Tackling fussy eating with the 21 day Co-op Food challenge + a healthy eating Twitter party

I came across an image this week which made me think “Yes! This is Belle! This is my life summed up in a postcard!”

This was it:

healthy eating tips
Does this sound familiar?

I had thought that by the age of 13, Belle would have grown out of her fussy eating. I imagined a gradual acceptance of onions in cooking, a growing fondness for courgettes, and friendly banter around the dining table where we looked back and laughed at her fussier days.

“How silly of me,” she would say, chomping her way through a kale salad, “to have been so fussy for all those years!”

Alas, that day has yet to come. Still, as a teenager, her list of acceptable vegetables is limited pretty much to:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Carrots
  • Spinach (raw, not cooked)

It’s not cool is it? The tricky bit for me lies in how far to push it. I appreciate that 50 years ago she would have just been made to sit at the table until she had finished, but we don’t live 50 years ago do we? We live in an era where ‘food issues’ are constantly on the horizon, especially with girls, and I worry that forcing her to eat something she doesn’t like will mean I’m responsible, later in life, for her crippling obesity/bulimia/inability to visit a supermarket without having a panic attack. (Delete as appropriate.)

Perhaps I just think about it too much.

I’ve decided though that the time has come to be a little more proactive about things. Being busy is no excuse for not making changes to our diet. I need to man up and remind Belle who’s boss. (I hope she doesn’t read this bit and shout at me.) The Co-op agreed to help me out with some ideas for recipes, snacks and easy switches, and so our 21 day food challenge begins. 

If your family diet could do with a kick up the bum, or that daily moan of ‘what’s for dinner?’ sends shivers down your spine, why not join me?

I’ve always been a fan of The Co-op. We’ve often had one just around the corner from us, which is very handy for me at 5pm when I still haven’t thought about what to have for tea, and I like their ethics, food wise. In theory it’s not hard to make changes; a handful of grapes here, a wedge of cucumber there – it shouldn’t take much to make a difference. The Co-op also have lots of recipe ideas, and plenty of Pinspiration.

healthy eating Pinterest

To kick start proceedings, I suggest keeping a diary of what your family eats for a few days. This was a horrible reality check for me, as I like to think I eat reasonably well. Oh how wrong I was. It’s shocking how easy it is to go a whole day and not eat any fruit…

This is a day from Belle’s diary, so you can see what I mean. (Please don’t report me to anyone):

  • Breakfast – a bowl of chocolate cereal, toast with butter, pineapple juice.
  • Packed lunch – cheese and ham sandwich, crisps, Babybel, yoghurt, satsuma, water. (I often find the fruit and three quarters of a bottle of water at the bottom of her school bag.)
  • After school snack – chocolate chip brioche.
  • Dinner – pasta (not wholemeal), sweetcorn, tinned tuna and pesto. Three chocolate truffles.

Now overall, it doesn’t feel hideous, fairly typical I would imagine, but let’s break it down…

I use the word chocolate three times. Not cool. Even counting the juice, she’s barely scraping two portions of fruit and vegetables on this day.

*takes a minute to reflect on parenting skills*

I then thought it might be a good idea, rather than just spying on what she ate, to ask Belle how she felt about her diet:

Over the next three weeks then we’ll be making an effort to eat better. This might be something as simple as switching from white to brown bread, or it might mean thinking more broadly about how we can encourage Belle to eat a wider variety of fruit and vegetables.

We’d love for you to join us, and share your tips and troubles as you progress, and to get you in the mood, we’re holding a Twitter chat this Tuesday at 1pm. Please RT the invitation and come along with your questions. Experts from The Co-operative will be on hand and I’ll be bringing 20 years of parenting wisdom/sympathy to the virtual table.

 In the meantime, please do leave a comment and tell me about the food issues in your family!



Project in partnership with The Co-operative Food.



  1. 2 October, 2015 / 10:37 pm

    I’ll be there – along with my wisdom *coughs*, which amounts to generally making sure that the kids have no idea that I am sneaking naughty stuff while they are at school! ;-)

    • Jo Middleton
      4 October, 2015 / 8:49 am

      Do as I say, not as I do Helen, it’s the first rule of parenting :-)

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