Making a healthy diet part of your everyday routine can be hard to get into. Things get even tougher, however, when you are or have a fussy eater to cook for. Whether it’s your children, partner or relatives, meal options can feel restricted. But it is possible! Here are our best tips and tricks for making nutritious fuel for your active lifestyle even when there’s fussiness to contend with:
The fear of the unknown can be a big trigger for picky eaters. If it’s not clear what is in a dish, how can someone know that they’ll like it or not? If this is a common occurrence, get your fussy eater on board by shopping for ingredients together or cooking as a team.
If you prefer to do the cooking or shopping at your own convenience, perhaps the teamwork can be in the planning. Picking out some recipes, it could be a good way to involve everyone in trying new things.
To hit the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes a little sneakiness is best. These can work even if you are the fussy eater, and can be a good step towards trying certain foods on their own.
For example, carrots blend seamlessly into a tomato pasta sauce. Or, blended cauliflower or swede can be hidden in a cheese topping. If rice is a favourite, mixing grated cauliflower among the real deal can add a portion of veg to your day.
Find Nutritious Substitutions
If there is a certain food group that your fussy eater swerves altogether, look up alternatives that will provide the same nutrients. For example, if fish is a total no-go and you are worried about omega-3s, consider serving up wild rice as a side dish or eggs for breakfast. That way, the battle is avoided but the nutrition is achieved.
Another common issue is worrying about calcium intake when dairy is off the table. But, as vegans and lactose intolerance sufferers will tell you, there are plenty of alternatives. Leafy greens, sesame seeds, beans are all great sources of calcium. Even whey protein has calcium!
Consider Texture Rather Than Taste
It can often seem infuriating that someone can eat something one day, and then seemingly go off it again the week after. However, this can sometimes be down to texture rather than taste.
Try varying the ways you prepare your food to see if a texture is an issue – or take note if there are any patterns in foods that go down well. Some people hate chunky sauces and soups, for example, but would enjoy all that nutrition if the ingredients were served smooth.
Similarly, serving up sliced peppers as a snack can be popular, while slow-cooked peppers might be deemed “slimy”. Knowing the score can help you tailor your recipes to reduce issues.
Don’t Worry About Plates Being Cleared
While wasted food can be frustrating, try not to get too stressed about the thought of food you have prepared being uneaten. If you are the fussy eater but want to branch out, just challenge yourself to try a new food, rather than thinking you have to polish off a whole bowl of it.
The same applies to other fussy eaters that you are cooking for. If they eat at least some of the nutritious food you’ve made and give everything a try, resist the urge for criticism if there is still some left. Creating a calm mealtime environment can go a long way to making picky progress.
Pick Your Battles
A varied diet is a great way to keep a healthy lifestyle interesting. However, if your fussy eater is getting their essential nutrients, that’s the main thing. If you feel like you are missing out, use some meal prepping skills to add your favourite ingredients after you’ve prepared for everyone else.
If you have a spicy sauce that you would love to eat more often, bulk make it and store it in a jar or in the freezer. Then you can heat it up separately and add it to your dish while keeping fussy plates plain. That way, you don’t feel like you’re doing extra work every meal time OR missing out on tasty foods.