With a busy pace of life, it’s not hard to feel in a mid-week dinner slump, especially when you have fussy eaters. To make it easier, think about looking at these three mindset-shifts rather than diving into a brand-new recipe every night.  Making a few tweaks to the structure may help you introduce more variety and shift your focus from fussing over their eating to raising children that feel confident about food choices.


Family Style Serving

Try serving foods from the middle of the table as often as possible. For some families, this may only be manageable a few times a week. That’s ok. The small steps you take towards serving foods from the middle of the table help shift the pressure on yourself away from “I have to get them to eat” to “I have offered them foods they can choose to eat”. The middle of the table works for a few reasons, including;

1) Kids can be tired and easily overwhelmed by a full plate of food at the end of the day.

2) We encourage them to learn self-regulation at a designated location and time

3) If there is a food they are still learning about on their plate, they may feel like they must “take a bite”. This heightens anxiety and directly causes appetite to lose in the moment. A tell-tale sign of this is when a child says they aren’t hungry at dinner and then comes back 1 hour later and says they are starving. The anxiety butterflies that were filling their tummy have gone and now they realise they are hungry.


Mix and Match

At a meal, it’s important to offer children foods they can successfully eat and to show them variety is part of meals. Let’s say that your child is a hardened fan of chicken nuggets, aim to serve them in a variety of combinations. For example, you can serve store-bought nuggets alongside steamed veggies and mashed potatoes one night. A new week rolls around and they can be served on a skewer alongside a Japanese style katsu sauce, wilted greens and rice cooked in broth. Later, you can serve them for a DIY Mexican night with soft tortilla wraps, slaw and a lime and coriander yoghurt. Trying to break the convention of “this goes with that” helps your child accept variety and allows you to offer food that you all want.


Eating Together

Along with serving foods in the middle of the table, try to eat with the children a few times a week. Studies say that the benefits of eating together 3 times a week have a direct impact on the variety of foods that children will eat. If you can’t eat at the same time, try having a cup of tea whilst sitting next to them during their meal and chat about everything else besides the food. Your role modelling of sitting and paying attention to your own task for at least 5 uninterrupted minutes is a super investment.


You may also like to read:

4 Myths About Fussy Eating We Are Tired of Hearing

How to manage fussy eating

Fun Foods for Fussy Eaters