Toddler Nutrition: The Toddler Detox Program

Some time back I wrote a post about “zero calories versus empty calories“.  Unfortunately for us, we went the way of the empty calories in order to get Gavin to eat.  Particularly recently, that mistake has come back to haunt us.  Gavin has gone from eating certain favourite foods to only desiring junk food.  He stopped wanting to eat dinner and lunch – basically anything that consisted of proper food.  He would often claim to be “full” and ask for snacks after every meal.  The snacks he would want to eat are usually biscuits, chocolate and ice cream.

So I finally decided it was time for some drastic action…

After being a vegetarian for about three or so years, I noticed that I had lost the palate for a lot of unhealthy foods.   Food like KFC made me feel ill when I smelt it and even a lot of the sweets I used to crave lost their appeal.  I found that I loved the taste of vegetables because my taste buds were no longer spoiled by all those indulgence foods.  Even when I started to eat meat again, I found I could not tolerate eating too much meat or I would feel physically ill.

Based on my own experience, I figure that if we completely eliminate the junk food from Gavin’s diet and “refresh” his taste buds, he may rediscover a preference for healthy food again.  For that reason, I’ve put him on my personal toddler detox program.  I’ve dumped all his unhealthy snacks in the bin and only offer him healthy food options to take to school.  For instance, I now pack a tub of yoghurt, a slice of cheese, a muesli bar, some wholemeal sandwiches and a yoghurt drink.  The only concession I have kept is a small packet of Milo.

He no longer gets snacks between meals if it is too close to a main meal.  If there is time for a snack (when the next meal is still a long way off), it has to be something like wholemeal bread or fruit.  It is unfortunate that I must starve him or he will hold out and refuse to eat his main meals.  I find that he is more likely to eat “proper” food when he’s hungry.

This is day two of the detox program and we have seen some mild improvements in eating, although he still occasionally holds out with the hope of getting of having something sweet.  I guess it will take time for him to realise that there is no other food available except for the “healthy” options that are being offered to him.  It will also take time to reset his taste buds as well so we just need to be patient.

In the meantime, we are using the Pediasure formula to make up for any “missed” meals.  Instead of disguising the flavour with Milo like I used to, I now make it plain and offer it to Gavin with a “take it or leave it” attitude.  It was interesting to note that Gavin finishes it without complaint where previously he would get fussy about the taste.  I guess it goes to show that when a toddler is hungry, he does become less fussy about what he eats.  In Gavin’s case, he is still picky by a long shot, but at least it is slightly less picky.

Hopefully when Gareth arrives we will be more strict about enforcing the “no junk food” rule.  Perhaps we can then avoid this problem with Gareth altogether…


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Toddler Nutrition: The Toddler Detox Program

  1. Technically, yes. But not if it is too close to a main meal. I have occasionally found that if I give him a light snack too close to a main meal, it will be enough to sustain him past the main meal after which he’ll start looking for more snacks again.

    It is early days yet, so I guess he is still under the assumption that if he can get past the main meals, he can snack on junk food. Perhaps in time, he will come to realise that there is no more junk food forthcoming and that he either eats what he gets or he gets nothing.

    But yes, I do relent and offer him snacks as long as they are healthy options.


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