You have been planning this vacation for quite a while. Everything has run as planned… up until now. Little Clara won’t consider anything as food until it is pre-tested by the cast of Frozen. She won’t eat, throws a tantrum, and everyone is staring.

Admit it, you have been dreading this moment from the beginning of your trip. Cajoling has already proven to be futile. Family members are beginning to get frustrated and you are feeling helpless and hopeless.

For parents with children who are terribly picky eaters, stressful mealtimes are a norm. And the gruelling battle continues until their palates mature (don’t worry, it will eventually happen) and they start accepting regular nutritious food as food. However, between now and then, here are tips to avoid the making a scene at every mealtime, especially during the family outings.

1. Prepare in Advance

Picky eaters are generally reluctant to put new and unfamiliar food in their mouths at first. So don’t be surprised if they are not willing to touch anything new. Do some research and preparation before your trip. Try introducing some local flavours of your destination into your cooking so that they can familiarise themselves with the flavour profile of the local cuisine through repeated exposure. 

Adding an element of fun will also get them accustomed to the new cuisine. Make the dining experience more exciting by using colourful ingredients. Being creative in the presentation of each dish may also make the cuisine more attractive. They might even take a liking to it through recurrent exposure.

2. Give Them Choices

Naturally, kids are curious - so let them explore the city too! So let them choose a restaurant from time to time. Involving them in this manner increases the likelihood that they’ll find something that they’ll enjoy. You can help by explaining what choices are available and giving them a brief description about the types of food on the menu. You might even be pleasantly surprised by the outcome!

3. Stay in Control and be Firm when Necessary

Be assertive and do not allow any negotiation when your children say no to the food they have selected. If you lose control of your temper, you lose control of the situation - so stay calm. Although it can be difficult to say “no” to our kids just to avert the meltdown, it is important to have them understand that they should take responsibility for their own choices, and that’s a good life lesson in itself! Go about the situation imperturbably and communicate that if they don’t finish what they had picked, they would have to wait until the next meal to eat. Let them decide whether or not they want to go without food for a couple of hours.  


4. On Occasion, Junk Food is Okay 

Don’t be mortified if they go about their fussiness unapologetically. Some kids are stubborn or strong willed (depending on your view). But until they realise you mean business, remember that you are all on a vacation after all, and everyone deserves their share of fun. 

Defer to your children’s choice of cuisine once in a while, whether it is fried chicken or burgers from  a fast food restaurant. Happy kids equals a happy family!

Travel broadens the horizons for both adults and kids. With exposure to new cultures and new tastes, you may be surprised that they might actually take a liking to something when you least expected them to. Rest assured that picky eating is a passing phase, and you will surely see your fussy kids convert into foodies soon. Just keep calm, be creative and experiment on!

Contributed by Trip 101. A one-stop travel guide for travel enthusiasts around the world. Practical guides, reviews and tips are created by travel experts, digital nomads and travel bloggers, providing inspirational and useful information to help facilitate travel in a fun and meaningful manner.