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Games for Fussy Eaters

Is This the Answer to Fussy Eating?

We were as surprised as anyone when Tam Fry, head spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum and a leading obesity campaigner, suggested bribing kids with cash to encourage them to eat their greens.

Although the method might work, it’s hardly setting the right example. Surely there’s a better way of getting youngsters to finish their broccoli, asparagus or peas? And maybe the process can be fun rather than frustrating.

Introducing the Gotrovo Mealtime Treasure Hunt

Created by mums and inspired by children, the Gotrovo Mealtime Treasure Hunt Dinner Set represents an appealing alternative to emptying your purse every time food hits the table. After all, how long will it take for kids to renegotiate the terms of the deal? It’s quite comical, really. “How much,” smirks your apple-cheeked progeny, “is my eating this stalk of celery worth to you?”

Aiming to make mealtimes synonymous with adventure, the treasure hunt is also presented as a potential solution to temper tantrums at the dining table, instilling good mealtime behaviour and incentivising kids to eat healthy, nutritionally balanced food. So how does this ‘dinner set with a difference’ work?

Rules of the Game

Essentially, children eat their meals – healthy meals, naturally – on a placemat illustrated with a treasure trail. The trail encircles their plate, and while chomping, nippers take turns to navigate a golden doubloon along the broken red line.

Players only get to move their coin when they follow parental instruction – taking another bite of broccoli, for instance.

There’s also a shortcut option if a fruit salad or other light snack is on the menu. The colourful placemat itself is double-sided, populated by pirates, pixies and lots more besides.

The set includes a plate, bowl and cup, as well as special treasure hunting cutlery – the spoon, for example, resembles a miniature shovel. Reaching the end of the trail should coincide nicely with the end of the meal, at which point the plates can be cleared away, unearthing one of ten reward cards concealed underneath.

Needless to say, making sweets the reward would be somewhat counterproductive!

A Nifty Rewards System

There are several options when it comes to prizes: five reward stars which kids can collect through the week, leading to a bigger bounty; a Choose Your Own card, which puts the power in players’ hands – the creators recommend ideas like a playdate, an outing to the park or earning 10 reward stars and only then choosing their treasure at the end of this; a Go Hunt for your Treasure card, which lets the sprogs scamper off to find goodies you’ve hidden for them; and three reusable blank cards revealing prizes of your choosing.

Before you start fretting about whether the treasure hunt will throw eating patterns out of sync, it should be noted that the creators have worked alongside a nutritional therapist to ensure the game falls in line with best nutritional practice. In fact, there’s an advice sheet written by the nutritionist included in every set.

Make Mealtimes Fun Again

We could certainly see the game catching on. Parents could bring the set along to children’s parties, with slices of birthday cake serving as treats. It could also be taken to restaurants to keep youngsters engaged and entertained throughout the meal. Eating out, as we all know, can end up more trouble than it’s worth sometimes: especially when the rug rats decide it’s time to start an impromptu food fight!

Launched in October of last year, the Gotrovo Mealtime Treasure Hunt has already won praise from Jo Studholme, editor of Mumii. "We love any products that make mealtimes easier and less stressful for children and parents alike," says Jo. "The Gotrovo Mealtime Set does just that and parents across the UK voted it our Bronze Winner in 'Best Household Product' in the Mumii Family Awards 2017." In the same awards, the game was also shortlisted in the Best Family Game and Best Children’s Toy categories. It retails at £22.95, which seems like a small price to pay to positively alter the eating habits of your kids for the better.