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First up, let me say that all the tactics in this feature will work on fussy adults just as well as they’ll work on fussy children.
Every child is different, and I promise you my mealtimes are far from perfect – it’s always total carnage and if we get through dinner without one of them crying, it’s a rare victory!
Their tastes, personalities and state of mind are ever changing, and my own belief is that I’m only ever 30 seconds away from anarchy. But, if you stick at it and use some of these strategies, you will win out in the end.
DON’T GIVE UP
It’s normal for kids to go through phases of liking and disliking things – however frustrating, it’s part of growing up. If something’s not a hit, perseverance and patience are key. Try three, 10, 20 times until you succeed. And try not to make a drama out of it. Removing the food without comment is the best way to go. Try again another day. Eventually they’ll crack, and if they don’t, perhaps they’ll never be a fan – and that’s OK.
REINFORCE GOOD HABITS
Try to come up with strategies to spark their interest, and reinforce and encourage positive eating habits over time. It’s incredibly important to get kids wanting to eat good stuff on their own, to embrace and be excited by new flavours, textures and ingredients, to grab their attention and inspire them to step outside their comfort zone and try new things.
BE A ROLE MODEL
Your children will copy and learn from you, so show them the way! Embrace a variety of foods at mealtimes – once they see you eating something, they’re far more likely to try it. And if you’re really stuck, a cheeky mouthful stolen from your plate, if they’re prepared to try something new, is only a good thing.
SET A ROUTINE
Establish a good routine as early as possible. We try to stick to three meals a day, with a snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon – that way, the kids know where they stand, feel relaxed and have a chance to build up a hunger. It also gives them a chance to look forward to their meals.
THE POWER OF PLANTS
Making it completely normal to chomp on veg and fruit is one of the most powerful things you can instill in any child. Use whatever tricks you can to get them on board. If it takes cutting things up with a crinkle-cut knife, making veggie ribbons with a speed-peeler, or giving something a funny name to get them to try it, do it!
If you can convince them that something is a treat by getting them to try it outside of mealtimes, that can be a smart tactic, too. I find that during that post-bath period when they don’t want to go to bed they’ll happily try a bit of raw asparagus or a broad bean if it means distracting Daddy from sending them to bed… I also always have a bowl of simple salad on the dinner table 10 minutes before I serve up – if they’re hungry enough, they’ll generally tuck into that while they’re waiting.
DISTRACTION OR NO DISTRACTION?
I’m really torn here. I hate toys, TV and phones at the dinner table. I believe good chat is all you need. Yet, if younger kids are struggling to eat the good stuff, letting them watch their favourite cartoon may distract them long enough to eat up. In reality, I guess a mix of tactics depending on their age is helpful. And ultimately, as they get older, eating, sharing and conversation is definitely the way to go – and it’s good for the soul, too.
I’m not a huge fan of hiding veg, but it works really well! Blitzing or blending them into their favourite dishes is a great place to start – over time you can begin to leave them a bit chunkier, until they eventually stop noticing them. It’s more of a stepping stone than a blanket cure.
LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE
Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t quite go to plan – look at the whole week and reassure yourself that they’ve actually done quite well. If you have the odd battle, don’t stress about it – we’ve all been there! For extra inspiration, take a look at what our family community are making mid-week and get involved by posting up your own family favourites.
5 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
- Dinner time is often chaos – embrace it!
- Your child is not an adult, so cut them a bit of slack
- If a kid grows it and cooks it, they’ll probably eat it
- Focus on what they do like, not on what they don’t
- If everyone’s eating it, they’re more likely to try it
DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY!
Above all, if you’re concerned about what your kids are eating, the fact that you care already puts you in the Premier League of parenting. Have fun with food and try to think long term. They’ll get there in the end.
For more helpful tips and recipe ideas, read what mummy food bloggers Ren Behan and Elysha Huntington have to say when it comes to dealing with fussy eaters.
Extract adapted from Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver, published by Penguin Random House ⓒ Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2016 Super Food Family Classics). Cover photography by Paul Stuart.
Optimum Healthyfry Air Fryer Giveaway
I’m so excited to be able to offer a chance to win this fantastic HealthyFry Air Fryer from Optimum. Last week I wrote a review of the Air Fryer and I have to say I have been really impressed with it so far.
I found the Optimum HealthyFry really easy to use. It has a digital touch screen to operate which is simple but with several different functions. They are pre-set temperatures and cooking times for popular foods such as chips, potato wedges and fish but you can also manually set these too.
The cooking basket is large (a 2.5 litre capacity) but the whole machine is relatively light, weighing just over 5kg.
I have cooked lots of different types of food in the HealthyFry the last few weeks, including fish fingers, healthy chicken nuggets, chips and potato wedges, all with little or no oil.
The Optimum HealthyFry usually retails at £219 but is currently on sale at £129. I also have one machine to giveaway, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!
Terms & Conditions:
This giveaway is open to UK residents only with a UK postal address. All entrants must be 18 years of age or above.
This giveaway will close at 12am on 6th March 2017.
The prize is one Optimum HealthyFry Air Fryer. There is no cash alternative and the prize is non transferrable.
The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter and contacted by email on or after 7th March 2015. The winner must respond to this email within 7 days. If the winner fails to respond with a contact name and address within 7 days another winner will be chosen at random.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 9 1 x
- Category: Snacks
- Cuisine: European
An easy no bake chocolate biscuit and marshmallow fridge cake
- 300 g milk chocolate
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 200 g digestive biscuits, broken into chunks
- 75 g mini marshmallows and 25g for the top
- 25 g chocolate chips
- 50 g white chocolate
- Grease a baking dish………..
- Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of boiling water. When the chocolate has melted add the butter and golden syrup. Stir regularly until its all melted and combined.
- Mix the biscuits and 75g marshmallows in a bowl and pour in the chocolate mixture. Stir until the biscuits and marshmallows are evenly coated.
- Pour the mixture into a tin and refrigerate. After 15 minutes remove from the fridge and top with the remaining marshmallows and chocolate chips.
- Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pain of boiling water. Drizzle the white chocolate on top and return to the fridge for another 1 1/2 hours.
- Once the chocolate has set, remove from the fridge and cut into 9 pieces.
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A super easy festive Rocky Road recipe made with white&hellip
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Club Sandwich for Kids
- Author: Ciara Attwell @ My Fussy Eater
- Prep Time: 3 mins
- Total Time: 3 mins
- Yield: 1 – 2 1 x
- Category: Lunch
- Cuisine: European
Packed with chicken, hummus and veggies this Club Sandwich makes a really tasty and healthy lunch recipe for kids!
- 3 slices wholemeal bread
- 1 tbsp hummus
- 1 large / 2 small slices cooked chicken breast
- Toast the bread and cut off the crusts (optional!)
- Shred the cucumber and carrot with a vegetable peeler.
- Spread the hummus onto the three slices of bread. On one slice add the lettuce and chicken breast. Add another slice of bread and then the tomato, cucumber and carrot. Finally top it with the last slice of toasted bread.
- Serve immediately.
You Might Also Like These Recipes:
A delicious and healthy lunch idea for kids. Wholemeal sandwiches&hellip
A simple but super easy bircher muesli breakfast for kids&hellip
This delicious vegan Sriracha Chickpea sandwich is packed with spicy&hellip
Help for Picky Eaters
If you’re new to Your Kid’s Table and have a picky eater, welcome friend, you’re in the right place. As a feeding therapist and mom to three, I’ve helped thousands around the world get real strategies that can make a big difference in the foods they eat. If you want to learn my three core strategies that can change everything, get a spot in my free workshop for picky eaters:
For tips on how to get your picky eater to eat school lunches, click here.
Spinach & Cheese Savoury Lunchbox Muffins
I don’t know what it is about this time of year but it always makes me crave big fluffy savoury muffins. Packed with cheesy deliciousness I guess they are the ultimate comfort food that you can grab and go at any time!
As well as lots of delicious cheese I’ve packed these savoury muffins with spinach and red peppers too, cause you know I like to sneak some veggies into as many recipes as possible!
I also have one secret ingredient that takes these muffins to a whole new level – the humble stock cube! It really helps to add a burst of flavour and seasoning to the muffins so don’t leave it out!
As well as being super delicious, these savoury muffins are really easy to make. Everything can be mixed in one bowl by hand so there’s no special equipment required.
They taste so good warm from the oven but are equally good cold too. I like to have them for lunch, served with some salad or veggies and they’re perfect for popping into lunchboxes too and they also make a great after-school snack for kids.
For another great lunchbox recipe check out my Savoury Pizza Muffins!
If you try this recipe yourself please do let me know what you think. Or tag me in a picture on Facebook , Twitter or Instagram . I’d love to see your pictures and hearing your comments about the recipes.
Looking for ways to get your fussy eater to eat a better variety of food? Try Pick Plates. These round divided plates have five compartments to be filled with a wide selection of food groups and choices of ingredients. Perfect for making food fun, interesting and appealing to picky eaters.
8. Encourage conversation
Dinner with eager eaters may be smoother, but it really takes off once everyone starts chatting. Tiffany Bendayan, a chef and baker in Miami, devises different ways to make the table a space where her daughters𠅎mily, 10, and Sofia, 8l comfortable sharing just about anything. She asks fun hypothetical questions as icebreakers: “What would you do with a million dollars? If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Where would you like to live one day?”
“It shows me what’s important to them,” says the Venezuelan mom, who shares recipes on the blog Living Sweet Moments. “I’ve learned that Sofia is obsessed with traveling to Japan, and Emily, who has perfected her British accent thanks to the Harry Potter movies, would love to visit Buckingham Palace in England.”
Moms of younger children can start by sharing interesting details of their own day to help little ones feel included. Johany Torres’s kids, Livia, 5, and Joaquin, 3, love to hear about their mom’s fantastical creations as a cake artist. “Talking about everyone’s day teaches our kids that we also care about them and what they do every day, whether it’s making new friends at school or their latest trip to the bookstore,” says the Guatemalan–Puerto Rican mom in Bolingbrook, Illinois. She and her husband, Ruben, also encourage their children to be natural storytellers by recounting tales from their own childhoods. “They like asking about my favorite movies when I was their age, and then we’ll watch them together,” Torres says.
For some families, a change of scenery is all it takes to get everyone chatting and enjoying one another’s company. ting as a family doesn’t have to be defined by a table,” says Neyssa Jump, a food photographer in Douglasville, Pennsylvania. “It’s about being together.” The Cuban–Puerto Rican mom of five, ages 2 to 11, regularly gathers her tribe for picnics in the park or on their living-room floor if it’s raining. “You branch out, and all of a sudden, everyone’s happy, everyone’s eating, and they’re talking without a lot of effort,” Jump says.
Buddy Oliver unveils dad Jamie's genius 5-minute cooking hack
Jamie Oliver has revealed his fair share of cooking hacks over the years, several of which he has passed on to his son Buddy.
In a video Jamie shared on Instagram, the 10-year-old let fans in on some of his secrets in order to help them prepare vegetables quickly and easily. Who wouldn't want a shortcut when it comes to cooking dinner?
"Today I'm going to show you some of the tricks and hacks that my dad taught me to get cooking," Buddy said as he introduced the video.
WATCH: You won't believe Jamie Oliver's incredible garden feature
Starting with ginger, he revealed how to easily peel it without wasting the inside flesh &ndash and it's a safe way that's suitable for kids. Swapping a knife for a spoon, he said: "Using a spoon is a lot safer. Just run it down the ginger. As you can see, all you're losing is the skin."
And his tips didn't end there! Moving onto more common cooking ingredients, he revealed a quick way to prepare courgettes, onions and carrots. "You know how vegetables take so long to cut and it's a bit hard and a bit boring?" Buddy said, before placing a box grater on the table and proceeding to grate the veggies.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 5 carrots, sliced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups tomato sauce
- ½ cup red wine (Optional)
- 1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can green beans
- 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
- 3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup seashell pasta
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Spray with olive oil and serve.
1. Feed child three meals and one snack a day
As mamas, we often think that we need to be feeding our kids 24/7 to be sure they’re getting enough nourishment. But I’ve found that it’s important to let our kids actually get hungry before we set them down for a meal. So breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. And a little nursing or drinks in between.
2. Let them feed themselves
I’ll admit it. I spoon-fed my guy until he was about 14 months old because I was sure I’d get more in him. It was becoming annoying for both of us so I stopped. And once I did, he started eating more! Kids enjoy the satisfaction of feeding themselves.
3. Don’t encourage, beg or even watch them eat
The more I pushed food on Griffin, the more he’d resist. With picky eaters, there’s usually a power struggle going on. So the best tactic is just let them be. By not interfering, your child will actually love satisfying his own hunger. It’s a beautiful thing!
4. Provide colorful, flavorful variety at each meal
Kids like to try different tastes if we start early. My goal is to rotate fruits, vegetables, starches and proteins as much as I can. I also dress foods with spices and condiments. (My guy loves spicy Dijon mustard! Who knew?) Avoid the easy food ruts like buttered noodles or blueberries, and expose your child to new flavors to avoid picky eaters.
5. Try some props for your picky eaters
Let’s face it, kids have the attention span of goldfish a half hour in the high chair can seem unbearable. Try putting that chair in from of a window so they can look out and see birds, cars and life going on.
You can also put washable books on their high chair so they can look at pictures as they eat peas. Even a little car or doll can keep them company.
6. Keep challenging them with new eating behaviors
Towards the end of a meal, reward your child by letting them practice a more grown-up eating behavior. If she’s still eating with her hands, let her practice with a fork or spoon. If he still uses a sippy, let him drink straight from a glass. If she’s still in a booster chair, try dining without one. All of these boost confidence – and can help get a few extra bites in as well.
7. Allow them to be part of the food choices
As your child gets older, let them pick between two food options. Do you want corn tortillas or rice noodles? Do you want strawberries or pears? By allowing your child to pick which food, they’ll feel more in control and excited about eating.
8. Include your picky eaters in food prep
Can your child crack an egg? Stir yogurt or butter toast? Let them help as appropriate for their age. Don’t think just because they are 18 months they can’t take part in some way! By just watching me crack and cook an egg, Griffin now loves them!
Get free updates based on your toddler’s birth date! – Free Updates on Toddler [In-article]
How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy
I’ve got 8 strategies below to help your child begin to eat new foods instead of only eating junk food, you don’t necessarily have to use all of them, but the more you can implement the quicker you’ll see success! (affiliate link used below)
Also, PLEASE keep in mind that I use the term healthy very loosely. While I love healthy foods sometimes we can get really caught up in that label, the goal is to expand your child’s diet and have a decent selection of foods they will eat. Everyone’s definition of what is healthy is different. If you want to focus specifically on vegetables you can read about how to get kids to eat vegetables there or get tips for helping kids eat meat here.
1. Keep Healthy Foods in the House
It may seem like a waste to buy them, but its important for our kids to see us buying fresh food in the store and unloading them onto our shelves. In fact these are great activities for you child to help with. When you’re in the grocery store ask them to go get some tomatoes or picky up the bananas and load them into the cart. Have them help you unpack the bags when you get home and show them where these foods go. Just make sure you don’t slip any comments in there like, “Are you going to try these bananas today? Mommy is buying them for you!” this will make the activity have a negative light on it and turn your kid off to trying them at all.
2. Model Eating Healthy Foods
Make sure you eat those healthier food options you bought and eat them with your child, even it they’re not. Again, you’ll want to avoid any comments like, “See Mommy is eating the banana, its so good. A banana will make you strong, how about you try a bite?” Comments like these will have the same effect, just let your child witness you eating the food and at the most, without any pressure, you can talk about the food neutrally. Something like, “This banana is sweet and sometimes people put into cookies because of its flavor and sweetness. Its also very soft and easy to chew.”
3. Serve Healthy Options
Without pressuring your child to eat other foods begin serving them healthy foods alongside the junk food they prefer. Start with just one healthy food, keep the amount small, and let your child know they don’t have to eat it. If they have a total freak out trying taking baby steps backwards. Offer a divided plate, we use these one’s in my house, or even a small bowl next to their plate until they can tolerate it. Then take baby steps back to getting the food actually on their plate. This may take a few meals or a few weeks, I told you that patience would be needed!
4. Buy Less Junk Food
If your child is making some progress with eating healthy foods try to cut back on how much junk food you buy, when it isn’t in the house it isn’t there to eat. If your child won’t eat anything else but junk food you’ll have to be very careful here because they do need to eat something! It’s very important that every meals they are served at least one food you expect they will eat.
Another trick I like is to buy healthier junk foods, there are lots of brands now that duplicate the most popular junk foods but keep an out for the food dyes and preservatives. Look for those by reading the back of the package. Learn more about what preservatives and additives you might want to look for in your child’s food. At the same time you can make your own healthy versions of junk foods with recipes like these healthy gummy bears or these amazing homemade french fries (I’ve tried them and they are really good!)
5. Don’t Lecture About Healthy Foods
It’s soooo hard not to lecture our kids about what healthy foods are and why we should eat them, but this creates an atmosphere of pressure kids just turn against. It also does the opposite and creates a negative association with food. The same goes for guilting them into eating, like when we say, “This food is so good for you, don’t you want to be big and strong?” Read more about how NOT pressuring your child to eat can be a total game changer.
6. Prepare a Meal or Snack Together
Have no expectation of your child actually eating the food, that will save you a lot of disappointment, but get them involved in rinsing the vegetables or chopping up some foods if they are old enough, click here for kitchen skill by age. If they refuse to help, let them know earlier in the day this is something you’ll be doing together and give frequent reminders throughout the day. Make it fun, put on some music. Any interaction with healthy foods is a wonderful opportunity for them and will help in ways you might not see immediately but will have long term gains.
Want to see some examples of how I’ve done this in my kitchen? Check out our quiche, pumpkin waffles, and paella recipes, you’ll find step by step inspiration for how I got my kids involved.
7. Cut off Endless Snacking
Junk food is easy to eat all day, a lot of it has msg in it that physically creates a craving for more. When our kids aren’t eating well its really tempting to let them eat whenever they want because at least they’re eating, but that’s doing way more harm than good. Set up a schedule and aim for kids having nothing but water in between their meals. I like to space meals out every 2.5-3 hours because this creates an appetite cycle that actually has them hungry when they sit down to eat.
This is one of my top tips to improve and child’s eating, get the rest on a free printable here.
8. Plant a Garden
This can be as simple as a single pot on your patio or porch, and while it takes some effort the rewards are worth it. I’ve seen it happen over and over again in my home! Kids are invested and interested in foods they’ve watched grow in a way that is otherwise had to replicate. Read more about the benefits of starting a garden for picky eaters.
Having a child that won’t eat anything but junk food can be frustrating and worrisome to say the least, but these tips you learned can be the start of getting your child to eat healthy foods. To have an even huger impact on your child’s diet, and your sanity, save yourself a seat in my FREE WORKSHOP: 3 Keys to Turn Around Picky Eating.
You could have amazing results like Ninya, who emailed afterwards and said, “I’ve been applying the strategies I learned in the workshop and my boy has now tried cucumbers and fish sticks….. which he would have rather died than trying before. Thank you!”