We all want our children to have robust and healthy brains.
Sometimes - which may be a good thing for a selective eater - is that it's not just about what you do eat but what you don't.
Omega 3 and 6 fats are really important parts of our diet as they are (among many other things) involved in brain growth and development.
Adding Omega 3 and 6 fats to diets has also been shown to reduce anxiety, attention deficit and behavioral problems.
So excited. I recently worked with a family with a 6. y.o. son Tom* who has a passionate dislike for any sort of fruit (even jam) and eats no vegetables either.
The week after his parents attended my workshop they had a huge win with Tom eating kernels of corn at dinner. He also tried a roast potato - woo hoo!!
Every child and family are different and things that are an easy step in one household can be a huge mountain in another. It's hard to appreciate how big a step this is unless you are in a similar situation so you'll have to trust me - this is champagne poppingly good! :)
(*name changed for privacy).
Drum roll ... first new food is?
Ooh, I'm a very happy bunny this week.
I ran a session for a family on Monday. Their son is 9 1/2 and has a very selective range of foods he's comfortable with.
Standard selective fare - chippies, crackers, nuggets. No veg, no fruit.
One of the conversations we had was around what foods he was most likely to eat. And my view is that a child is as likely to eat an olive as a piece of carrot.
I've been looking at the studies which analyse the links between diet and behavioural challenges/negative symptoms in children. From how food affects mood/sleep/concentration to what the links are for common childhood conditions.
One of these is ADHD as it’s one of the most prevalent behavioural disorders in school-aged children. Often children who have ADHD or are hyperactive find it hard to sit still, to concentrate and can be disruptive in social settings.
The great news is that Omega 3’s have been shown to have a calming effect on many children with ADHD. And the positives of additional Omega 3’s are there for all children.
I'm excited today! I love happy endings and just got a fabulous message from a parent we worked with recently.
She has a 6 y.o. son and like many selective eaters he just doesn't like to eat at school. In fact, he's never eaten anything from his lunchbox.
Not only has he started eating - yippee! - but he unwrapped a sandwich and looked inside. This may not seem like a big thing but this is for a child who doesn't ever eat sandwiches. So for him it is huge.
I was working with a lovely couple recently and we were laughing about young children and how they get so determined about something and nothing will change their minds. Rationality often does not enter into it either!
So when our little one says no to a proffered food what does it actually mean?
I have some options. Which applies will depend on the day, the hour, the weather, what they are wearing and how little you're able to cope ;)
a) I'm not hungry
b) I am hungry but I don't want that
c) I wonder what will happen if I say no
d) That looks funny so no
e) I'm tired and I feel terrible
f) I'm too hungry to eat
g) I want to play
h) It's too hot
i) It's too cold
j) It's too big
k) It's not beige
There are probably a whole host more too. Which is why it's so important that we don't take a no as "I don't like that and will never eat it".
No always means "not at the moment". This applies to older kids and sometimes partners too :)
I follow a FB group out of the US for adult picky eaters.
Trust me, this dispels any need to ask "do all children grow out of "fussy" eating. There are so many adults who struggle to eat variety and so many who can't eat whole categories of foods - especially fruit and veg.
It's interesting for me to understand how they approach food and how that does and doesn't differ from children. It's also often heartbreaking as they feel ostracised, uncomfortable at social events and the victims of a lot of negative comment.
The post that really stayed with was one from an older lady. She had been running a charity for years and in recognition of her work a gala dinner was being organised in her honour. Instead of this being her night of nights and thinking about a new dress and hairstyle, she was totally panicked about the food.
There was not one thing on the menu that she was comfortable eating and she wasn't sure how to handle it without offending people.
That story has stuck with me for ages. And then last night I read this:
"Went to see Obgyn today about planning for a baby. This is my 2nd opinion to talk about my medication I’m on. My eating came up. She let me know my prenatals are not enough to replace the kinds of food I don’t eat. We talked about nutrition and how I don’t eat what I’m suppose to. I feel like I can’t have a kid. My husband and I are such extremely picky eaters. I just don’t know what to do. Any picky eat moms out there ?"
Now that really is something I will struggle to un-see. I cannot imagine how awful this poor woman feels. Especially, as I know that if a mother's diet is not providing what the baby needs it will actually harvest nutrients from her body so what we eat during pregnancy is important.
Which brings me full-circle back to my soap box issue. If we have children who struggle to eat there should be support for them. We should care, we shouldn't just blow it off as a phase and we should be looking for ways to support any family that feels they need it.
I have a very wholistic approach to health and wellness ('cos I am that hip and trendy mum ... or not ...).
"Outside time" is one of my favourite phrases and often one that causes a lot of eye rolling from the shorter members of the family.
However, I have just been proved right :) A study was done by Duke University on a group of people with a major depression diagnosis. They were split into two groups and given either medication or a physical exercise program.