Got a fussy eater on your hands who is making dinner time feel a bit like a battle zone? No need to be filled with dinner-dread, we’ve got a few strategies to help you sail through your evening meal with your sanity intact.
Progress, not perfection
It’s completely normal for kids (and to be fair, adults) to change their minds as to which foods they like, and don’t like, from day to day. When it comes to kids, remember that they need repeated exposure to the same food around 10-15 times before you’ll really be able to tell whether they like it or not. A mouthful or two each day is progress and should be celebrated!
Put your best (looking) foot forward
Visual appeal can make a big difference when it comes to swaying a fussy eater. When you’re serving up dinner, make sure there’s a wide range of colours and textures included on the plate. Cooked and raw vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins are all part of this equation. Don’t be afraid to get creative – perhaps if you’re serving wholemeal or multigrain bread with your meal, it’s cut into special shapes that will capture the eye and imagination of your picky eater.
Land in the middle of the road
When it comes to wholegrains and picky eaters, an all-or-nothing approach rarely proves to be successful. Rather, if your kids are used to eating white bread, rice and pasta, or white potatoes, slowly start to introduce their wholegrain counterparts. This could mean serving up a mix of 50% white pasta and 50% wholemeal pasta with your spaghetti bolognaise. Perhaps your curry or stew is served with a blend of white and brown rice (if you’re feeling extravagant, perhaps you add quinoa to the mix as well!). Mashed or roasted potatoes – start to introduce some sweet potato into the mix for an interesting colour contrast. Over time, as these new foods start to become more readily recognised and accepted by your fussy eater, add them in more and more – gradually doing away with their refined flour and simple carbohydrate counterparts.
Persist, persist, persist
Rome wasn’t built in a day – and much the same, fussy eaters weren’t won over in one dinner time. Persistence is key. Trial different presentation, try the same food served raw and cooked, and encourage participation in the preparation of dinner. Consistently lead by example, by eating a wide and diverse range of foods, and your picky eater is sure to follow you lead. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!
Intended as general advice only. Consult your health care professional to discuss any specific concerns.