Do you pander to a fussy eater in your family? 238



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The last time your grandchildren came to visit, did they come complete with their very own meal plan? Or perhaps a list of what not to feed them because they don’t like it? Nothing green, nothing with seeds on top, no meat in big chunks, nothing that smells or looks a bit funny!

When I was growing up Mum’s mealtime mantra was this – “Eat what you’re given or you go without”. It’s the same mantra she learned from her father at the dinner table where there were nine hungry mouths to feed and being fussy about food was absolutely not an option.

Try enforcing that kind of motto these days with the child who is a fussy eater and see how far you get.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone thinks we’re raising a generation of fussy easters and he upset more than a few parents by suggesting it recently.

In Australia to promote his new book Good Food, Good Life, the father of two essentially blamed slack parenting for kids not eating healthy food.

“Your kid is going to embrace whatever you expose them to, right, that’s just a fact of life,” Stone reportedly said.

Curtis later back-pedalled telling the Nine Network’s Today Show his kids sometimes eat junk food like tacos but never hotdogs. And his advice to parents was not to give in too quickly when kids refuse to eat fruit and vegetables or demand foods that aren’t nutritious.

“I think you can make better choices as a parent. If you make your kids go a little longer without a meal, I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world”.

With Australia’s growing obesity epidemic can we as parents or grandparents afford to ‘cave in’ to kids who are fussy eaters?

The National Heart Foundation’s latest research on obesity and physical activity in Australia paints a very grim picture. According to new statistics released this week for National Heart Week, 27.5% of Australian adults are obese and 57% of them are physically inactive.

Based on the size of our growing waistline, surely we can’t keep following the path of poor nutrition.

Admittedly, despite mum’s best intentions, there were a few foods I detested as a child and I wasn’t always forced to eat them – broad beans, brussels sprouts and spinach were on my banned list.


How about you?  What did your diet look like when you were a child? Were you made to eat everything on your plate, even the food you didn’t like? 

Would you agree with celebrity chef Curtis Stone? Are we raising a generation of fussy eaters?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. No. My son disliked corn but ate it anyway. My daughter was I’ll and I thought tomato soup might be good. She threw it up and still can’t eat it, however I didn’t make them eat anything, I simply put the plate down a,and said eat and they did. They only had Mac Donalds twice a year on birthdays. Kentucky if they were with my parents. I’m a good cook and made everything tasty. I never had them screw up their noses at anything. Their adults now and if they don’t eat some things I’m sure its not cooked the way I did.

    4 REPLY
    • ditto, i say bring back cooking as a “subject” at school for a few years like we had and it was called Domestic Art and we loved it, we learned about nutrition and how the body works etc ove a 3 yr period… My grand daughter in yr 8 is starting to do this but not often… cooking, but we have done that for years together anyway…. I think if children get involved they begin to see that the food is good and not that yukky thing they are forced to eat… My son and I both eat everything and people are sometimes amazed and say “is there anything you dont like
      and I truly cant say really….. get them involved in cooking I say and things will change…. too many choices these days….

    • That’s it. Its so simple, if they help you they start to realise your not trying to poison them and the smells encourage hunger. Mine thought eating was the best fun and as adults they still do.

    • Wascalled domestic science when I went to school. Didn’t just cover cooking but all aspects of housekeeping!

    • Me too John, dont think my Mum was too keen on eating what I took home but I always ate what she cooked so she ate mine,even if it didn’t look quite so appetising !!

  2. I have never forced my children to eat things they didn’t like because I felt meal times should be a place of pleasant family conversation and not a battle field. I also feel that meals are made with love

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  3. It’s always been this way fussy eaters as children and as they get older their tastebuds change.

  4. My mum used reverse bribery. If you can’t eat your meal then you can’t have dessert. Since we always had great desserts (usually home cooked baked goods, pies, tarts, puddings etc etc ) we learnt that we had to make a sacrifice to avoid eating our food. The only exception was if we really couldn’t eat something then we always got another vegetable that we could eat. For example I always threw up mashed potatoes so I would get mashed pumpkin or some other vege.

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    • always the if you dont eat it no dessert or if you dont eat it you will stay there till you do or eat it for breakfast….lol

    • My brothers and I grew up eating whatever was put in front of us. My parents couldn’t afford to cater to different demands. Now our kids were brought up the same

    • never argued with mum; she and dad worked too hard to provide for us; mum had strategies – no dessert was one. I remember her sprinkling sugar on lettuce to get one of my brothers to eat it. I always thought he was a wusss… I hated lambs fry and tripe, but, since my dad liked them we had them every now and again. I can remember threatening to throw up tripe because it was “choking” me; not sure now if I got away with that

    • We only had dessert at weekends and on special occasions, so that didn’t work. Mum relied mainly on hunger after failing to get me to eat my beans (apart from those I did eat everything).

    • We always had cooked desserts to fill up hungry stomachs. With my Dad who was a labourer and my three very large brothers it took quite a lot to fill them up. With home grown Veges and fruit they filled out the meals with very cheap baked puddings and desserts

  5. Yes
    Her name is Zoe. She has four legs and a long tail a soft white fluffy fur and the most soulful eyes that can make you do anything she wants.

  6. As a grandparent, I believe we have the right to cater to our grand children’s separate tastes. That way they look forward to coming to grandma’s house. Parents are there to teach and discipline the children.
    My granddaughter knows she gets spoiled at my house but also knows she doesn’t try it on at home. At home she eats what she gets.

    1 REPLY
    • Well thats another way to look at it and fair I suppose. I presume you would check with the parents to see they would eat everything they get? I just have a problem with letting kids have their way negativily, but then again I am not a grandmother and not likely to be for some time to come if ever. So who am I to comment…mmmm

  7. Oh yeah, I can remember sitting at the kitchen table for about 2 hours ( felt like 2 days ) till I finished my tea. Dad said I couldn’t leave the table until it I ate all my dinner. Don’t think I did eat it all ….

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    • yes I was in an institutional home about 8yrs old (no pension in my mums day) and that old bitch who ran the house used to make me sit there until I got down the cold congealed tripe, would be there for hours and swore I would never do that to my son which I didn’t.
      I made a deal with my son when he was young that he had to have a spoon of everything on the plate (I am a great cook so nothing too bad anyway) and if he didnt want it then there would be nothing else that night. He didn’t starve. I would NEVER make him sit & eat a cold congealed meal, if I couldn;t I would not expect him to.
      I did however make sure he had a big filling nutricious meal next morning if he didnt eat much the night before.

  8. We had a policy when our children were growing up that they needed to taste it. If they did not like it, it would not be put on their plate. We did not find out until our son was almost an adult that he did not like cooked tomatoes. He never complained.

  9. If I didn’t like something I got nothing else. I made a deal with my son when he went through his fussy stages to have one spoon of everything I would not push him to eat the lot. He found that he quite liked some things once he tried it.
    I would then try to hide that vege some other way, Found stews were the best as it breaks everything down & he couldn’t identify a particular thing he thought he didn’t like.
    If I had grandchildren who came over with a list of things I would NOT give in & would in fact cook those things in a nice way, if they didn’t like it then they got nothing else. This is why kids are fussy we give in to them all the time. They won’t starve you know. The next day they will be hungry & forget.

    6 REPLY
    • Agree totally Kay Eller. Needs to be more folks like you. It’s called tough love. I was brought up on it. Just in case you haven’t guessed my daughter was brought up that way too. I can’t abide fussy eaters. It drives me nuts!

    • I know I am most probably too hard sometimes but before I had my son I worked with a girl who’s mother used to cook a different meal for her two daughter & her husband, so she could cook maybe 4 different meals a night? Ludicrious so I made a vow I would never do that.
      If my son really didn’t like something as we don’t always like everything, I would not serve it again (or maybe hide it is stews if i thought he needed it. He just to at east try & have a teaspoonful. Which I thought fair.

    • Didn’t get a choice and didn’t argue. I believe it was respect for our parents and their financial circumstances.

    • Yes Chris Hepper it was respect and there was no point in arguing. There were no options except ‘take it or leave it’!

    • I was made to eat turnips , sweed Choco every conceivable vegetable , had to sit at the table until it was all gone , used to heave .. Didn’t do that to my children and would never do it to my grandchildren ,

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