Planning mealtimes can be a challenge. Balancing healthy meals for the family, considering everyone's favourites and finding time to actually cook is a job in itself. Add a fussy eater to the mix and you have a recipe for frustration. The dream of an enjoyable family dinner becomes filled with anxiety for both you and your child.

Instead of fighting with your child every mealtime, or forcing them to eat, take a deep breath and let them be their own food guide, under your supervision of course. Here are a few helpful tips for dealing with your fussy eater and recipes that can be prepared by or with your child. Turn a fussy eater into a happy eater and turn your mealtimes into a dream.

  • GET THEM INVOLVED – From the menu planning to the shopping and even the cooking, allowing your fussy eater to make choices about what he/she eats gives them the feeling of control they might be looking for. Talk openly about different foods, how foods are grown and nutrition. The more they know the more likely they are to try new foods. A little bit of empowerment can go a long way for the fussy eater.
  • WATCH SNACKING – Often a fussy eater isn't interested in dinner because they filled up on snacks (and usually not the healthy ones) after school. Snacks are important for a growing child but become a problem when they interfere with mealtimes. Keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy snack options, like fruit, cut vegetables and dip, crackers and cheese or dried fruit and nuts. Limiting the amount, and kind, of snacks may be enough for your child to enjoy dinner once again.
  • BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL – Children look to their parents first for how to react to new situations. If you turn your nose up at certain foods, or flat out refuse others they are watching and learning from you. Make healthy, varied choices for yourself and your child will follow, eventually!
RECIPES

Below are links to family-friendly recipes with tips for getting your child involved. Teaching the basics of cooking and food safety may be enough to turn a fussy eater into a happy cook, and a happy eater.

JOBS FOR LITTLE HANDS:
  • Transfer the ground beef from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before. Never thaw foods on the counter.
  • Wash vegetables.
  • Chop vegetables, under adult supervision. Remember a sharp knife cuts food easier than a dull knife, which means less risk of cutting oneself. Teach how to hold and handle a knife properly before using.
  • Shred cheese.
  • Assemble ingredients in baking dish.
  • Set timer.