, tempting and interesting

  10. Involve family in meal preparation so that you and your child are feeling comfortable with a new food you are willing to try

  11. Offer new food with favourite option and start small one new food at a time. You can try add the offending food into a family favourite dish .

  12. Family working as a team for preparing, laying the table , eating together ,washing and clearing the table together can encourage consistency, good routine and avoid any confusion

  13. Praise yourself and your child for trying something new or the offending food

  14. Go slow go small and go again to reduce any anxiety and increase familiarity .

  15. Above all be patient with your child and yourself .

6 differences between fussy eating and Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder ARFID

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder is described as eating and feeding disturbance that results in a failure to meet nutritional energy needs . It can look like fussy eating as both have limited range of food they like. But there six main differences:

  1. Sudden or drastic weight loss . Someone with ARFID can present with drastic /sudden weight loss resulting from increased sensitivities ,aversion to food with or without lack of interest in food that cause restrictive eating .This can be triggered by an adverse event around eating e.g vomiting, choking or a real or feared allergic reaction . Whereas fussy eater maintain weight despite limit in food choice .

  2. Failure to gain or maintain weight - Children diagnosed with ARFID can fail to gain expected weight . This means they can fail to thrive or grow form an early age. Adults with ARFID may struggle to maintain a weight . Fussy eater on the other hand can maintain growth within their expected growth and maintain a healthy weight .

  3. Those with ARFID find it difficult to eat in a variety of settings and find it difficult to be around certain types of food. They can experience intense anxiety and can cause increased isolation. Fussy eater can socialise with little distress regarding food that will be present .

  4. Fussy eater can tolerate a variety of textures, smells and visual presentations of food with some distress. Person struggling with ARFID will have anxiety, unable to consume food with certain textures, taste, smell and presentations . They can become highly stressed , maybe gagging or spitting food out .

  5. Both fussy eater and those with ARFID may avoid a food , person with ARFID have a more intense aversion to food due to fear of choking or vomiting or a real or perceived allergic reaction. This can be extreme e.g having a liquid diet after choking . Fussy eater does not express fear as motive to limited eating or food choices

  6. Person with ARFID may lack interest in food and eating saying they are not hungry, don't think about food and food is not a priority to them. Where as fussy eaters feel hungry , interested in food they enjoy and do not lack interest in eating food .


References :

Parental influences on eating behaviours :

Research shows that kids watch parents :

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square

Tel : 07551910919

Follow Tabby Kabeer :

© 2023 by The Plan. Proudly created with

 Start living healthy TODAY

  • Facebook Basic Square
  • LinkedIn Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Clean Grey
bottom of page