When parents find out I work with parents of picky eaters, invariably their first question is “how do I get my children to eat more fruit and vegetables?”. Most parents, even those without fussy eaters, would love it if their children ate more of the green stuff, and willingly.
There may not be a magical answer, but there is definitely one thing that does, over time increase the number eaten:
Every parent of a picky eater has either heard this, or been made to feel it. It’s an awful feeling and one that many parents carry around with them all the time. When I speak to mums it’s one of the times that often brings out huge emotions, as they try to articulate why their child’s problems are their fault.
But is this true?
Celebrations can be super tough with a picky eater as many revolve around food. There are challenges for them and also for the parents. Feelings of stress, guilt and embarrassment can sneak in. It’s such a shame that occasions that are supposed to be joyous can feel the opposite.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!!
Let’s look at some ways we can include our fussy eater but not compromise for ourselves or our guests. Yes, we can still do a gourmet meal whilst catering for a selective eater:
How can we get our child eating the things we really want them to eat when they are fixated on sweets, crackers and toast?
A good first step is meeting our child where they are at.
This seems really obvious, but can be quite challenging as a parent. We don’t want our picky child to go from Nutrigrain to Cocopops, because we would much prefer them to be munching on carrots or stir fry.
And yet, moving from one cereal to the next, is often a great move. No, it doesn’t appear as though you’re supporting them to eat the carrots or whatever food it is that you’d love your child to eat but actually you are!
That was the Australian coming out in me so try and say it in an Aussie accent 😊
The more we worry the more our child worries, especially if they are a picky eater, so it’s important that we don’t convey our concerns. Easier said than done I know.
Let’s look at some ways to do this simply:
1. Not talking about what our child is or is not eating.
One of the hardest things to do when we feel we’re failing at something, like getting our picky eater to eat, is to do more.
This is even more true when we feel like it’s groundhog day. We’ve done this, we’ve tried that and none of it works.
What’s the point of wasting more food?
There are many times when I’m debating an issue with my teen or tween and start to wonder who is actually in charge!! We have raised these fabulous children full of independent thoughts, intelligence and the ability to analyse and argue a point. Then they take those skills and turn them on us 😊
When we have a child that is a picky eater and especially when they are little, in age or weight or stature, this can become an area where we gradually start to give over control. It often happens without us even realising it and is always done with the best of intentions.
Anyone who follows me knows I love a good analogy. One of my favourites is to explain how we treat reading and feeding so differently and yet there are a lot of parallels.
How can we use reading to teach us feeding?
1. The way we relate around reading. When we talk about our child in this context it’s always positive. We don’t doubt our child will learn to read and we pump them full of positives about it. When speaking to others, if there were issues, we wouldn’t talk about them in front of our child as we wouldn’t want to crush their confidence.
Judith is passionate about good food and is even more passionate about enabling other people to enjoy the wide variety of fresh food available today.