The Salty Truth: Fussy Eaters, Taste, and Parental Concerns

fussy eaters and salt 31
fussy eaters and salt

When it comes to feeding fussy eaters, parents face numerous challenges. From temperamental taste buds to battles at the dinner table, the journey of introducing new flavours and healthy eating habits can be a rollercoaster ride. Recently, I was quoted in in an insightful article in The Age Newspaper, titled “The Tasty and Abundant Food Additive That’s Killing Australians.” This article delves into the concerns surrounding salt and its impact on health, especially among fussy eaters. While there is growing awareness about reducing salt intake, it is essential to strike a balance, especially when dealing with fussy eaters. The last thing we need as parents is more fear in how we feed our children.

1. Salt: A Palatability Enhancer for Fussy Eaters

As parents, one of our primary goals is to ensure that our children are well-nourished and enjoy their meals. This often leads to the question: Is salt a villain or a hero when it comes to fussy eaters? The article emphasises the overconsumption of salt in our diets, which is indeed a matter of concern. However, when it comes to children with particular strong fussy eating difficulties, salt might just be the hero we need.

Salt has a magical way of enhancing the palatability of food. It can transform bland dishes into tasty delights, making them more appealing to the discerning taste buds of fussy eaters. When children are hesitant to try new foods or are simply not consuming enough, a pinch of salt can be a valuable tool in a parent’s arsenal. After all, we cook to make food more palatable, and salt is one of the essential ingredients in achieving this goal.

2. Picking Your Battles

Parents of fussy eaters often find themselves in a daily struggle to ensure their children get the nutrients they need. In such cases, it is essential to pick your battles wisely. Imagine a scenario where a child eats only small amounts of food but adds a dash of salt to make it more enjoyable. Is it better to engage in a battle over this tiny addition, or is it wiser to let them have their way?

In the grand scheme of things, allowing children to add a touch of salt to their meals might be a reasonable compromise. Ensuring that they eat a good amount, even if it means a bit of extra salt, can be a step towards a balanced diet. Over time, as their taste buds mature and they become more open to different flavours, they can learn to reduce their salt intake. I will confess at this stage that, as a child, my parents called me “the goat” for my liking of salt.

3. Cooking with Control

In the quest to reduce salt intake, parents can take matters into their own hands by cooking at home. When you prepare meals from scratch, you have more control over the ingredients and their quantities. Here are some tips to make food more palatable without overloading on salt:

  • Pair flavours: Experiment with flavour combinations to make dishes more appealing. Use ingredients like caramelisation, vanilla, cinnamon, or other flavours that your child likes. These can enhance the taste without excessive salt.

  • Cheese, a salty Alternative: You can use cheese in cooking without the need for additional salt. Be mindful of the type of cheese you use, choosing options with lower sodium content (under 500-600mg per 100g).

  • Rinsing and Choosing Wisely: Some ingredients, like haloumi cheese or bacon, can be rinsed lightly to reduce their salt content. Additionally, opt for bread and cheese varieties with lower salt levels.


In the world of parenting, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. The journey of introducing a balanced diet to children, especially fussy eaters, can be challenging. The recent concerns over salt intake, as highlighted in the article from The Age, remind us of the importance of moderation.

As parents, our primary goal is to ensure that our children develop healthy eating habits and enjoy their meals. While reducing salt intake is crucial for their long-term health, a pinch of salt can sometimes be a useful tool to make food more palatable, especially for fussy eaters. The key is to strike a balance, pick your battles wisely, and take control of what goes into your family’s meals. As children learn to enjoy a variety of flavours, they can also learn to reduce their salt intake as they grow older. After all, it is not a secret that many children have a natural affinity for salt, and it can be used to our advantage in fostering a love for diverse, nutritious foods.

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