By Claire Potter, author and adviser on children’s fussy eating

When I look back at my own childhood, I remember family mealtimes with a heavy heart. My little brother and sister were incredibly fussy eaters and there was tension, battles and tears at the table almost every day.

So even before my first baby had left my body, I was determined my own children wouldn’t be fussy eaters. I wanted my family dinner table to be a happy, relaxed place where food and eating were only ever a positive thing. So I had a really big think… and formed a plan!

I put it into place from the moment I weaned my first child and just kept going. It worked! I have a son, now 24, who has always eaten absolutely everything – except raw tomatoes. And a daughter, now 17, who is happy with whatever comes her way – but never touches beetroot. I’ll take that!

Did I just get lucky, I wondered? I didn’t think so. After all, one child was adopted, one home-made. One easy-going, one bloody-minded. But as an author, I really wanted to know if I was onto something that was worth sharing with other parents in a book.

So I consulted and collaborated with a leading NHS paediatric dietitian who worked with extreme fussy eaters and their parents. We discussed my approach in detail to rigorously test it against her expertise, experience and the research. Finally, it was boiled down into one quick and easy book for parents called Getting the Little Blighters to Eat that can be read in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea or two!

Since then, I have worked directly with numerous families, advising parents in a crystal-clear and practical way how to remove the stress from mealtimes and expand their children’s diet: What if they run a mile from all vegetables? What if they say they don’t like something before they’ve even tried it? And what if they don’t touch their tea but then say they’re hungry 10 minutes later?

When friends ask me how the approach works, I sometimes joke that it involves rigging up the table with a system of electric shocks! In reality, the approach is very human, non-punitive and non-confrontational. It’s not about making children unfussy. It’s about creating a dynamic around food and mealtimes that promotes a positive, open-minded and curious attitude to food: a dynamic that allows a child’s own desire to explore, eat and enjoy a wide variety of food to emerge.

Claire is running a one-day workshop for parents of fussy eaters on Saturday 23 September. There are 8 places and the cost is £35 (subsidised by Food Futures). To book or find out more, email Claire at:

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