Eating Poorly

February 12th, 2013 posted by Family Corner Staff

Photo Copyright Amanda Formaro/The Family 1998, 1999, 2000


“My son, Cole is 2 1/2 and only eats waffles and french fries. He used to like chicken nuggets, grilled cheese and fish sticks but has given up on them. This is very frustrating since he is not getting the proper nutrition. Forcing him only causes wars. HELP!!”

~ Lane

Answers from our members:


I guess there are other kids that won’t eat. This article is interesting. Grandma


I just want to recommend a very good back called Feeding Your child For Lifelong Health by Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D and Melvin B. Heyman, M.D. Its an excellent book for all parents with children of infants up to 6 years old and beyond.

Connie Cookwrote:

I used to tell my girls, you only have to take one bite of the foods they hated ie; green bean, as they got older they learned to like these foods today as grown children they will eat anything, including pickled okra. I hope this helps. Mrs. Cook


Hi, When my son was about the same age as yours (2 1/2) he also went through that only eating one thing phase. I was really disturbed about it and took him to the dr. He would only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. His doctor said this: “Don’t worry about it. In any house that has food the child will not starve. This is a phase that he is going through and if I am really worried about his nutrition during this time to supplement with a multivitamin.”He also said that” I should feel lucky that he eats, some children don’t eat anything.” I went home and still encouraging him to eat other things, I would give him the peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a Bugs Bunny chewable multivitamin. He really thought that was great since he thought the vitamin was a snack after eating. It gave me an idea and I started encourgeing other foods, while rewarding with the multi-vitamin(snack) and soon I had him eating much better. I hope this has been of some help to you. I am the director of a daycare from birth to three and there have been children that I have had to use this reward system with. Fruit can always be a reward for eating or finishing ones meal, since it is good for them and they need a certain amount of servings a day anyway. Lots of luck!


Luckily my 17-month-old eats everything in sight — but I saw something like your problem on “20/20” or “Dateline” and took note of it for future reference (in case she reverts to not eating by the time she’s 2!) The show featured different families whose kids wouldn’t eat anything but French fries, pizza and other junk food! The parents started holding back the children’s intake of fruit juice, which can quell appetite; they cut off most in-between meal snacks; and offered them the same new food every day until they tried it, without pressuring the kids to do so. The theory here is that kids like to make their own decisions, and that they will often mimic what parents do and eat. One Mom gave her kid a small scoop of broccoli on his dish every day for a week, and said nothing about it. By the 3rd or 4th day, he tried it on his own. After that, he was asking for it! I was impressed. From my own experience, I know my daughter wants to eat whatever I’m having (which, incidentally, is helping a lot with my battle to lose weight!) Sorry about all the secondhand info, but you never know what works! Maybe you can write the show’s producers (NBC or ABC?) and ask for more info about this program and other parents’ successes. Good luck.


My son finally started eating!!! He is now almost 3 (2 months away) and did the same thing. He would eat chicken and pasta of any kind. It also seemed like he just nibbled here and there and never ate big amounts. We would try to make him take one bite of something new and that was like the war zone. Then one day I guess he just outgrew that stage because he started eating everything under the sun. Just hang in there.


I have a 4 yr old that was on a poor weight gain program due to the hospitals problems. Anyway my little girl wouldn’t eat anything but cereal breakfast, lunch and dinner. The health department got onto me, but u try to cook food a child doesn’t want and make them eat! Anna tried after a while we started on apple sauce with butter and moved up to fish sticks, French fries,pasta w/butter,popcornw/butter,whole milk strictly, chocolate milk, pot chips, pizza. She moved her way up slowly and my nerves were tore up everyday for 2 yrs. I have a home health nurse here 2 days a week because they said she wouldn’t live long. At the time she was 11 pounds and 1 yr old. I was a mess. If anyone needs help in this problem email me at [email protected] I will be glad to help others when I needed others to help me. Natalie


They don’t call this age the “terrible twos” for nothing. Two year olds are notorious for doing exactly what we DON’T want them to do. They are discovering that they have preferences and try very hard to control their environment. As a parent, there are 3 battles you will never win with your child. You can’t make them go to sleep; you can’t make them use the potty and you can’t make them eat. These three things are impossible to force. We can only offer the good and desirable options and hope (and pray!) they choose the right option. Your son is likely to go through several “food jags” over the next several years. I know parents of teenagers who complain of similar problems, so don’t expect it to end when he trots off to school. The best thing you can do is continue to offer nutritious foods and not make an issue out of his choices. If you are concerned about adequate nutrition, you might try giving him a children’s multivitamin to balance his diet. For added vegetables, offer him some veggie juice instead of fruit juice. My personal favorite is V-8 Splash b/c it is high in both Vitamins C and A. My children also enjoy Yummi Bears supplements. They are vitamin, food and mineral supplements packed into delicious gummi bears. Ask your local health food store or visit Yummi Bear’s website at (nothing in it for me, my kids just like the bears!) Since he likes French fries, he might also like fried zucchini. It has the same texture and a similar taste, but is far better for him. Since it is fall, zucchini and other squashes should be plentiful in the grocery store or farmer’s market. Simply slice the zucchini into French fry shapes and deep fry or bake in the oven. Any squash can be prepared just like any version of potatoes, including French fries. Butternut squash is sweet and usually agreeable with most small children. If you cut it into small squares or strips, your son might accept it even better. You might also try adding small pieces of fruit to his waffles such as blueberries, raisins, dried cranberries (Craisins) or make treat out of it with strawberries and Cool-Whip. You might also try bargaining with him, but go easy. Offer him some healthy choices and tell him he can have his favorite food once he eats some of your choice. Make the portions very small and be prepared to back off if he resists your bargain. I hope my ramblings give you some ideas to work with. If you have any other questions, you are welcome to email me directly.


I went through the exact thing with my now 4 year old. He wouldn’t touch a vegetable or meat, but he loved starchy things like muffins. I ended up either tossing fruit into muffins or pancakes (cold no syrup) and giving it to him as a snack. Another thing that worked for me was making pumpkin, zucchini, or carrot muffins or breads. He would eat them and get the vitamins and fiber he needed to boot. The bottom line for us was not to force the issue. If that is all he will eat, find some ways to get extra nutrition into the foods. If you just give him what he wants without making a big deal of it, he will grow out of it.


My son, Taylor 3 is still the same way. See, he has a short list of favorites. And he is also very spoiled. What’s worse, is he won’t eat till he’s good and ready. Instead of eating at dinner time…


I KNOW how you feel! My son was very similar and I lost the battle btw! What I ended up doing was buying children’s vitamins. I tried a variety of different brands until we found ones he liked. (He thought they were lollies hehehe). This gave ME piece of mind. Read the labels first and make sure you aren’t just loading them up with colours, preservatives and what ever else some companies stuff into them. I used an organic brand. I would supplement with vit C. Some brands omit minerals like iron so just check the labels and see what they have in them. Oh I just remembered another thing that he DID like was fresh frozen fruit (He thought they were ice blocks). I froze orange segments, bananas, grapes ..also I used to freeze wee cups/containers of milk or flavoured milk on paddle pop sticks. Have a play round with different kinds, see what he will take. One more thing.. the one thing he ALWAYS liked was chocolate..(thanks to granny!) so I would sometimes get away with pouring chocolate sauce over his foods. Good luck! It’s not easy I know.


I too had the same problem with my son, Sam. From the moment he could eat baby food he would not eat anything but applesauce and then as he progressed to solids it was only French fries and chicken nuggets. He had never eaten any vegetables except for fried okra and lived off of chocolate milk. I discussed this with his doctor and he told me not to worry, that as he got older that this would change. He also said this is a common problem among young children. Well, he was right. Sam is about to turn 5 and he eats every 5 minutes. He now eats apples and bananas and a few vegetables and loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He is coming around. Hang in there!!!!


It would be a mistake to force your child into eating food that he isn’t interested in at the moment… it would only result in a power struggle. Offer your son a variety of foods and when he is hungry he will eat. Children often “self-regulate” their diets, somehow they know when they need milk or veggies… he’ll change his habits soon enough – as long as you don’t push him. He is testing you… give him a vitamin and some nuggets!!! Relax – it’ll be okay!


I had the same problem many years ago with my son. I finally learned that I had to make eating fun. Say we were having chicken, stuffing, squash or another vegetable, and mashed potatoes. I used a banana split dish. I put the bite sized chicken pieces at the bottom of the dish. I then made a scoop of stuffing, a scoop of mashed potato, and a scoop of vegetable (Just like a banana split) I put cranberry sauce along each side over the chicken, and over one scoop and gravy over the other two scoops. Use colorful glasses or cups and always make your table settings fun. Use small pumpkins for stews etc. People think they should only decorate for parties, etc. Kids love meal time to be fun all the time. Make him meatloaf type patties with vegetables cooked into it, Put smiley or funny faces on pancakes with whipped cream. Get the picture? It worked for me. To this day my son still loves a festive table and his kids are enjoying their fun meals. Kathi


I think it is a mistake to give in to kids or fight with them about eating. Your job is to make sure they have nutritious food to eat, their job is to eat it. If they don’t want to eat, don’t force them… when they get hungry they’ll eat. Don’t give them snacks between meals. If they don’t eat lunch, nothing till dinner. It doesn’t take long if you stick to your guns. As long as you bow to the pressure he will continue to force you to make special meals. If he wins this battle of wills, what lesson will he have learned about the next thing he wants or doesn’t want? Dad of four.


Hi Lane! I know exactly how you feel! My son is also 2 1/2 and is doing the same thing. He doesn’t like any vegetables at all and really doesn’t like very many fruits either. What I have been doing is giving him applesauce, sliced apples with peanut butter or carmel, jello with fruit in it and he really likes ranch dressing, so sometimes I can sneak in some carrot sticks or celery, but not real often! LOL 😉 If he likes soup, you can puree some cooked vegetables, like carrots or peas, and mix them into the soup. make fun food like mashed potatoes and gravy, call them mountains with lava. There are a bunch of other ideas but I won’t hog up all the space. 🙂 Good luck!

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