I get a lot of emails from worried parents about puddings, like this one from last week:
Our four-year-old daughter eats a few mouthfuls of the main course as she knows pudding is on its way. Help!
‘Holding out’ for pudding is a common problem with fussy eaters. So here are my Golden Rules of the best way to approach puddings.
1. Serve puddings occasionally, not every day
Your aim should be to serve pudding once in a while – an unexpected surprise, rather than something your child can rely on. This way they won’t be able to use pudding as an alternative to the main course. More importantly, you won’t be training their palate to end every meal on a sweet note (how many adults brought up on daily puddings say they don’t feel a meal is complete without a pudding?!). A sweet tooth makes tackling fussy eating more difficult.
2. Make fruit available after every meal
However, The Getting the Little Blighters to Eat approach to fussy eating is not about Tough Love! You don’t want to send your child to bed hungry. So, fruit – including bananas, which are more filling – should always be available to your child after dinner. If you’ve been giving them puddings every day, phase them out gradually. For example, start by serving their yoghurt in a bowl with some fruit next to it. Then slowly increase the fruit and decrease the yoghurt.
3. Don’t rush for pudding
Take it easy. Wait until the rest of the family have come to a natural end with their main course. Leave a gap. This will give time for your child to revisit their main course of their own accord – even absent-mindedly – if they are sitting there with it in front of them for a while.
4. Don’t use pudding as a bribe or a threat
Never ever say to your child If you eat all your dinner, you can have pudding or If you don’t eat your dinner, you can’t have pudding. Even if it sometimes works, what you’re teaching your child is this:
PUDDING IS YUMMY. MAIN COURSE IS NOT SO YUMMY – IT’S JUST SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO ENDURE TO GET TO THE NICE BIT.
Actually a totally lousy message to give a fussy eater, right?!