This post is reprinted from my February 15, 2011 column on Mount Vernon Patch.

My middle son, Jacques, is an adventurous eight-year-old who likes nothing more than going mountain biking and camping in the woods.  When it comes to eating, however, he considers eating the crust of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich to be a culinary adventure.  I think it’s something he and some of his friends at school will only do on a dare.  The rest of the family loves to eat and try new foods, so I try to find ways to keep him in good nutrition while serving interesting foods for the rest of us.

When we went to Europe last summer (Belgium, France, and Germany), I knew we’d be facing uphill battles when it comes to food.  I’m happy to report that not only did he eat enough to survive the trip, he came back with some appreciation for European food.  Here’s what I learned from this and other trips with Jacques:

  • Get them excited: Research the cuisine before you leave on your trip and find something that you know your picky eater will just love (the croissants in Paris, for example) to get him excited about the trip and qualm some of his anxieties about eating there.
  • Stock up on what they like: Whenever possible, rent a vacation home instead of getting a hotel room (I will write another article about that one!)  That way, you can stock up on foods that you know they’ll eat.  In our rental house in the Loire Valley and our rental apartment in Paris, we stocked up on cheese, yoghurt, bread and fruit, and pasta (and wine for my husband and I, of course!)
  • Let them eat bread: Do go out to eat in typical restaurants.  Don’t fret about one child refusing to eat anything but bread and a glass of milk, or a side of white rice.  It’s just a meal.
  • Let them choose at least one outing: We let our picky eater choose a couple of restaurants.  It was pizza and it was delicious!

We enjoyed the food on our vacation and even had a few memorable meals.   Jacques still raves about those Paris croissants!