Do you have a diddy dictator in your kitchen? If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to a survey by the baby food brand Organix, just under 50 per cent of Britain’s parents say their toddler is a fussy eater. To which I say: only half? Really?

It’s now been over six months since I decided to attempt a stealthy phasing out of rubbishy food and the sneaky phasing in of simple, healthy, sugar free meals for my whole family, kids included. It’s been, erm… a ‘journey’. A bumpy, messy and occasionally tantrumy one. It seemed a shame not to celebrate that milestone, and so I decided to invite fussy eating guru Lucy Thomas over for tea.

Lucy has spent well over a decade working one-on-one with some of the fussiest young eaters in the UK. She knows better than anyone how to make a carrot cool. So over some spinach sauce (no, really) she shared her top 10 tips for turning veg-phobics into veg-fiends…

How to Banish Fussy Eating

1. Never ask your child to ‘eat’, ‘try’, or ‘taste’ anything… Instead, engage them by asking them to ‘smell’, ‘kiss’ or ‘lick’ it. This will encourage them to explore and taste on a simple level. After a few days, they might be willing to make some teeth marks in it, or take a tiny mouse nibble.

2. Explore food in new environments, away from the table… A picnic, the supermarket trolley, the garden or even the bath are great places to spark your toddler’s interest in something they haven’t eating before.

3. Play while you eat… Mealtimes are sometimes viewed by children as an inconvenience, interrupting their games. Build a Lego tower as you explore your food, kiss a carrot every time you kick a football, or lick a lemon while doing a dance.

4. Make comparisons… Explaining that a food is ‘like’ something they already enjoy is a good way to introduce it – dates, for example, are ‘a bit like raisins.

5. Close your eyes… Offering to do this while your child licks or nibbles a new food reduces the pressure on them (you can always steal a sneaky peak).

6. Create a chart… Record the new foods you explore together and offer stickers for any new ones, even if they are just smelled or kissed.

7. Lead by example… Choose a food you find challenging and enlist your child to help you explore it.

8. Never bribe, or threaten to refuse pudding… This can build negative associations with food. Just make sure pudding in nutritious and serve it either whether the main is eaten or not.

9. Look at food intake over the week… Your child may not have eaten well today, but over the course of the week even fussy children will self regulate if they are given plenty of choice and variety.

10. Introduce new foods at snack time, not mealtimes. There is less pressure on both of you if these are explored at elevenses or straight after school.

You can follow Hattie Garlick’s year-long challenge to feed her family healthily on Instagram and read more about her session with Lucy in The Telegraph or find out more about Lucy’s work here and here.

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