5 Simple Ways You Can Help Your Fussy Eating Teenager

Having your food rejected daily is more than a little bit frustrating. It can also be baffling when your child shows signs of fussy eating despite you being a lover of all kinds of food.

Dealing with a fussy eating teenager is a stressful affair.

Having your food rejected daily is more than a little bit frustrating. It can also be baffling when your child shows signs of fussy eating despite you being a lover of all kinds of food.

It is considered to be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting as every meal-time raises the issue. Suddenly it has become a daily point of conflict and stress for the entire family.

Dealing with a fussy eating teenager is particularly challenging. When your children are small there is always the reassuring fact that they are changing rapidly every single day and their diet could change just as easily.  

When our young children display signs of fussy eating we hope that it’s part of a phase or connected to a developmental leap and there is something very comforting about those possibilities. With teenagers, it can be difficult to know what the best approach is. They are very vocal about their likes and dislikes and many are not open to any kind of change. But they are absolutely not a lost cause. So many adults change their eating habits in their twenties, thirties and beyond.  

There is always a reason to try to encourage your teenager's diet to improve but the way you approach the topic may be a little bit different. Here are 5 simple ways you can help your fussy eating teenager:

1. Encourage regular family meals

Does your teenager tend to eat alone later in the evening? Does their dinner often visit the microwave before they eat it? Eating with the family could make a big difference. Sharing the joy of food is a lot easier when you are with the people you love. It will normalise the idea of family meals and will put them side by side foods they typically avoid. It might just make them curious too. If mealtimes are happy positive experiences your teen is more likely to want to be part of that.

2. Try to fill the home with healthy snacks

If the cupboards are full of biscuits, crisps and sweets then fruit, nuts and yoghurt won’t seem one bit appealing. If you eliminate the junk food hunger will prevail and encourage healthier choices. Half the battle is that teenagers are not hungry at meal times due to constant snacking throughout the day. This leads to meals being reheated and food is always nicer when it’s fresh.

3. Applying pressure will undermine your teenager and affect their confidence

Gently encouraging is a lot more effective than dictating. You can provide a supportive ear and establish the positives associated with making dietary changes but coming at it from an angry perspective will encourage a battle of wills. If your child wants to talk about it then lend a caring ear but respect their silence if they do not want to talk about it. This will give them the confidence to open up if they feel they want to.

4. Don’t make several dinners

It’s not sustainable to make several different dinners each day. If you know your teenager won’t eat the main then make sure the side dishes are options they will enjoy. It is a happy medium and you are catering for everyone on some level without being a personal chef. This may encourage your child to try new things if they are hungry enough.

5. Don’t get hung up on vegetables

If it feels like a lost cause you might focus a little more on including whole-grains and focusing on other elements of healthy eating. Every change is a positive step in the right direction.

What are your top tips for encouraging your fussy eating teenager to eat well?

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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