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Conquering the Fussy Eater – Guest Post – Taryn Gunn

This week we have Taryn Gunn, a mother and pastry chef from Johannesburg South Africa. You can visit her blog at Tea Eats. Taryn writes about what we all love – FOOD. You have to check out her Lunchbox Pintables for Kids.

I have a beautiful 5 year old daughter who is so full of life and spunk and energy. She excels in (almost) everything she does, as does any 5 year old, as she puts her all into every challenge. I can say this is true for almost everything except when it comes to eating healthy food. When I dish up a plate of healthy food she would rather go hungry than give it a try most times. I wouldn’t say she is sensory sensitive, and her educational psychologist agrees with me. She is just good ol’ plain fussy. I am sure she ranks somewhere on the top of the list of the worlds top fussy eaters!

I have decided to try hide that what I am giving her is healthy. I have conjoured up recipes that look and taste delicious and she doesn’t know that they are healthy. Muffins and ice lollies, cakes and milkshakes all with super healthy ingredients that are well hidden and perfect for little fussy eaters have come out of my kitchen. Perhaps this may seem like deception, and I guess it is. I will tell her one day when she is old enough to hear it and old enough to choose wisely for herself. Until then – if I left it up to her, she would have a diet of white bread, candy and ice-cream.

Some tips I have for getting your fussy eaters to eat their healthy plate of food:

  • Plate presentation -Some kids like their plates to be presented in beautiful (and what can be complicated for mommy) pictures. My daughter doesn’t fall for this trick. However if I serve her food on a plate with divisions and the different elements don’t touch each other, I have a greater chance at feeding her successfully. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest on fancy plate presentation for children. Here are just a few that I liked:
Via The Art Nutrition
Via The Art Nutrition
Via Tiny Me
Via Tiny Me
Via Kix Cereal
Via Kix Cereal
Via Petitphant
Via Petitphant
  • For fussy eaters, hide the taste of the vegetables with other yummy yet healthy ingredients, like raw honey, nuts if your child doesn’t have a nut allergy, xylitol which is a plant based sweetener, and even mashed up bananas. I have made many muffins, even chocolate muffins as the cocoa powder in itself is not unhealthy. I blitz together raw oats and nutty wheat flour. If your budget allows, you can replace the nutty wheat with almond or coconut flour. Then use this as your flour base for the muffins. The nutty wheat has a very neutral taste, whereas almond and coconut flours taste like, well almonds and coconut, and if your child doesn’t like these flavors as they can be a bit strong, then stick with the nutty wheat flour.  I then add in whatever fruit and veg I have in my kitchen at the time. I have added bananas, carrots, sweet potato, spinach (although this adds color which might seem fishy to your fussy eater), beetroot, strawberries, blueberries. Sometimes, I even add tea – I like to add either rooibos tea which is a favorite in South Africa and so full of antioxidants, or I add matcha tea which has many health benefits that you can read about here. All these healthy flavors that your child might not like, can be easily hidden in a cake or muffin with the added raw honey (and I emphasize raw!), xylitol or mashed banana. Here are 2 muffin recipes I have made that my kids loved. Click on the images for the recipes:
Lemon and Matcha Tea Mufffins
Lemon and Matcha Tea Mufffins
Orange and Carrot Muffins
Orange and Carrot Muffins

Slowly introduce new things to the fussy eaters diet. At the beginning of this year my daughter was a vegetarian. Not because of any other reason than she just didn’t like meat. I figured out this year that she doesn’t like her food to have strong flavors, so when I make her meat, I only add salt and a small sprinkle of pepper. She now loves steak. And slowly I have added a little bit more salt and pepper. The other night I had a real win with her. She gulped down her food and commented on how yummy it was. It was steak, with crushed potatoes and peas – all very separated on her plate. She loved it. With my potatoes, I have come up with a recipe that has a subtle flavor that Husby and I love and she doesn’t seem to notice. When I boil my potatoes, I add lemongrass, star anise and bay leaves to the water. I call them crushed potatoes because I don’t peel my potatoes for that added fibre and so mashing them doesn’t result in an ultra smooth mash. When I do mash them, I take the lemongrass, star anise and bay leaves out so there is no evidence. I then add whole butter and full cream milk and some salt to taste. She loves it! By figuring out my child’s sense for taste and slowly introducing one food item at a time, I managed to get my daughter to eat a full plate of food – which is very unusual. Watch your fussy eater, what flavors are they drawn to? And even if it is a sacrifice for you, try change the whole family’s meal to suit her tastes so she doesn’t feel left out. And then slowly, over months, start adding ingredients and flavors to broaden her taste spectrum. Slowly start adding new food to her plate to increase the variety and nutrients she eats. It is a slow process, and it is a sacrifice for you as parents and even siblings. But it is all worthwhile in the end.

Chin up mommy! She won’t be 5 forever! And you will miss these days! I hope that I have offered some useful tips and tricks to help you feed your fussy eaters.

Yours Truly

Taryn Gunn

Blogger @

Taryn’s Tweet – @Taryn_Gunn

076 838 1418

PO Box 1104, Glenvista, 2058

personal food journey blog(3)

With Love

One Messy Mama


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  • Topfivemum

    It’s so good to see there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve got a two year old fussy eater and I’m trying everything to get her to eat anything but the same food. I always disguise stuff and sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. I’m now about to start weaning her little brother and I’m dreading it as mealtimes have been full of anxiety for me (which I don’t want to pass onto them). In the past, I used to offer an alternative when she didn’t eat something (major mistake I know, but when you know they are going to have meltdowns from lack of food, you try anything). I no longer do this. What I find is working is slowing introducing new tastes and textures. So I’ll still include a serving of pasta for example. But a smaller one than usual (not enough to fill her up on) so she has to attempt the rest. So far, she’s still leaving the rest. And going hungry. it’s only been a few days but I figure she has to eat something at some point right? I’m intrigued about Taryn’s mention of sensory sensitivity. I’ve never considered this for my daughter so will do a bit of research to see if there’s a link for us. Thanks for sharing! #KCACOLS

    • Taryn Gunn

      Its a good idea to get her checked for any sensory sensitivity. This will help you in a great way. Texture is a huge thing when it comes to eating and she may only like certain textures. If its not a sensory sensitivity, what we tried that also worked was if she doesn’t finish her dinner, no problem, but there is nothing else to eat until breakfast. If she doesn’t finish her breakfast, no problem but there is nothing else to eat until lunch and so on. Eventually she was hungry enough to try my food, then slowly start enjoying it as I made changes to the way I cook as detailed in the post. Its a slow and painful process and I totally feel you right now! My daughter will be 6 in January and it has been many years of this. But I can say that there definitely is light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep at it. Good luck mama!

  • Mummy TamTam

    Thank you for these tips! I also have a fussy eater, she is 2.7 years old. She loves to try new things at the nursery but will refuse almost everything I will give her at home, except pasta. Sometimes I get so frustrated not knowing what to do. I guess I must not propose her alternative when she refuses her food but it is so hard 🙁 I #KCACOLS

  • Random Musings

    These are great tips. I especially like the one about adapting food to make it more palatable to fussy eaters – it is so much more likely to get results than just trying to force things on children.
    I have to say though, if I made a plate like those Pinterest examples, no one would be touching it lol!
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

  • The Speed Bump

    So many great ideas there, thanks for sharing such a helpful post! My daughter literally eats EVERYTHING… when she feels like it! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday!

  • The Mum Project

    I love the plate presentation, especially the one in the strawberry! : ) SO CUTE. Amazing tips and tricks for fussy eaters, I’m hoping my son will not be one but who knows, if he is I will definitely be using the honey trick and presentation, it looks really fun haha! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

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