Why serving up mushrooms (and other hated veg) is always a good idea.

Look, I know you want to avoid a meltdown at teatime. I know it’s easier to just stick a stack of cucumber battons on the side and get the job done. But don’t forget that one of the biggest principles of overcoming fussy eating is to keep exposing the fuss-meisters to their most hated foods.

Sounds counter-intuitive and a little bit like torture doesn’t it? And with a phrase like ‘repeated exposures’ it also sounds a little bit dodge… but it makes complete sense when you get your head around it.

So, let’s give it a crack:

Firstly - kids are really fickle - they may hate something one day and love it the next, so its a good idea to stay optimistic - one day affection may well be flipped.

Secondly - rejected foods keep disappearing! Once our kids reject something, we either stop bothering to serve it completely, or we hide it in blended sauces so the child never gets the chance to see it served in all its different guises. All they remember is that they hate it and there’s never the opportunity to challenge the stigma they have. The fact that they hate something just becomes a fact set in stone. So, to counter that, keeping the food visible and familiar instead of invisible will help to gain familiarity and increase the chances that they may chow down one day.

Also - seeing you and other people eating something they hate will also help to challenge the stigma they hold in their mind about how disgusting it is. If their best mate eats mushrooms, they surely can’t be that bad, right? Little by little, the food becomes less disgusting in their mind.

Finally - tolerating the smell, learning its name, chopping it, stirring it, splatting it on the floor (yes, that’s allowed to some degree) all builds familiarity and counts towards the ‘repeated exposures’ goal which will help increase the chances that they may try it one day. It might take until they’re 15, but it’s always in a forward direction.

One last thing…

If you’re going to keep serving up mushrooms (or any hated food) - in whatever format - it’s totally ok if the kids want to pick at it, make dramatic noises and disgusting faces. That’s ok - that’s their choice. You can only control you, so make a choice about how you’re going to react. Even when you’re insanely frazzled and fed up that they keep making rude comments about your food, it’s best if you don’t react with anything other than ambivalence. That way you can stay really calm and enjoy your own delicious meal whilst the kids explore the food with no pressure from you to eat. I have made all my favourite family recipes into a digital meal plan with quick links to fill your online shopping basket in a flash so you can create gorgeous family-friendly meals with hardly any effort. Find out more about The MasterPlan here.

And if you’d like to read more about fussy eating, there are more articles here.