For me the picture says it all. Easter, for me, is like all the other main holidays of the year and is about family.
Unfortunately that is a very small family for us as all our relatives are overseas. But never-the-less it's where we have more time to just hang and enjoy each other's company (well mostly!)
If you have a selective eater it's really easy to get all caught up in the food side of things and begin stressing about what to prepare, what to take and how to tackle relatives.
My advice is always to forget about what your child does or doesn't eat on holidays. Give yourself a break from the worry and appreciate that if all they eat is crackers and air for a few days it is not going to change their lives (or yours).
If you're having a special dinner at home or at a relative's house then I recommend having one of their special foods on offer too. It's all about being relaxed and happy at the table and no one does that if there is nothing at the table that they enjoy.
I was super blessed to run a Parent Workshop on Saturday with a lovely couple who had the cutest baby. And, I got baby snuggles ... but enough about me!
Their daughter, just turned 4 *Olivia had a diet that was in line with many selective eaters:
1. No veg
2. Fruit was only an apple until that was dropped
3. No eating at daycare except occasional plain pasta
4. Foods constantly dropping from the menu without warning
5. New foods seldom if ever tried
6. Rare combining of foods and only within strict parameters
We set out with the intent of making food about fun rather than about being a push to eat something new and it's worked already!
Her parents were super intuitive and by the end of Sunday Olivia had tried 3 new foods willingly, mixed foods and tested the tastes of others.
This is not a result that I expect every time however, I am seeing better and better outcomes from the families I work with.
If you do have a child that struggles to eat don't suffer in the guilt/ frustration/stress cycle that this produces. Get in touch and take the first step which is the easy one.
Set up an appointment to talk to us and discuss your child's situation. Let us find solutions - because there is always a solution. Just talking to someone else can be so cathartic.
*name changed to protect privacy
When my boys were you younger we used to look after a young girl some weekends.
For Easter she found this awesome set. It was little plastic buckets that you could sit a boiled egg into and came with a shovel (since lost :( ) that was the "spoon".
The boys loved these and I thought it was such a clever present.
I'm a big advocate for anything that makes food about the experience rather than the actual "eating". Getting caught up in the excitement of something novel or new can help overcome reluctance around foods.
Have you come across anything novel for Easter that is not chocolate based?
It's interesting, a lot of people feel that "fussy" eating is something that is far more prevalent now than it was previously.
It's true that now-a-days there are so many more options for children who struggle to eat meals. It's very easy to survive on crackers and nuggets and chippies that have been specially designed to hit all the pleasure centres.
These alternatives were not so readily available or commonplace when I was growing up (a LONG time ago ;) ). However, children still struggled to eat, they just ate a big plate of mash instead of mash/stew and veg.
I know this is true from following groups focused on "picky" adults, many of whom are in their 40's+. I also meet a lot of parents who don't eat variety when working with families.
When we're adults it may not be noticeable though as we can cater to our specific tastes. If those are very narrow so be it! I also watch how adults who don't eat variety negotiate social situations that involve eating very well given years of practice.
However, not eating variety can be isolating and difficult and often invites negative comment.
A lovely lady in her 20's contacted me about working with her a few weeks ago. I had not worked with an adult before - and explained that to her. However, we were both up for a challenge so I am using my knowledge of eating to support her to expand her menu options.
Weekend nights my husband cooks. It's great for me as it's two less meals to get on the table. He's also really good at it and often creates something new.
Sunday night he quickly fried some zucchini in garlic and butter and then cut into little triangles. The zucchini was still firm but just cooked.
Usually Max rejects zucchini as it's just not his favourite veg. He's fine having it in integrated meals and OK if it's pizza-style drowned in cheese but on it's own it just doesn't rock his boat.
And I get that. It's a texturally challenging veg!
However, Sunday he nudged me and said "you're not going to believe this but I really like this zucchini" as he spooned heaps onto his plate.
The reason I bring this up is because I follow my own advice when feeding my boys:
1. Keep serving what you want eaten. Even if it regularly gets rejected.
2. Changing up the way a food looks/tastes/smells/feels can make a difference.
3. We always have to believe that eventually our children can learn to like something.
So why the picture of celery?
I got really choked up last night over an e-mail about lettuce.
There will be some of you thinking "my child is pretty much reduced to tears over lettuce too".
Which is what this is all about.
I worked with a fabulous family in Dec of 2016. They had a 4 y.o. boy Austin * who was freaked out by greenery. Nothing green was allowed to be on the table whilst he was eating.
He would even yell "mummy, that lettuce is too close to my fingers in the supermarket trolley".
There has been a LOT of hard work put in but yesterday his mum contacted me to say that he, without prompting, added a lettuce leaf to his burger.
One of the worst parts of parenting is the guilt. We all suffer from it to some degree (especially mothers!).
- Are we spending enough quality time with our kids?
- Should we limit screen time?
And the list goes on.
But there are some issues that just push the guilt button so hard. That keep us awake at night worrying and that make us feel like we're failing.
Eating is one of those. Part of that is biology - we are hard-wired to feed our kids. No matter how hard it is, we are driven to make sure they don't have an empty tummy.
When feeding becomes challenging it's really difficult not to feel totally demoralised, worried and yes guilty.
But is it our fault?
I recently worked with a family who had two young children both with sensory issues and both with very limited diets.
In fact the classic selective eater repertoire of toast, crackers, yoghurt and a raw carrot or peeled apple for variety. This was breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner.
When we get into this situation it's really easy to feel totally defeated. None of our fabulous meals get eaten. The best of the "picky eater" recipes from Pinterest get rejected without even a look. We see our children eating less and less variety whilst all the other kids seem to be eating more.
However, there is always hope. It doesn't matter how restrictive a diet your child has, there is a solution.
These two boys are now not only eating a wider variety of carbs but they are trying new foods - including veggies!!
There are studies "proving" all sorts of things and the devil is often in the detail (or the population size, or the way the results are measured etc.).
This study uses data from many other large scale trials.
It's looking at fish oils (great source of Omega 3's) and probiotics and how taking these in pregnancy and during lactation can reduce allergy and eczema risks.
I'm a huge proponent of making sure our children get enough both Omega 3's and probiotics in their diets as there are so many positives in doing so. I will be watching developments in this research in pregnant women with fascination.
I'm always happy to brainstorm how to get more nutrients into a child's diet via food that rocks. Even if you do have a selective eater! Just give me a shout on the post.
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.