Q My son is four and he just won't eat anything that isn't white. So bread, pasta, chips and the like are all devoured, whereas trying to get him to eat a pea could lead to all out war. How can I get him to vary his diet? I worry that he just won't get the right nutrition.
David replies: It is easy to see how you could be worried that he doesn't have enough balance in his diet. Chatting with a dietitian might help to reassure you about what your son actually needs nutritionally. Picky eating, however, is very common at his age.
There is a real danger in trying to force him to eat a broader range of foods, since that will precipitate conflict (the "all out war" you describe) which may, in fact, just entrench his reluctance to eat certain foods. If this happens, the dynamic between you and him, around food and eating, could become very negative leading to a longer-term food issue that is about power and control and not even about food.
Assuming he is relatively healthy, and that any nutritional deficit can be supplemented, I think you may be wiser to back off entirely about food. That would involve ensuring he is part of the social fabric of mealtimes, but actually focusing very little on the food that gets eaten. Having a relaxed, easy, atmosphere at the table, where he can see that you enjoy variety (you can model healthy eating and enjoyment of food) might encourage him to get braver in trying new things when he is ready.