“No, I don’t like that”! – 10 Tips for Fussy Eaters

by | 22.06.2023 | Stories

“No, I don’t like that”! – 10 Tips for Fussy Eaters

In childhood, there are three central elements that play an important role in the energy balance and development of our children: sufficient sleep, enough exercise and a healthy diet. If these points are neglected in everyday life, this can quickly have an impact on the mental and physical health of our little ones and subsequently on sleep again – a small vicious circle. Many parents despair on a daily basis because their little ones vehemently reject any healthy food such as fruits or vegetables, preferring gummy bears and chocolate instead. In addition, there are opinions of grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles or friends who are afraid for the well-being of your little ones, that they always eat enough and why he or she is so sensitive. Your child is also not a good eater and you don’t know what to do? We would be happy to talk to you about a few tips that you can use to make healthy food palatable to your kids.

In order to be able to explain healthy nutrition in a child-friendly way and to be able to implement it later, it is first of all important to know which diet is recommended for a child by experts. Even though it is easier to give children only the food they like, too much sugar and an unbalanced diet are not good for the little bodies. The wrong nutrients provide hardly any energy and can even have the opposite effect: tiredness and listlessness are the result, and thus too little joy in exercise and fresh air.

What foods are recommended for children?

To this end, we will briefly take a closer look at the recommendation of the Austrian Health InsuranceFund 1 based on the food pyramid that is well known to us. We’ve all heard of this one, but can we remember the details? What is important to know in advance: a portion is as big as a child’s fist.

  • Drink at least 1.5 liters a day – preferably water, teas and fruit juices with plenty of water – sodas and sugar drinks should be reduced to a minimum.
  • 5 servings of vitamins a day – these are important for strengthening the immune system and promoting the ability to learn. These are mainly found in fruit and vegetables.
  • 4 servings of rice, potatoes, pasta and bread a day – these meals provide energy and performance. In the case of pasta, whole grain products also contain more vitamins and minerals than products made from wheat flour. The former therefore keeps the body full and active for longer, while the latter tends to make you tired.
  • To strengthen teeth and bones , the body needs calcium. This is found in dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and curd cheese. A little tip: Instead of buying a ready-made fruit yogurt, it is better to add fresh fruit to a plain yogurt and thus reduce the sugar content of the meal.
  • Meat, sausage, fish and eggs should not be consumed too much, variety is required here! Instead of a sausage sandwich, you can also take a bread with spread or jam.

Get out into the fresh air!

For the health and physical development of our children, exercise and sufficient fresh air are important in addition to nutrition! However, this does not mean that you have to climb mountains or go on bike rides every day: playing, romping, jumping, running, splashing around in the garden, a relaxing walk with the family or, if it is safe to do so, walking to kindergarten or school, is already perfectly sufficient for a developing child.

According to a study by the WHO2 , 72% of boys and 86% of girls in Austria are not physically active enough. One hour of exercise a day would be sufficient for children’s health, as the WHO also recommends. In addition, screen time, and thus also the time spent sitting, should be limited or at least compensated by sufficient activity. You can also read more about screen time tips in our blog article on media use for children .

But now we come to the actual topic:

Our 10 tips for fussy children from parents and experts:

  1. Turns eating into a small family ritual. Eating together is more fun and the little ones then learn some behaviors from their parents. Take enough time for this and be patient with the kids. Consciously incorporate it into rituals such as setting the table.
  2. In any case, do without your mobile phone, newspaper or TV during the meal and dedicate your time to your family, listen to each other and talk about your day.
  3. Think together with the child about what they could eat and also take into account their wishes. Go shopping together consciously and let them help with the cooking. Children are curious and also like to try home-cooked food.
  4. Children should learn for themselves when they are full. Toddlers in particular are often unable to estimate this and are therefore dependent on the help of their parents.
  5. Food should not be a reward or a punishment for children, otherwise the children will get a wrong relationship with food.
  6. Your child doesn’t like fruit? Depending on what your child likes, for example, fruit could be mixed in here, for example desserts with small pieces of fruit, fruit with yoghurt or buttermilk, fruit puree/compote, freshly squeezed juices or smoothies.
  7. Vegetables can be prepared with delicious dips that your little ones like or eaten in small pieces. A vegetable cream soup or another food where the vegetables are grated into small pieces are also wonderful options. Maybe your child prefers the vegetables raw instead of cooked or vice versa? Find out!
  8. Do not prohibit sweets, but let them be enjoyed in moderation. For example, define clear rules, such as just one candy a day. Sweets should also not be added to snacks or consumed before eating, otherwise there will be no more room in the stomach for the important nutrients.
  9. Don’t force your child to do anything and don’t put too much pressure on the little ones. Let them try it piece by piece and discover new things on their own. Too much pressure often associates a negative feeling with food and causes exactly the opposite of what we want.
  10. Children also like to take their parents as an example and learn from their eating habits, so be good role models in this regard.

Are you worried that your child is underweight or malnourished due to the wrong or too unbalanced diet or too little nutrition? Seek advice from your family doctor and check the children’s values. An unhealthy diet does not automatically mean that the child is not feeling well. A long-term study by Stanford University has shown that children often get exactly the nutrients they need on their own. Many children did not show any deficiency symptoms due to their fussiness, despite a less or different diet.

Finally, it should be mentioned that in the topic of nutrition with children, one should not focus too much on the given guideline values. The above points are only recommendations, not obligations. At the end of the day, every child has different needs and eats different amounts, so there are no exact numbers here either. Also, the eating behavior of children should not be compared with that of adults, for children it is advisable to eat more often in smaller portions, not like adults only 3 meals a day.

We hope that we were able to help you and your little gourmets with these tips and create a little more clarity on the topic. Feel free to tell us about your experiences or tips so that we parents can learn from each other!

With that in mind, let’s go to the test phase and enjoy it!

Your family paradise Sporthotel Achensee


1 Austrian Health Insurance Fund (o.A.): Recommendations for children. URL: https://www.gesundheitskasse.at/cdscontent/load?contentid=10008.688434&version=1576504594 [August 14, 2022].
2 Kurier (22.11.2019): WHO study: Young people are not sedentary. URL: https://kurier.at/gesund/who-studie-jugendliche-bewegen-sich-zu-wenig/400682642 [August 14, 2022].