Food for thought
If you are a parent whose children are fussy eaters and they have a balanced diet of all 5 basic food groups; toast, chicken nuggets, chocolate ice cream, strawberry ice cream, and more toast. You might dread the thought of trying to satisfy their appetite when in foreign lands. Food for fussy eaters can bring out the fear in parents and could be a big worry on taking their kids away travelling or on holiday. But fear no longer, we are here to help.
Read more: Eat well. Travel often
Firstly, let’s get some perspective. Every single adult in the world has had to face this challenge at some stage in their parenting journey. Young children have even been known to treat their mums and dads like little playthings by polishing off every bit of that new vegetarian recipe found on Pinterest. Only for them to reject it in the most unreasonable and uncommunicative way the very next time you make it for dinner.
We can’t promise you that your child will to approach a street food vendor in Vietnam with the same energy and enthusiasm as they do their local McDonalds or ice cream shop. What we can offer is offer some advice to make sure the food for fussy eaters issue does not impact your travels.
We are big fans of the 6 Ps (sometimes this is referred to the 7 Ps but as this is a family lifestyle blog, we’ll keep to 6).
Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance
- It all starts at home
You will hear us shouting this from the rooftops over and over, especially here where we talk about how to fly with a toddler. We can’t stress enough how important it is that your travels should begin at home, weeks before the day of departure. This can be in the form of funny games where you show your child pictures of the weird and wonderful foods from around the world and their origins. Or get into the kitchen and start introducing the types of food that they might come across, whether it is rice, noodles or other items. Make sure you take the time to talk about the foods and build the excitement around eating them. Children are more likely to eat food that they have helped prepare so make sure you try this out. This is one of the reasons why a lot of our itineraries include activities for both parents and children, such as these ones.
Read more: Tips on flying with a toddler
Read more: Our destinations
This also means researching your destination and thinking about the style of food and the options you are likely to find. Think about alternatives and do plenty of reading. There are so many blogs out there covering every destination in the world from parents who have been there and done it. Don’t be scared to ask for help and advice, whether from one of these bloggers or from one of our team that can be contacted here.
- Look at the restaurant menus.
The joy of living in the modern age of technology is that you can access the website or social media accounts of nearly every restaurant in the world. Take advantage of this and have a look at what they serve, pictures of their dishes and other customer reviews. Our amazing team at two point four have already done this research and we make sure that the restaurants we have selected are child-friendly and are well used to catering for all different appetites. You can do this too. Plan ahead and think about what dishes your child might eat or what could you order to satisfy their quirky palettes. Starters are usually a good option so they can have a variety of smaller dishes.
Read more: Eat well. Travel often
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask.
If your kid freaks out because one food is touching another on a plate, tell the restaurant this when you are ordering and ask them to serve the different ingredients on separate plates. We usually find that restaurants are happy to go above and beyond to help families and most of them are happy to alter dishes where they can. You won’t know until you ask.
- Eat like a champion
Breakfast has always been considered the most important meal of the day. If your child favours breakfast then make sure you take the time to enjoy a full meal, which will set them up for hours. Much easier to rely on snacks for the rest of the day after they have enjoyed a full and hearty breakfast.
- Fortune favours the brave
Hands up if you have ever eaten the most amazing food on holiday and then tried to recreate it at home, only to be left feeling cheated and disappointed? Or have you ever noticed that the freshly cut pineapple you get on a beach tastes like fruit from the Gods compared to what you get in your local supermarket? Children are no different. This might be the time to be brave and to try and introduce new foods that previously your kids turned their nose up at. The reason for this is that children’s minds are more open to exploration and discovery and so they might be willing to give it a go. This is only one of the positive impacts of travel on children, more of which are listed here. You could be reaping the benefits of this one for many meal times to come!
Read more: Benefits of travel for children
- Lead by example
Following on from number 5, it is not only the kids who have to be willing to give things a go. Most parents have been in the unfortunate situation where their little one comes out with a swear word or a phrase that makes you want to cringe, usually at the most awkward time too. But where did they learn it? That’s right, you. Children are watching everything we do and say and replicating it. So use that to your advantage rather than cringing at their latest outburst. Be willing to try new food yourself but make sure you talk to them whilst you are doing it. How does it make you feel? What does it taste like? This is very much a time for stepping up to the plate.
- Stick to what you know
If after reading this, the thought of managing a fussy appetite still fills you with dread, then stick to what you know. If chicken nuggets are the one thing you can rely on, then eat chicken nuggets. After all, you are on holiday so don’t stress about it. We all like to relax on holiday and indulge a bit, don’t worry about your kids doing the same. You might be surprised about how easy it is to get the basics when you are away, such as cereals or snacks and you could always pack a few items to bring with you. This familiarity to tried and tested options should help reduce the anxiety of fussy eating.
Find out more: Eat well. Travel often
No matter how many of these tips you make the most of, the important thing to remember is to relax and be patient. Making mealtimes fun on holiday through games and new surroundings can be a great way to enjoy some family time. Family travel groups consist of like-minded people who are in the same boat as you. This could be an advantage to the fussy eaters as they are probably looking at their new best friend to eat certain foods. This might just be the golden ticket as they usually mimic what their friends do and follow suit.
Find out more: Family travel groups