Just because you're
psyched to try crawfish in New Orleans or jerk pork in Jamaica doesn't mean your picky eater will suddenly renounce her chicken nuggets diet—and that's OK. "You don't want to make your vacation a battleground," says seasoned traveler and mom of four Nancy Solomon of CiaoBambino.com
. "The point is to relax, have fun and enjoy new experiences together. And if your child discovers a love for gourmet cheese, that's great, but it's not essential." Use these tips to ensure that everyone has a happy meal while you're away, no matter how far you are from a Happy Meal.
Pack provisions. Always bring along nutritious foods that you know your kid will eat. "Kids aren't any less picky when they're starving," Solomon says. She totes instant oatmeal packets, a jar of peanut butter, Ritz crackers, dry cereal, Balance Bars and boxes of shelf-stable chocolate milk.
Split the difference. There's nothing more annoying than shelling out $20 for a bowl of plain pasta—or worse, a meal your kid simply refuses to eat. Accept the fact that not everyone needs to fill up in the same spot. "I'd rather pick up a sandwich for my fussy eater beforehand so the rest of us can go to a restaurant we'll really enjoy," says Solomon.
Eat picnic-style. Head to the farmers market, neighborhood food vendors or other fresh-foods market and have everyone choose a few foods for a family picnic. "You're interacting with the local culture, it's fun and even the pickiest eaters are happy with their meals," Solomon says.
Ask for special treatment. Solomon thinks the kids' menu is for the birds. "Kids can't eat fried foods for five days straight—they'll be sick," she says. "Especially when they're traveling, you have to make sure they eat a balanced diet." Feel free to ignore the kids' menu and mix things up: Order appetizers as meals, half portions of entrees, or variations on the meal, like grilled chicken without the sauces and sides.
Make a personal menu. Sit down with your picky Ricky and come up with a list of foods by category—think veggies, fruits, meats, etc.—that he WILL eat. Then make a deal: If foods from the list show up on a menu, he can't say there's nothing there to eat! "This was an eye-opener for my son," Solomon says. "It was like, 'Wow, I guess I don't just eat mac 'n' cheese!'"
Focus on family. The dinner table isn't just about food, it's about being together. Talk about what you said and what you did, even if someone isn't even eating. As a bonus, picky eaters are more likely to try new foods when they feel comfortable and happy. So as you laugh about the moment a pigeon landed on Dad's head or that time everyone got soaked in a downpour, you might just see your child reach for a red-bean dumpling—and like it.report abuse