#8 Embrace self-service
‘If you have a picky eater, adopt the American “family style” of eating,’ says Jo. ‘Serve the food in bowls in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves. So, if you were having a curry, you might have a bowl of rice, a bowl of chicken pieces and a bowl of sauce.’ Make sure there is something that your child would eat in one of those bowls, even if it means cooking an extra bowl of peas. But don’t make it overwhelming by offering too many choices.
‘There’s a famous American dietician called Ellyn Satter (ellynsatterinstitute.org), who talks about the “division of responsibility” when it comes to feeding children,’ says Jo. ‘The idea is that it’s the parents’ responsibility to decide when meals are served, where those meals are eaten and which foods are offered, but it’s the child’s responsibility to decide whether to eat and how much to eat.’ So, as the parent, you should offer up a healthy, nutritious and varied diet, but let your child pick what he wants to eat from what’s in front of him. ‘He may just go for rice, but he’s seeing and smelling the sauce and the chicken, and he’s watching you eat it,’ says Jo. ‘That is building his awareness of those foods, making them more familiar and – over time – this will encourage him to try them.’