"Mum! I’m hungry" and other dreaded summer holiday phrases - Sarah Alder

Wherever you're headed or whatever staycation activities you’ve got planned, reading my top tips for enjoying a stress-free summer of food needs to be on your holiday prep list.

You could be in the holiday destination of your dreams with the perfect weather, amazing accommodation and some incredible memory making activities planned, but if you're child refuses to eat once you're there, is throwing hanger tantrums and is utterly exhausted from the lack of food, then that's going to turn your relaxing break into a hugely stressful one.

It's been a while since many of us have been able to take a proper holiday. This summer is our first chance to really let loose so let’s not allow the food to put pay to the good times.

Be prepared

When you're on holiday, one question worse than 'are we nearly there yet?' is 'Mum, can I have something to eat?' when it's been asked for the billionth time!

Get ahead of the game by spending some time over the next few weeks getting organised.

Gather a stash of easy to grab snack items as well as batch prepare some healthy and sustaining snacks (I’ve plenty of recipes for you to choose from on my website such as savoury and fruit muffins, homemade Nakd bars, energy balls, yoghurt and fruit bark, smoothies that can be turned into ice lollies). These will help balance out the chips and ice cream diet (which we just need to be at peace with over those few weeks of holiday).

If you’re staying home, plan some time to cook (or add some extra batch cooks into your meal plans) and fill the fridge/freezer before the holidays or work out a couple of times during the holiday when you can cook a load of meals, so you don’t have to come back after a day out and cook. You can be flexible with your day and be safe in the knowledge that you’ve got dinner covered.

If you’re going away, planning in some down time at your accommodation allows your child to relax and hopefully eat something substantial. Planning your day and meals around this down time can be useful and helps keep costs down, perhaps eating out for two meals and having one ‘picnic’ meal where you are staying.

Go with the flow

I help pretty much every parent I work with to implement a meal and snack schedule for their children because it’s one of the best ways to help them to eat well.

But, when you’re on holiday, some more flexibility is usually needed. Being somewhere unfamiliar, out of sleep and daytime routines, in a different climate, surrounded by strange people and voices can be overwhelming for children and this can impact on their ability to eat.

Let go of the schedule and allow your child to eat when they feel they need it. Having done your prep before the holidays means you’ll have plenty to offer in addition to any favourite fruits and veggies you can throw into the mix.

It can make all the difference both to them getting on board the fuel they need but also to how much you can enjoy your day and meals.

If you’ve got a meal and snack schedule established before the holiday, it’s easy to get straight back into it once routines return to normal.

Please drink

Encourage your child to drink water as often as possible (a straw can help get more down) but if they’re not eating well, freshly squeezed orange juice (with the bits) and smoothies will help with hydration as well as provide some energy and fibre to keep the hanger and constipation at bay. Sucking on ice cubes (whilst monitored) is not only fun but also a sneaky way of getting water in.

There’s more to eating than the food

Making mealtimes fun and sociable distracts children from the pressure of having to eat. Eating whilst on holiday offers plenty of opportunities to spot new or different things, to talk about these as well as learn about a different culture and language, so use this to your advantage.

Games of eye spy, counting how many people are wearing hats, encouraging them to order their own drink, asking for the bill, tapping the card for payment or handing over some cash will entertain them and helps keep them seated and maybe even tasting something different whilst waiting to do their important job!

Ease up

We can very easily put pressure on ourselves to create the ideal holiday for our family then when things inevitably don’t go to plan some days, we can feel deflated, frustrated and upset. Let’s lower our expectations, reduce the pressure on ourselves and go with the flow. It’s only a few weeks and if we’ve laid the foundations at home for healthy and happy mealtimes before the holiday, it’s easy to slip right back into good habits, whilst allowing us to enjoy the holiday.

Taking the pressure off at mealtimes reduces our stress, allows us to be calm and relaxed and sets the right environment for our children to explore more foods. Food is scary for some children, so food in an unfamiliar environment can be even more challenging, even if that’s a food they’d normally eat well at home.

It’s helpful to remember that you are responsible for providing food on a regular basis and that your child is responsible for what and how much of that they eat. At mealtimes, remember these magic words “you don’t have to eat it” as they will support your child and you might be surprised by just how much more they may be willing to try.

Wherever you’re headed and whatever activities you’ve planned for this summer, have a great holiday.

Sarah Alder of Kitchen Titbits, is a family mealtimes mentor; helping parents transform mealtimes from stressful to stress-free.

She specialises in working with parents on the practical aspects of family mealtimes. She will help you to support your fussy eater to develop a love of food and your child to eat a wider variety of foods, but also work with you on how the whole family can have fun at mealtimes and enjoy quality family time together whilst sharing food or cooking together.

She combines this with teaching key skills around meal planning and reducing food waste to help you feel more organised and in control in the kitchen, making best use of your time, energy and ingredients. Whilst her cookery sessions build confidence and her recipes provide inspiration, helping you answer that age old question of ‘what’s for dinner?’.

To find out more about Sarah, her courses, workshops and online courses, visit her website.

You can also follow Sarah on social media:




And she shares her tips and advice in her free Facebook group

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