I don’t think I’d be a parent if I didn’t have fussy eaters.
It comes with the territory, right? I mean, children have to start to love food at some point. They don’t just begin life with an insatiable zest for it all.
Now, you may have jumped onto my blog in the hopes of finding a once and for all solution that’s ‘one size fits all’ – you know, the kind that can help every fussy eater, no matter where their fuss level is at.
If that’s why you’re here, first of all, welcome! And I feel your pain. Disciplining and potty training and keeping them alive is enough in itself, without having to throw food tantrums in the mix. With two very active little ones, trust me: I feel your pain, tenfold.
Secondly, you need to know that I wouldn't be writing a blog if I didn't have an opinion. I'm not just going to write some crap that aligns with the kinds of products I hope you buy so that I can buy more nappies. I want to be able to level with you and (hopefully) express an opinion that means something to at least one of my subscribers.
I'll get to the point – this isn't going to be a popular opinion. You can take the title of this blog post quite literally – it's a no-fuss guide.
Let's backtrack for a sec. To understand what the advice I'm about to give, you need to understand the way I like to parent. I'm not a very patient person. This means that when the witching hours descends upon our household, and I've started thinking about my 5:30 pm wine, I don't have a lot left to give.
My biggest goal in life is to raise children that aren’t spoiled brats. When it comes to history, I already think that my kids are some of the luckiest kids alive. They have everything available to them, at a relatively affordable price. They have healthcare on tap and an attentive caregiver who can afford to stay home with them so that they don’t have to be stuck in a daycare for ten hours a day (that’s another blog post).
The point is, they’re fine – absolutely fine. They have everything they could possibly need and want, and I always put them first – especially when it comes to meal times. But this doesn’t mean that I tear my hair out trying to get them to eat their veggies.
This is because I don’t give them a choice. Nothing irks me more than the type of parenting style that allows fussy eaters five different choices at dinner, just so that they might land on one they like. While this may feel like your only option, ironically it’s actually going to cause your children to become even fussier with their food.
When it comes to my fussy eaters, I don’t give them what they want. I make dinner for my husband and I, and whatever it is that I’ve dreamt up that night, they have to eat. I don’t leave seasoning out or add extra breadcrumbs in case they don’t like it. I don’t serve it sans coriander or exclude the feta from the salad to accommodate for their fussy taste buds.
I make dinner for everyone, and everyone has to eat it. If my fussy wonders don't like it, then tough – that's dinner. They can go hungry. They're perfectly fine: they constantly snack throughout the day, they have plenty of water to keep them hydrated, they're warm and dry and bathed before they go to bed.
They're not going to starve or be psychologically scarred because they couldn't finish the dinner I served them.
This is the kind of approach I’ve taken from the beginning. Even my 11-month-old has to eat whatever we are having that night. The only reason why I wouldn’t feed her something is if the texture was too advanced for her – I mean, she’s only got three little teeth so far. I’m not unrealistic.
If I serve something up to my two and a half year old and she throws her spoon down, declaring she doesn’t like it, I don’t throw my hands up in despair before running around the kitchen like a headless chicken, scrambling to find something that may be to her liking.
If she doesn’t like it, whatever. She can either try to eat it or have nothing. Then we'll start again the next day, and she'll have forgotten all about her beef with the zucchini.
If I did give her a choice, I'm just prolonging the inevitable. She won't have to try foods she'll have to get used to soon enough for a long time, leading her to believe that as an adult she can restrict her diet to her few favorite things - but life doesn't work like that.
And you know what? She’s not really much of a fussy eater at all. They’ll be the occasional foreign food item mixed in that she’ll turn her nose up at, but for the most part she’s happy to eat what I give her.
We live in a beautiful time of complacency and convenience, which has seemingly endless opportunities and advantages. However, it also endangers our children of becoming spoiled and entitled, which is not something I’m prepared to teach them.
I've stopped tearing my hair out and needing a wine at 5:30 pm because of what meal times can be like. I've decided to leave the fear of a fussy eater to fate and bravely place whatever I choose in front of my children at meal times. The results have been nothing short of miraculous.
If you're over the mealtime mayhem and would prefer not to have to put so much effort into your fussy eaters, perhaps try the hard line with them. I know how resistant toddlers can be to pretty much anything, so this certainly isn't an overnight thing.
All I can say is that it’s worked for me, which means it could work for you, too. If you don’t feel like you’ll ever get there with your fussy eaters, check out my other blog post where I recommend a top-notch book on how to teach your kids to eat well.
Subscribe for more unpopular opinions – you never know, you may just land on one that works. What are your fussy eaters throwing the most shade on right now? Let me know!