Combatting fussy eating with harmonious routines at the dinner table

Would you rather sweat cheese or vomit marbles?

What’s your favourite dinosaur?

Beach or forest?

Wellies or Flip flops?

What would you change about your school if you were in charge for the day?

How do bananas grow?


Mealtimes can often be the most stressful time of the day for parents with young children. It’s hardly surprising when the dinner table is a battleground for arguments about sitting, eating, manners and much, much more.

Regardless of what the root causes are, how can you combat the stress? If you read up on fussy eating, the volume of advice can make your head spin, so here’s a zoom in on just one element I really think makes a big difference:


Now, I find asking my elder two boys how their school day was produces very stunted and, let’s face it, dull chat. Of course, they’re developing the ability to take turns, reciprocate questions, listen and maybe even, provide follow-up questions, but the topic of school is a little less inspiring than I require.

So, I need to throw some questions in from the left field. And, the really cool part of this is that funny and interesting conversation has so many benefits to the family - not least the way it helps produce positivity for fussy eaters at the table because hey become relaxed and have an opportunity to drive the conversation the way they want. It can also mean that for every positive experience they associate with mealtimes, they are more likely to sit down without a fuss on future occasions. And I often find that if one of my kids is showing reluctance to join us at the table, a really wacky conversation starter can lure them up to the table like a mega-magnet - they may not eat anything, but they got closer to the food and in any situation, that’s a win.

Depending on the ages of your children, you may need to ask a variety of different topics that interest each one, but you may also be able to find one topic that interests everyone. And once they’ve got the hang of answering the questions - they will definitely enjoy thinking up their own questions too. You can help reword them if needed.

Either way, it’s an absolutely lovely way to interact, develop in-jokes and get a strong sense of the family as well as tackle the issue of fussy eating. Laughter surely is the best medicine!

I have been working on a set of questions - I will keep adding to them and I’d love to hear some more ideas from you, but you can find some conversation ideas