We asked our Parents Talk blogger panel this week:
Lisa Barton-Collins - Mrs BC’s House of Chaos
There are five people in our family, and all of them have very different eating habits. The littlest one is super fussy, which has been a challenge, but I’ve had some success with meeting that challenge in a variety of ways.
Firstly, most nights I plate everything separately and put it on the table so that everyone can help themselves – this takes the pressure off Mr Fussy as he doesn’t feel forced to eat everything on his plate.
Secondly, the dinner buffet will have a few Mr Fussy friendly options, to ensure he doesn’t starve (which he would happily do rather than eat something he didn’t like). So, if there is a spicy Thai pasta salad on the table, there will also be a bowl of plain pasta for him to choose.
Thirdly, we have this rule in our house – If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it, but you must try it. This has worked really well in encouraging all our children to eat a varied diet, and they sometimes surprise themselves with the things they like. The thing that has the biggest impact on making Mr Fussy less fussy is that most nights we try to eat around the table as a family. He sees everyone else enjoying different foods and wants a piece of that action himself.
So, after all this, is Mr Fussy still a fussy eater? Oh hell yes! If I put sweet chilli sauce on his lunch time sandwich he would report me to the principal! I’m happy with the knowledge he might try it on a spring roll later at home though. We live in hope.
Sometimes I call my children (6 yrs and 4.5 yrs old) fantastic eaters, other times I call them fussy eaters, simply because they devour meals and foods that are familiar to them and then reject new meals.
This can be frustrating for us adults as we know that trying new foods is exciting, but for younger children they don’t share that same excitement and this is why we categorise them as being fussy, when really they are going – “hold on a minute there Mum I don’t know what this is, I have never seen it before, why should I eat it?”
For younger children, familiarity and routine is key to keeping them happy and comfortable in their environment, so when we place a meal in front of them that they have never seen before they are thrown for a sixer and don’t know what they are meant to do.
To help overcome this I encourage my children to smell them, lick them or have a nibble.
I repeat this process and gradually but surely we continue to make positive associations with the dreaded 'green' foods and so on.