This is feedback from a family with 3 children (including twins), with one struggling to eat variety that I recently worked with.
Fixing the atmosphere - especially at dinner - is always one of my first priorities. Mealtimes are often really stressful for parents. And if that's the case it's unlikely that new food is going to get eaten.
I have a new mini course that will teach you how to do just this. Turn mealtimes into a relaxed, family-based experience whilst ensuring everything is as conducive to eating as is feasible. Oh, and how to serve one meal only but have everyone eat!
The last course I launched to subscribers (how to introduce new foods to your child and have them try) sold out within the hour. At under $ 100.00 for a week's course, semi-personalised it was a steal!
To be on the list for details: http://www.theconfidenteater.com/contact.html
Again these holidays I have been super blessed having my boys take turns at preparing dinners. They are even starting to crack the clearing and washing up - hallelujah!
It's been a long, messy road to get to this point with some epic spills, oops and melt-downs along the way (and that's just me).
But I maintain that getting the kids in the kitchen is one of the most important things you can do. Why?
1. What do you eat if you leave home and can't cook?
2. To develop a comfort level around foods by handling them, smelling them and tasting them.
3. To learn essential life-skills - addition, measuring, recipe reading etc.
4. So you know what's in your food. Far less scary than something just arriving on the plate.
5. Ownership & pride. We are always more invested in something we've had a hand in making.
6. Bonding and fun. Cooking and creating is a lovely way to spend quality time with our children (mostly).
This interaction is more important if you have a selective eater as they, in general, have less of a basic comfort level around food.
Anyone who works with me hears the phrase "open the door" about 10 times a session. What I mean by this is that we always need to provide our children with the opportunity to take a step forward in their eating.
If we say "oh no, she's too fussy she won't try that" we have not only shut the door but we've nailed it shut.
If instead we don't say anything and see what happens we have left the door open. Will our child step through it? Possibly. But one thing I know for sure is that we haven't inadvertently prevented something miraculous from happening if we just wait and see.
One of my boy's friends came over a few weeks ago and was hungry so I offered him a feijoa. He is often hesitant around new foods but knows I feel he should at least try. Lovely boy that he is he gave it a go. And LOVED it.
Max was on cooking duty yesterday so made pastry and whipped up an absolutely amazing meat pie.
I have to say it was rich, delicious and nourishing.
But that is not the best thing ...
He cleaned up. Without me asking.
Not just moving the utensils to the sink but washing up, putting the veggie scraps into the compost, wiping down the counters, cleaning the stove and even sweeping the floor.
I am almost weeping in joy. Only 13 years it's taken ...
So when I wax lyrical about cooking it is something that I do focus on in my house too. And no it's not all fab and fantastic but maybe, just maybe I am finally reaching the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Phew ...
What if I said I had a Magic Wand?
I would of course be fibbing!
However, getting children to eat variety when they have been stuck in a rut, eating the same foods week in week out is kind of magic.
Nothing gives me more pleasure than hearing happy endings from clients we've worked with. Knowing that parents are able to get their child willingly eating something new is so exciting.
It may not be magic but the results feel that way. Imagine having your child go from refusing anything outside of their 5 safe foods to suddenly accepting something totally new.
I always tell parents that even if your child only adds one new food every 10 days that is still 36 in a year. Imagine if your child was eating 36 new foods this time next year. You'd probably be over the moon.
And yet It really is realistic for most children.
So what's stopping you?
Wouldn't it be awesome if we had a magic pill that enabled us to lose weight or have boundless energy or feed our children anything and have them eat it!
I often joke with clients that if we could deliver all the nutrients a child needs in a cheerio sausage or a nugget or a cracker then there would be no "fussy" eating.
Alas resolving eating issues, like losing weight is a step-by-step, day-by-day process that requires effort and energy and we do need to eat a range of foods for optimal health.
We just got back from a marvelous Easter break. We rented a holiday home 5 hours from home and spent 4 fabulous days in the sunshine going for long walks, eating great food and relaxing.
The garden was chockers with fruit trees and given the unseasonably warm weather the feijoas were already falling off the tree.
We grabbed a few and offered them to the boys. Joe has always loved them - Max and Roy not so much. Roy tried one and raved about it. He said that it was the slightly tart tangy of a normal feijoa but combined with a lovely sweetness. It convinced Max he should try one too.
He took one bite and said "nah, still tastes like a feijoa". Then his face changed and he said "but you're right it is much sweeter, can I try a bit more?"
Today he's taking 2 for lunch and I had to limit dessert portions to only 2 each last night ...
Why am I waffling on about this here? Because it is important that we do give foods a try over and over again. What we are not sold on one year we may like more the following. Also food can taste so markedly different dependent on how it's prepared, how it's cooked and in this case how little it's traveled from the tree :)