My 4-year-old son basically will not eat anything other than things that are entirely made of starch or sugars. Anything involving any kind of meat or vegetable is immediately and completely rejected. This has been going on for about 2 years. The doctor said it is "fine" but I really don't see how it is normal or healthy to live off of such a limited diet consisting of foods with very little nutritional value. He is pretty normal with everything else, though.

I have never denied meals to my child but I have tried making only healthy meals where it is not possible to pick apart only the "junky" or starchy parts and avoid everything else and he will literally starve himself for 3 days and completely refuse to eat whatsoever. He will then go into a "zombie" state and I swear this child will let himself die because he will still absolutely refuse to eat anything until I allow him to eat something he likes. I don't want to continue this because it clearly is not healthy but neither is living completely off of starches. I have tried blending it into food, disguising it other ways etc. but absolutely nothing works.

What else can I try here?

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    How long has this been going on? Have you spoken to the child's doctor about this? What did they advise? Does he have similar idiosyncracies with, say, clothing? Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 17:30
  • It has been going on for about 2 years, the doctor said it is "fine" but I really don't see how it is normal or healthy to live off of such a limited diet consisting of foods with very little nutritional value. No he is pretty normal with everything else. Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 17:35

4 Answers 4


I don't have a good answer for you (and that's a bad way to start an answer!) but I do have some advice.

Your son's diet is not ideal. But if he is growing normally, reaching milestones normally, and physically active, etc., then he is healthy enough in spite of his diet. Kids need protein to grow (read about kwashiorkor. He's obviously getting some.

Eggs are a great source of protein that can be baked into starchy goods (e.g. pancakes and muffins). Also, look for starches that have a higher amount of protein in them. Milk is also an important source of protein that can be easily made attractive in baked goods or by adding a syrup to.

It's not ideal by a long shot, but if your child would rather starve than eat well, you have little choice.

If your doctor can't convince you that your son is healthy, please seek a second opinion. Ask about adding vitamins, and a consult with a nutritionist good at working with picky eaters.


Please ask your doctor/nutritionist to prescribe a safe vitamin/mineral supplement. This can be given till your child starts eating proper food even if he's healthy in terms of height/weight.

You have mentioned that he refuses to eat even when it's blended in. But maybe you are adding the veggies /meat which changes the taste completely. For example, for a kid who likes mac/cheese with tomato sauce, you can boil and puree half a carrot or potato and add it without any significant change in color or flavor. But if you blend in spinach or broccoli, it's very much visible. So taste it first and check if it's different from what he's used to. Don't add too much of puree initially. Start with a small quantity and increase if he likes it. You'll have to experiment.

Try to make something different with veggies/meat (Add more spices/ color and make sure it smells good). Eat this at dinner table and comment to others that it's so tasty. Don't give it to him unless he's curious and requests for a bite.

Try sweetening him up. Like if you eat this small bowl of vegetables everyday, you'll get this treat in the weekend or you'll have an additional 10 mins of cartoon time or something like that ? I know it's not ideal but at his age, there's only so much you can do.

Consult a specialist for their opinion if nothing else works.


One thing my we've tried that has helped is not allowing the kids to have snacks in between meals. After mealtime, we "close the kitchen". If they didn't eat much during breakfast time, they were hungry at lunch time and gobbled down whatever we fed them. I wouldn't prohibit junk food completely, there are studies that have shown this could have the opposite effect. See this article.

As far as nutrition goes... cow's milk is a good way to supplement protein and vitamins your child may be lacking.

Overall, I wouldn't be too concerned. From what I've observed, children's eating habits change frequently. Continue to encourage healthy eating, your child will get there. Also, kids love apple sauce packets.

  • "cow's milk is a good way to supplement protein and vitamins your child may be lacking" of course you mean raw milk, because pasteurized does not have those Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 11:19

Put a bite of everything on their plate. Just one. They can't have seconds on anything until they clean their plate. Be ready for a tough battle the first few times. Gradually increase the serving of all three. If he says no, then let him be hungry. Won't hurt him for a few days.

I used to run canoe expeditions with teens in the Canadian north.

I swear that I could serve horse road apples, with a cow meadow muffin sauce and they would ask for seconds.

There is nothing like a bit of hunger to reduce how choosy people are.

On occasion, I'd get a complaint. "You're welcome to go to the restaurant across the river." I'd reply. They knew that the nearest retaurant was a week's paddle -- upstream -- away.

(Our food wasn't exciting. We had lots of pasta, rice, hot cereal, granola, cheese, beans. I used dried soups a lot, and had a bread bag full of different spices.)

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