Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fussy fusspots and other eating tales

My four children range from 'I will eat anything' to 'I am a fussy fusspot'. I try to cater to individual tastes and patterns as much as possible, but dinner time is often a battle ground in our house.

We have many strategies for improving eating outcomes with our fussier eaters and I want to share some of them here.

Try something new day
On a random day of the week, I cook something totally new with ingredients in it that I know the kids are either not familiar with or not enamoured with. I proclaim that it is Try something new day and everyone has to give it a shot. Most of the time it works to at least get them to try the food.

Kids get to choose what's for dinner
Once a month, on the kids' birthday day, they get to pick the dinner. It has to be something that I cook (not take away) and it has to be something that they can help me make. We get a whole lot of requests for fish 'n' chips, but Doo Dah always picks something more interesting.

At least two vegies
I always serve up three or four vegies with meals, and the kids are encouraged to eat ALL of them but they have to choose at least two. Most days I have at least two I know they will eat, but every now and then they have to choose at least one that they don't love as much. I have managed to increase their repertoire to include lettuce, baby spinach leaves, snow peas and beans with this method alone!

Substitute and hide
Once the kids have established that they 'like' a meal e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, I continue to cook it but refine the recipe to make it healthier e.g. substituting brown pasta for white, hiding grated vegetables. I know I have gone too far when it is no longer eaten nor requested!

Dessert Night
We don't have dessert every night but try to have it on Wednesdays and Sundays. Absolutely everything must be eaten to be able to have the 'ice cream' component of dessert night. The same concept works for eating cereal before moving to toast.

Whole of week approach
The kids are up and down with eating day to day. Some days I hit the jackpot and they eat a lot, on other days, not so much. I try to take a whole of week approach with them, which means in the 'bad' weeks I push a bit more and in the 'good' weeks, I let them slide if they hit a snag. It is just too dull to fight every day don't you find?

How do you get your kids to eat their dinner?


Emily said...

I like your approach. The two vegies in particular is a great idea!

No great tips from me - just the old 'two more bites' approach which still tends to work. After two more bites she seems to decide that dinner is delicious after all and will generally finish the meal after that! But I'm not for a moment believing this will work forever.

Diminishing Lucy said...

I have a nearly identical approach. LOVE the way you have explained it! xx

Mum on the Run said...

Great tips.
I'm a big advocate of at least trying a food before refusing it.
Magoo has slowly come around to this!!!
:-) xx

Kelly Exeter said...

Love your approach and have taken notes!!

The other thing I do is 'you just need to have one bite. If you hate it you can spit it out, but just one bite' ... this is of course for those situations where Mr 3 looks at something he's not tried before and turns up his nose!

I reckon I have a 50% success rate once he's had the first bite!

River said...

I don't remember how I got my kids to eat vegetables etc, all I know is that ate and now eat almost everything. With a few exceptions, the youngest absolutely cannot eat pumpkin, the feel of it in his mouth makes him vomit, #3 has the same deal with peas. kids 1 and 2 eat everything, always have.
I do remember there wasn't much snacking going on, so by dinner time they were all hungry and that helps a lot.

At Number 32 said...

Oh the old 'dinner debate'.....I'm sure you can hear me from your house! I find if we make at least 3 of the dinners I know they love in the week, then the others I have more of a chance at convincing them on.
Veggies has never been an issue here though, it's the protein element....any tips!!

Seana Smith said...

I have a mixed bag two, including one who can be hysterical when tired, actually both twins can. Tantrums can be thrown. My best tips are... get them to swim, they're starving afterwards... also I feed them chopped raw veggies when they are watching TV, a cheap trick but I'm desperate.

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