Family meal times: the secret to beating fussy eating + a #giveaway

fussy eating

Those of you who follow my blog know that we have danced with the fussy eating devil for many years, and it’s pretty much been my life’s dedication and work since motherhood to try to banish him to a far away land….um hey?! what HAVEN’T WE TRIED????! But for all our newfangled solutions – smiley food faces, puppet shows and everything in-between, it was something super simple that helped us turn a corner on the fussy eating stakes.

Are you ready to hear what it was?

There’s no rocket science involved in this, no bells and whistles, just something very old fashioned, as it happens.

Are you ready for the big reveal?

It was eating family meals together.

I have to admit now, this did take a bit of orchestration on our part to make it happen and this is definitely a tough one to pull out of the bag in this modern day parent juggle when so often once you get work and getting back from work into the mix, having dinner together can feel like a pipedream.

Family meal times

So how to make it happen? Well, it may mean fiddling around with meal times, or focusing more on eating breakfast together as opposed to dinner, or perhaps making it all about family meals at the weekend. It might mean that only one parent sits down to have the family dinner, but that you have to eat your dinner at the ludicrously early time of 5.30pm rather than plonking their tea down for them to eat while you get on with the chores. But whichever way you can spin it, family meals together can be a game-changer when it comes to minimising – and perhaps one day – ending the fussy eating dramas.

That’s why I’ve  teamed up with Haliborange –  the range of children’s vitamins made by the UK’s leading supplements manufacturer Seven Seas – to share my thoughts on why family meals times are just so important in the quest to knock fussy eating on the head.

So what’s the deal with family meals and fussy eating?

There are a few reasons why eating family meals together in whatever way we can has worked for us:

  • Leading by example – although they may be reluctant at the outset, children learn by modelling and repeated behaviour. So while they might throw an epic wobbly at the prospect of eating something new for the first time, over time they will eventually see everyone eating a wide variety of foods and will accept it as their new normal…even if it means they only try it once and spit it out with disgust twenty times before they finally accept it – that is still huge progress compared to flat out stonewalling it in my book!
  • Communication  – family meal times give you a chance to actually talk about the food on your plate and nutrition. What is it? Where does it come from? Why is it good for you? It’s also a great time for your child to talk about their day whatever age they might be….which in itself is actually the perfect  natural distraction for any fussy eater!
  • Re-connecting – family meal times give you a better shot of making the whole eating process a happy time where you can catch up on your day rather than a stressful experience about what they are or are not eating. It becomes more than just about food. A child eating in isolation to help minimize the fussy eating drama might sound like a good idea at the time, but it might actually feel more like punishment because essentially they are losing out on the chance to reconnect with their family over a meal.

Family meal times

Make it right for your family

I have to stress now, that all of this has to be realistic. What a family meal means to one family might not be the same to another family so it’s very much about what works for you. It doesn’t have to be everyone sitting down perfectly with tip top table manners (because that certainly doesn’t ever happen in our house!). But it’s more the getting together of everyone at the table, at the same time, in a relaxed way as possible that takes the pressure off the fussy eater in question and hopefully diffuses the power struggles (it’s easier to ignore any fussy eating behaviour while there are other dynamics going on as opposed to when they are the sole dynamic – gah!).

That being said, making it right for your family doesn’t mean making it right for EVERYONE in your family and by that I mean, avoid making multiple meals to serve at the same time which not only will make your head absolutely explode over time, but will also just reinforce the fussiness. Yup, offering alternatives when the rest of the family are just getting on with it is a super slipperly slope and will basically negate any benefits derived from having your meal together.

Family meal times: The secret to beating fussy eating

I’d love to know if you have tried using family meal times as a way to circumvent fussy eating and what your experiences have been. Do leave a comment and share.  In the meantime, the lovely people over at Haliborange are offering a fab vitamin bundle for your littles in this giveaway here….

***Win a vitamin bundle from Haliborange to let your littles shine on my giveaways page***

* This is a commissioned post in collaboration with Haliborange. Food supplements do not replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Vitamin A: helps support normal vision, Vitamin C: helps support the immune system, Vitamin D: essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children, Vitamin B12: contributes to normal energy release.

Picture credit: Designed by Freepik

33 comments

  1. Some great ideas here and thankfully I have kids who will eat anything lol Making sure they are getting the right amounts of everything are important though!

  2. My youngest is 2 and quite a good eater, her older sister (middle child) isnt great with fruit and vegetables as she is scared to try new things and basically says she doesnt like it, if she simply doesnt like the look of it, for her, we have a reward chart that includes stars for trying new things, it helps a little but she’s quite stubburn and I think she just says she doesnt like things that perhaps she doesnt really mind. My eldest (my son) he’s great at trying everything but has swallowing/sensitivity issues so things ike mash, baked beans etc make him gag, he will have potatoes in other forms though so with him there’s no real issues

  3. Great tips! As a kid we always had family dinners it is so important to catching up with everyone at the end of the day. I was the pickiest eater as a kid so I can really relate to this! I think getting into cooking really helped me become more adventurous with food and now I have a Street Food Business!

  4. It’s great that something so simple can make such a difference, we always ate together 4 or 5 nights a week and perhaps that’s why my kids are pretty good eaters. of course with some jobs/ shifts etc it can e much harder. Mich x

  5. I’ve got to say, we rarely ever have dinner separately. We nearly always eat as a whole family. And, out of all 4 kids only one of them has a dislike… parsnips! I really am lucky 🙂

  6. My twins – 1 will try anything at least once – 1 is fussy (takes after his mum!). We definitely connect more at breakfast time as it’s easy to all sit down together and eat. Dinners – not quite there yet as they eat theirs at 4.30 and that’s a bit early for me so we try and do a late lunch/dinner. As a fussy eater my advice is to encourage but never force…I still won’t eat peas…

  7. Thankfully my son isn’t a fussy eater and that’s probably due to the fact we’ve always eaten at least breakfast and dinner together. Even when my hubby is away for work, our son and I eat our meals together. So this has probably helped him become the good ‘grubber’ (as my folks say) he is today.

  8. Ah so many good tips here! Evie is more fickle than fussy, constantly changing her mind about what she likes! Very frustrating one week to the next

  9. I love this. Our eldest has always been fussy but I definitely find eating together helps somewhat. It also means I don’t go to the easy meal choices as I would when the kids were eating before us. It’s a slog but it’s slowly but surely working for us.

  10. I’m a mama to one of the easiest children I’ve ever known and it’s a killer at meal times so I’ll Definietly be giving these ideas a try as I’m at my wits end with food here haha. I think he gets it from his dad, we do dinner at the table, always have and always make new dishes but somehow that doesn’t make a difference with my little bear.

  11. my eldest daughter will not have anything that has a sauce, even pasta , yet my youngest will eat anything and is more adventurous than me . Both my daughters take Haliborange everyday

  12. I have 2 fussy eaters. In fact my eldest is more than a fussy eater, he has selective eating disorder. You’re totally right, eating family meals together helps incredibly.

  13. With my husbands work shift it has meant we have always sat down to eat dinner together at a stupidly early time of 5pm! I do think it helped my kids with eating as they have watched and learned from such a early age. With my twins they would watch their big brother too much made a big difference!

  14. We really struggle to eat together due to Hubby and the teens shift work. We do try to at least once a week

  15. Yes! Completely agree about the sitting down together as a family. This has been a huge part of our lives ever since my first baby was old enough to eat. We did baby led weaning and eating together is a big part of this – like you say, children learn by modelling adult behaviour. My children have a few things they don’t like, but we have never had fussy eaters and I put this down to BLW and eating as a family.

  16. I try to eat with my children as much as possible, we always have dinner together, there is a little bit of fussiness but not too bad, we stock up on vitamins to help us beat the colds

  17. My youngest daughter is an extremely fussy eater, this comes in the main from having Asperger’s as she has many issues with various textures of food.

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