I met Cat from Sorting Self for a coffee back in August. Cat told me more about her Sorting Self events. They’re a chance for ladies and mamas to invest spend them time in themselves whether it’s learning new skills, being the best version of themselves or feeling equipped with top tips to manage everyday life. Oh and not forgetting her regular book club (where you don’t have to be reading the book to hang out and chat). We then chatted about the schedule for Sorting Self.
Cat mentioned the September event led by Sam from Happy Eaters. A talk on how to deal with children who are fussy eaters. Cat, count me in, I’m there! That’s exactly what I need to know about. Sam is like a down-to-earth super-heroine, busting fussy eater myths and the high expectations we have of ourselves as parents trying to feed the whole family. Sam covered so many great tips, they will be appearing on Lucky Things blog over a few posts.
A little bit about our fussy eater…
Big Munch is 3 and a bit years old now. To be honest she’s never been a big eater. Her lil’ sis Baby Munch is another story. Don’t eat something in front of Baby Munch unless you have her own portion ready in a flash. Otherwise you will be faced with Baby Munch agro, a force not to be reckoned with. I think she actually gets that from me as when I’m hungry I definitely hangry. Back to Big Munch. I’ve struggled at times encouraging her to eat her meals and try new foods which I’m positive she will love. No thank you Mummy, Don’t want it, Don’t like it are popular responses round our dinner table. I’ve even found her a healthy ketchup Kidchup in case this encourages her to try out new things.
7 top tips on dealing with fussy eaters from Sam at Happy Eaters
- Plan your family meals…Planning is not about planning weeks or months in advance. It doesn’t need to feel like a school canteen. Sam explained that it’s fine to plan the meal on the day, ideally in the morning so you know what you’re doing. Even better if it’s at the start of the week so you can plan your food shopping. Scrambling around the fridge half an hour before you have to pick up the kids or thinking about what to rustle together on the train from work to nursery just causes us more stress. It’s OK to give kids their favourites but add something different and keep trying out new things when you have more time.
- Accept that your kids will have dislikes…As Sam mentioned, your partners or husbands may also have preferences! Mr. H tends to eat vegetarian or fish dishes for health reasons, which means I have to be a bit more organised when I want the girls and me to have a meatier meal. When you have more than one child, don’t expect them to all like the same thing. Just like grown-ups they have their own favourites.
- Kids love familiarity…That’s why they may ask for the same food over and over again. Familiarity is comforting, it’s what they know best. Favourites of Big Munch’s are (plain) pasta, fish fingers and peas and scrambled eggs and beans. I’ve started to sneak other things into the scrambled eggs. Sam explained that kids ask for the same meals just like they ask to watch their favourite TV programme. They don’t seem to get bored of food like we do. Sam reassured us that its OK to give kids the same meal two days in a row. It just becomes problematic if you’re having same meal every day.
- Strengthen your power to cope with fussiness… One top tip is to manage expectations. Put up the weekly menu (which can be changed) up on the fridge so the kids can see what will be on their plates that day. As Big Munch isn’t reading yet I’m thinking of drawing some pictures so she can see our weekly menu. Luckily fish fingers are easy to draw! Also, start talking about meals during the day. This helps to manage your children’s expectations and they can start to imagine what their lunch or dinner will look like. I’ve started to do this with Big Munch on the way to nursery.
- You don’t need that much variety for breakfasts…I loved this advice. Keeping breakfast simple is just fine. Monotony is good for breakfast time. Also pick your battles and keep breakfast easy for everyone. Yes, it’s a lovely treat to make fresh banana-blueberry pancakes on a Saturday morning but that means I have to get out of bed half an hour earlier. I’m grabbing as much sleep as I can get before the girls wake up! Again kids love having their favourite cereals at breakfast. You can add in a bit of variety like different spreads on their toast or a bit of fruit.
- Eat together as a family when you can…This isn’t always possible as mums and dads may work late and maybe we aren’t hungry at the same times. If Mr.H and me are at both at home in the early evenings, we always sit down with the girls and eat tea together. I love our weekend lunches at home. Sam suggested that not everyone’s meals have to be identical but make sure there are common elements like everyone has the same veg or carbs or jacket potatoes with different fillings. This idea works really well for our family.
- Getting kids involved…Sam reminded us that when toddlers are about 1.5/2 years old they love to copy grown-ups. So give them a bit of food to play with and prepare. Let them count the carrots or sort the peas and the sweetcorn. As Sam says, utilise your little helpers. The one thing I really enjoy doing with Big Munch is letting her choose some fruit from the local grocers or supermarket. We also let her bring her sparkly gold handbag full of coins to Sainsbury’s so she actually contributes to the weekly shopping (no joke, last week she contributed £2.94!).
So a huge thank you to Sam at Happy Eaters. She really changed my view of family meal planning and it actually feels less stressful. Sam didn’t judge or make us feel bad because we don’t all make home-made meals for every day of the week. She just gave us practical tips we can all try out.
Part 2 of this fussy eaters series will be out next week. This will also include the list of easy meals from the mamas who were at the Sorting Self event. Check out more advice and children’s nutritionist services provided by Sam at Happyeaters.co.uk
A post on Milly’s Kidchup is also appearing on Lucky Things blog soon. In the meantime head over to MillyCundall.com to find out more about this lovely kid-friendly sauce.
I’ll be doing a little talk at the next Sorting Self event on a Beginner’s Guide to Blogging. It will be a pleasure to be talking alongside Vicki from the Lifestyle Maven. I know she will have lots of great blogging tips to share. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for Sorting Self events especially if you’re based around North London way.