Do you have to prepare a number of dishes every mealtime to satisfy different tastes? Is this becoming a pain? This is exactly what’s happening to one mum who’s tearing her hair out trying to prepare meals for her family. Do you have any advice for this week’s A Problem Shared…
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I need some advice as I’m having a headache preparing meals for my family.
My 10-year-old daughter hates vegetables and insists on only eating fish fingers and chips every night. I’m concerned she’s not getting enough fibre. My 7-year-old son is very fussy and if he doesn’t like what I cook then I find myself making him other things until he’s willing to eat. I’m a vegetarian and trying to lose weight so I’m on a special diet. My husband is a carnivore and has to eat some type of meat at each meal.
Meal times are a nightmare for me! Can you help?
Our FamilyPoint advice…
Thanks for contacting us here at FamilyPoint Cymru. It sounds like mealtimes are certainly keeping you busy at the moment. Children who are fussy eaters are always a challenge. As parents all we want is for them to eat something to make sure they get some food inside them. We’ve come up with a few suggestions below that will hopefully help your situation.
Changing routine at mealtimes can sometimes help fussy eaters. Once they get used to the same routine they also get used to the pattern of refusing to eat. Maybe have a think about your family’s mealtime routine to see if you can make some changes. You could change the time of your evening meal to make it a bit later to make sure your children are really hungry. Change who helps you out in the kitchen and what jobs they do or change where you eat the meal. See if these changes make a difference at all.
Take a look at a previous A Problem Shared… where we gave advice for a child who wouldn’t eat any vegetables. There may be some useful tips there that could be helpful.
Know what people are happy to eat
Another suggestion is for you to have a family meeting and explain to everyone that you are finding it hard preparing 4 different meals every day. Ask everyone to help you out by writing a list of foods that they are happy to eat. You could ask them to write which meat, fish, vegetables and carbohydrates they are happy to eat. Make a rule that they have to choose at least 3 different ones in each category. You might be surprised to see what’s on everyone’s lists and hopefully you’ll get a few meal ideas that will suit everyone.
Write a menu for the whole week and put it up in the kitchen so everyone knows what’s being cooked that evening. This will help with your children’s expectations of what food will be served.
By refusing to eat, children feel a sense of power over their parents and this is usually one of the main reasons older children refuse to eat. Try to get your children involved in the cooking of the meals. This will give them some sense of responsibility and it might help them feel a sense of achievement over their meal. This might help them to eat more of a variety.
A healthy, balanced diet
You mentioned that you are worried that your daughter is not getting enough fibre in her diet. The NHS has come up with an interesting article that explains per age group the nutrients and calories needed to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
The most important factor is to be firm with your children. Make sure they understand that they have agreed to eat certain foods and you have compromised to prepare meals that include these foods. Tell them you will only be cooking one meal for them. This will be the hardest challenge for you. If your children refuse to eat what you give them at first, continue to give clear boundaries and rules. It’s only a matter of time until they accept that whatever you make is their meal for that evening. By being firm and trying to help your children explore their taste buds you are very much helping them to become healthy individuals with a balanced and healthy varied diet. Try to keep this concept in mind when the temptation of making them something else comes to mind!
We hope these tips are useful to you and many thanks for contacting us at FamilyPoint Cymru.
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
I hope this advice has been helpful. Good luck.
The FamilyPoint Cymru Team
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