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Child being difficult about eating her food

Family holidays are unforgettable, especially travelling abroad. And while there is no denying that one of the greatest parts of worldwide travel is the culinary experience, young kids are notorious for being difficult eaters. Keep reading for a few tips on how to get the best food experience, even with a picky eater, or eaters, on your next family holiday.

Prepare their palette

If your child is a fussy eater and is difficult about trying new things, do not spring a new menu on them at the last minute. If you and your family are headed to Italy for a week, prepare a few pasta dishes at home beforehand so your kids have a chance to get used to the new food. If they still absolutely refuse it, then you at least know to avoid restaurants where only that food is available during your holiday.

Make meals kid-friendly

To keep holidays pleasant for everyone, be wary about taking kids to restaurants you know they will not enjoy. Instead of forcing them to try fish by going to a place that only offers seafood, opt for an eatery that has a kid’s meal, or at least a few options on the adult menu you know your child may be more interested in. This way you can stick to eating healthy while travelling, instead of relying on fast-food chains or vending machine snacks to avoid a fight and keep your family satisfied.

Set up a reward system

Do not be afraid to reward your kid when they adventure outside their typical pickiness. Maybe your child bravely tried traditional cuisine one night, so indulge them with their favourite food the next. Picking your battles wisely is key to a pleasant holiday when you have difficult eaters. Even though you want your children to get the full travel experience, you also want them to enjoy it, so a night or two of their favourite foods cannot hurt.

Eat early

Go out to dinner as early as possible. The more tired children are, the pickier and more difficult they can become. This is especially important if you are spending your days sight-seeing or adventuring outside for long periods of time. Not only will your kids be hungry from all the exploring, but they will definitely be in need of sleep. We all know that a young childwho is hungry and tired is a recipe for disaster. Things will go a lot smoother at meal time if you eat on the earlier side, rather than waiting for an 8pm dinner reservation.

Leave if you need to

Being on holiday should be relaxing and enjoyable, and it is important to keep in mind that you are not the only family on holiday. Other restaurant diners are entitled to the same pleasant experience you deserve. Some meals go better than others for little ones, so if you experience a tantrum while eating out, do not be afraid to leave. Declare meal time over, and use it as a teaching moment for your children.

Plan ahead

Before planning an exotic holiday with young kids, think about your destination choices and look to plan a trip to a location you know where the cuisine is not too unusual for children. Some of the best locations to visit when your child is a picky eater are:

  • Italy—considering the abundance of cheese and pasta available in Europe’s boot, there are few menu items here that children would not be willing to try.
  • Australia is a kid’s delight. Their diet has been heavily influenced by cultures all over the world, so it will be easy to find a safe dining option for children in the land down under.
  • England is a very safe option with all the basics for picky kids. England also has a variety of restaurants, so culinary adventures are not out of the question.
  • Major American cities such as New York or Las Angeles are also great destinations for small children because of the abundance of different types of cuisine. There is no doubt your kid will find something he or she enjoys in the assortment of restaurants offered in these locations.

Adventurous eating is not always the easiest task when dealing with small children, especially picky eaters. Make sure you do a lot of reassuring, encouraging and rewarding effort over result—a few bites is better than nothing. Whether your child is trying new foods or still sticking to favourites, one less thing you should have to worry about is being protected while abroad. Purchasing travel insurance to cover the whole family is a great way to ease your mind and know your loved ones are safe in case of emergencies.

Image courtesy of Flickr user David Goehring; cropped from original