Friday 28 June 2019

Tips for going on holiday with a fussy eater

We have been blessed with a child that is a fussy eater. At home he eats a reasonable amount across the food groups, so I'm happy with his diet in general, but the trouble is that not only will he not try new food when out and about, he also won't eat food which isn't exactly like the food he eats at home. So he'll quite happily eat a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast at home, but is suspicious of a different brand of bagel or spread if he sees it in a breakfast buffet.

Family tips for travelling with a fussy eater

This can be frustrating at times, because we travel and stay away from home a fair bit, and we definitely don't want to limit ourselves to self-catering holidays in this country every time.

To a certain extent we don't stress too much about it. I do feel that it's not the end of the world if he only eats bread, butter and ice cream for a week while we're away, as I know that I can feed him up again when we get home. But sometimes we go away for a bit longer and it can be annoying when we are out and about and can't find anything that he will eat, and of course it can feel like quite a waste of money when he returns from an extensive buffet with a few slices of cucumber and a bit of bread on his plate.

So here are a few tips that we've picked up over the years, to make things easier for all of us when travelling with a fussy eater:

When booking

Think about what you will eat while away. An accommodation option with a buffet is usually a good choice, or you may want to stick with self-catering and the option of eating out from time to time.

Some types of holiday, for example a cruise, will allow you to take food back to your room, so you can take extra from a buffet and always have a snack or drink in the room to rely on. Check if your room will have a fridge for storing a wider variety of food.

Suss out shopping and restaurant options near where you'll be staying to make sure that there is somewhere you can get something to eat when you need to. For example a cafe where you can pick up a simple breakfast that you know will be eaten, or a supermarket for buying snacks.

When packing

Take some favourite food with you from home. You'll need to check carefully the restrictions for countries that you are travelling to, but generally if food is factory sealed in its original packaging then it will be fine to take in your luggage. We often pack biscuits, plain fajita wraps, breakfast cereals, cereal bars, bread sticks and so on.

Pack sandwich bags, plastic snack boxes and a knife (in your checked luggage). This way you can buy food at the supermarket to make sandwiches for lunch, cut up fruit, and prepare other snacks that your child will eat. This also saves money on buying food that won't be eaten while you are out! Depending on your holiday arrangements you might even want to take more cutlery and plastic plates or bowls with you so that you can eat your own food comfortably in a hotel room.

If you are travelling by plane, prepare your own food and snacks for the journey, or eat at the airport before you leave. This goes for adults too - I'm less fussy than I used to be but I've quite often been served a meal on the plane that doesn't take my fancy at all and been grateful for the pizza that I ate before boarding.

While you are away

When you arrive, stock up on snacks that you can keep in the room or the fridge if you have one. Look for portable options that you can take around with you.

Always carry snacks and a drink in your day bag. That way if you are stopping for a meal and your child can't find anything that they like you'll be able to keep them going until you can find something.

If you will need to find somewhere to eat out, make a plan in advance and line up some suitable options. This might be the same chain restaurant that you eat at when you're at home - maybe not that exciting but worth it if it reduces the tension!

And finally don't get too stressed about it. We relax the rules a little bit and we aren't too strict about, for example, demanding that a meal is finished before dessert, as long as something filling has been eaten. We also heap on the praise for trying something new, even if they only have a tiny bit, and we reinforce how important it is to fill themselves up so that they'll be able to enjoy themselves. Then when we get home I'll cook favourite meals for a few days to fill them back up!

Child eating at open air terrace on holiday

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