Fussy eater expert reveals tactics for influencing kids at meal time


“MY kids can never find their shoes, but they find a tiny piece of onion in their dinner immediately.”

These words resonate well with many parents today, and a study done just last month shed light on the prevalence of struggles parents have at mealtime.

Popular meal kit delivery service HelloFresh spearheaded the survey as they kicked off a campaign that will even get some help from Parramatta locals.

Their nationwide study found just about half of the parents surveyed used bribes on kids, and threats of taking away privileges to influence their fussy eaters.

Nearly one third of those surveyed admitted to serving veggies in a fun shape to make them more appealing, and just over half confessed to hiding veggies in food. A majority said they deal with fussy eaters in their kids, and four in five have experienced their kids refusing to eat dinner.

The research further revealed 68 percent of parents cook separate meals or change the main family meal, with 77 percent saying they spend up to 45 minutes more in the kitchen each night to satisfy their brood.

Kids giving food a good royal snub has caused emotional angst in 35 percent of parents, who have been frustrated over food waste, and 31 percent feeling upset after spending time preparing a good meal.

Best-selling author Dr Justin Coulson, who is one of Australia’s leading gurus in influencing ‘fussy eaters’, said these methods of getting kids to eat the food you cook have good intentions, but can fail in the long run.

“As parents, we all want our kids to be fed delicious, healthy meals they’ll enjoy eating, but for families with fussy eaters, this isn’t an easy challenge,” Doctor Coulson said.  “The good news is, the majority of children grow out of it, and it’s important to establish healthy behaviours and habits from early on to help guide them through.”

“Getting the kids in the kitchen and involved in the meal selection and preparation process is a great place to start. And rather than being tempted to cook a separate meal for the kids, turning to a meal-kit service like HelloFresh can be a lifesaver.”

HelloFresh partnered with Doctor Coulson, to launch its inaugural Family Favourites Awards to give Aussie parents a hand at dinnertime.

A review was done of the most popular meals ordered through the food delivery service, and our very own Dundas locals Alissa Buda and her family were picked to be part of the national judging panel.

And the winners are …

  • Best tasting recipe for kids: classic chicken parmigiana
  • Best recipe to cook with kids: Caribbean pork rissoles and wedges
  • Best kid-approved veggie-packed recipe: creamy Indian chicken curry

So what else did the survey say about what kids really want?

The results may not surprise.  A partiality to pasta was well noted, with 83 percent of participants saying it was the all time favourite meal for their kids. Tacos came in third at 59 percent, and burgers sandwiched in between at 68 percent.  Schnitzel and curries were also ranked high.

The survey was taken across Australia from a sample of over 1000 parents with kids between 5-14 years.

IMAGE: Dundas locals Alissa Buda and her family were picked to be part of the national judging panel.


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