Mealtimes need a method

02:49, Apr 28 2014

I can see a vicious circle playing out in our living room in the coming weeks. It'll partly be a battle of wits but it will also be a battle of attrition. Well, nutrition, actually.

The last man/boy standing will win, but in reality it's a war that no-one really wants to fight. But the time has come to resolve this issue.

I've lamented before about how children, despite your best intentions and efforts, end up being almost polar opposites, like yin and yang. That's what it feels like with our two at the moment.

In one corner we've got a little madam who will eat almost anything put in front of her and now insists on feeding herself, all of the time.

That does mean I finally get to eat hot porridge again (with partly melted brown sugar), rather than a slightly congealed rubber material with dissolved sugar because I don't have to feed her first - but there's more mess.

Which isn't appreciated in the morning while we're trying to beat Harry's mum to preschool every morning. (I should point out that she doesn't know we're in a race, and me winning it doesn't happen that often, but I do take some special pride in getting there before her - she's only got one to get ready in the morning, you see.)


On the other hand, we've got a 3 1/2-year-old who refuses to eat anything for dinner that isn't bread, white potatoes, crumbed fish/chicken/ sausages, and the occasional pile of peas and/or corn.

He won't eat carrots: "I don't love carrots"; kumara: "I don't love orange potatoes"; pasta: "I don't love pasta"; or anything else you can think of. He even turns his nose up at big easter eggs and marshmallow ones: "I don't love them".

Attempts have been made to bribe, cajole, coerce and threaten him to convince him to try new food. He just refuses. Remember this is the boy I had to hold down to force him to try icecream in the hope that could be used as a bribe. Sure, he now likes icecream but it's not a dealbreaker when it comes to negotiations.

So tonight he ended up being given the choice of trying his dinner or getting in the shower and going to bed. Short version, he was in bed, quite early.

The problem is, and this is where the vicious circle is likely to start, he's probably going to wake up "hangry". That's angry because he's hungry.

So he'll pack a big grump until he gets breakfast but when it comes to dinnertime it's likely he'll still be grumpy because he's behind a meal, if you get my drift. And the cycle will begin again.

Meanwhile his sister will have polished off her dinner, his leftovers, some fruit and some treats . . . and be looking for more. Even the cat's bowl isn't safe.

So dear readers, I would like to hear from you.

This isn't about hiding vegetables in lasagne (he'd never try that) - it's about getting him to actually try new foods.

Have you had this problem? What methods did you try? And what actually worked? I'd love to hear from you - email me at Please.

I'll try your ideas and report back next week. Wish me luck.

* Mark Hotton is a fulltime journalist/ fulltime dad who fancies himself as something of a gourmet but gets disappointed at the unimaginative meals he produces for his son.


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