Stick To Your Guns — They Won’t Starve

One of the most reoccurring things I hear parents say when discussing their kids and trying to get them to eat real, human foods is — “I have a stubborn child. If they don’t like the dinner I make, they will literally sit there and not eat until they starve to death.”

No. They won’t.

If someone can find some news article or research study that I’m not aware of that shows a healthy child provided with real, human food literally holding out on a starvation protest until they die — then I will eat my words (haha pun intended).

But until I see that for myself, I am going to keep believing that a truly hungry child will eventually eat human food if given enough opportunities. My daughters do it, too. They scoff at food on the table and won’t eat. Well that’s fine, girls. You can either have it for a snack later or eat some other type of real, human food that requires no preparation like fruit or nuts or something because chicken nuggets aren’t an option.

Do an internet search for “kids + starvation” and take a look at what real starvation looks like. Be careful if you actually do that because the images are a horrifying slice of reality.

You think any of the kids in those images would pass up broccoli and grilled chicken breast because they didn’t like how it tasted?

No. They would punch any of our obstinate kids in the face, eat the broccoli and chicken in three bites, lick the plate, eat part of the plate, then ask for seconds, please.

But what ends up happening is that a tired mom or dad is all out of patience. Their child is refusing to eat. The parents don’t want to put up with it, so they pull out the Hamburger Helper or mac and cheese to end the protest and get on with their lives.

Hey. I get that. I get being at the point where you are flipping through the phone book in the “Selling Your Child” section. I’ve been there.

Raising kids can be frustrating. No — raising kids IS frustrating a lot of the time.

But don’t give up. If you really want your kids to eat real, human food, give them a chance to adapt. Stick it out with them armed with the knowledge that they will be better off in the long term.

Put real, human food in front of them 90% of the time and watch them transform into little humans that will eat a variety of colorful and nutritious foods. The other 10% can be spent on holidays, birthday parties, and Grandma and Grandpa time.

Trust me. They won’t starve.

Be sure to follow Mark’s work over at his amazing blog Simply Human Lifestyle and listen to his podcast!!!


  1. CocoPlum says

    Amen! I used to be a nutitionist and specialized in childhood nutrition. I must have said this 1,000 times a day. Parents only job is to provide healthy good options. Kids won’t starve themselves – maybe skip a few meals but it won’t last long. Thanks for posting this.

  2. says

    Hey Mark!

    Awesome article! I am not a parent (yet) and cannot image the difficulty of getting kids to eat real food- especially after they are used/addicted to processed foods.

    So it’s hard for me to have this conversation with friends/clients. I think I’ll bookmark this article to pass along when appropriate.



  3. Maria says

    I definitely agree. I have a just turned 3 year old and we struggle with dinner and lately with veggies, which makes me so bummed, because he used to be great. But, we let him know that this is what he is getting to eat. A lot of times he walks away and says he isn’t hungry, but he always comes back and eats. Sometimes an hour later, sometimes two. We just put it in the fridge until he is hungry and then he devours it. I do feel guilty, because I know he is hungry, but there is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing your child ate their veggies and healthy protein!

  4. Laurie Baumgartner says

    Great article! Thanks so much for reminding me I’m not crazy……..or mean. It’s one thing to put up with the whining and complaining from the kids. But sticking to your guns when all other family and friends see no problem with typical American processed foods and think you’re crazy for putting a piece of chicken and some broccoli on their plates adds another whole dynamic. Thanks for the words of encouragement!!

  5. Brittany says

    I totally agree. It is hard and my kids thought I was mean for not giving them the food they were used to. But day after day I just told this is what we have eat it or not. They have learned and get better over time.

  6. M, MD says

    Kudos to you for writing this. As a Pediatrician I must have this conversation with families 5-10 times a day. I’d love to link in to this from our office website (and wallpaper my walls with it 😉 )!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *