Often we have pictures in our head around how much our child should be eating. We desperately want them to finish the sandwich or the yoghurt or just have 3 more sips of the milk.
A good question to ask: “is the extra bite/sip” for them or for us?
We may believe that our child will not be full enough if they don’t finish something off - and we could be right. Conversely are we:
- putting ourselves into the middle of something we shouldn’t and setting up a feeding dynamic that includes us?
- are we inadvertently creating a picky eating power struggle?
- could we be overriding natural satiety cues?
- are we pushing our child to eat for reasons that are logical but not necessarily helpful?
I know it’s tempting to give those prompts to get the extra spoonfuls in, especially at dinner, but does that cajoling support better eating long-term?
I have a series of questions that I love parents of fussy eaters to ask themselves when they are not sure how to proceed in a certain situation. One of them is “is this for them or is it for me?”
If an additional 2 mouthfuls of dinner takes 30 minutes, a dance and daddy spoon feeding - then I would say this is not for the child
A mum sent me an e-mail asking if the guide would be suitable for a pre-teen or was it more for toddlers. I thought it was a great question and probably something that other's were thinking.
The guide is definitely not aimed purely at younger children. I primarily work with 2 - 12's although do some work with teens too. The guide has strategies that are as relevant for the 8-12's as they are for the 2-6's and a lot of the suggestions can be modified to fit any age group.
The principal premise is we must show change in order to over time add new, and that change is usually not as challenging as we assume.
The guide then goes through multiple examples of how we can approach meals and snacks differently to make those changes in a way that is acceptable to our own child. If you have a child that has sensory issues, anxiety or other sensitivities then there are still many ways you can support progress.
The guide was written based on my experience working with 100's of families - many of whom have extremely selective eaters (and often additional challenges like anxiety, sensory sensitivity, ASD, ADHD etc.). The strategies have worked for them so I am sure can work for you too.
It also contains many of the things I would say to parents to which they respond "wow, I would never have thought of that". That is what makes this guide unique and totally different to anything else on the market.
If you have any other questions please let me know as I would love to answer them.
We are all so excited that Creating Confident Eaters is finally here and will be on the shelves in 1-2 weeks.
The limited edition first print run will not last so please let us know urgently if you would like to reserve one.
To celebrate receiving the draft copy of Creating Confident Eaters (it goes to print tomorrow with the finished copy arriving in 1-2 weeks) we met up for brunch this morning.
Vibeke, is the local artist behind all the the cartoon images. There are almost 300 throughout the guide. She has believed in the project from the start and understands just how challenging it can be to get your meals eaten! She has a 4 year old daughter, works part-time and also makes the most amazing cakes on the side. Multi-talented!
Karen, took all the images and gave them the full model make-over. Shadows, shading etc. and created something extraordinary. When we were unable to get the guide ready for print via an outside company (our demands were too unique and outside of the box) Karen stepped in and took over doing it all in-house. It has been 3 weeks of morning 'til night and weekends to get it all finished.
Karen also understands first hand how challenging food can be for some children and has brought a wealth of knowledge to the partnership. She knew the guide would be something special right from the start. Mother to 2 boys and running a substantial business herself, this has been a huge additional commitment for her too.
We are all so excited that Creating Confident Eaters is finally here and will be on the shelves in 1-2 weeks. The limited edition first print run will not last so please let us know urgently if you would like to reserve one.
Yesterday the first proof arrived of my guide Creating Confident Eaters.
It was written with busy parents in mind and answers many of the questions I get asked on a daily basis. How to gently get a child fixated on toast to have a new breakfast. What to do if our kids only accept crackers for snacks.
After speaking to 100's of parents a year I have written a left-of-centre book that is unlike anything else available in print. It sets out to empower parents to take steps to resolve eating issues themselves.
Parents are almost always the best placed to solve eating issues, once given the tools. I feel that this is a crucial tool in that learning. It is as valuable for a mum seeing the toddler fussies emerge as it is for a parent struggling with a very selective eater.
Limited numbers available so please let me know if you would like to reserve a copy (delivery 1-2 weeks)
My teen likes to have variety in the mornings. Yesterday he wasn’t feeling very hungry so I whipped him up some home made chocolate yoghurt.
Banana, yoghurt, vanilla, cacao, dash of molasses (for nutrients!).
As we don’t have a sweet palate the sweetness from the banana was enough. For another child adding a sweetener may make it more pleasurable.
Thinking outside of the box for any child and especially a picky eater can yield great results. Adding something like a chocolate flavour can take something from yeah nah, to YEAH!
I remember talking to a teacher who told me that a child had once told her that he was one boy at home, a second with his friends and a third at school. She asked him which was the “real” one and he said a combination of the three.
This has stuck with me through the years as I feel it’s probably true for most of us. The parent, the worker and the friend are all probably a little different.
It also goes someway to explaining why our picky children eat foods elsewhere when they are unable to do so at home, or conversely, find eating away from home more challenging.
Eating is very complex, emotionally, socially and mentally. Our child may find that having cucumber at daycare is OK and yet look upon it as devil’s spawn at home. Similarly Gran may have the world’s best meatballs but no matter how closely we follow the recipe it is just not the same at home.
On the other hand our child may find school lunches or party settings unbelievably challenging and refuse to eat anything.
If we think of them of three slightly different children eating can make more sense. The child who is confident and a leader at Kindy may find eating new foods a fit for them in their “work” persona. Grandma’s house may be filled with warmth and cookies so food is associated with love and comfort. Home can be a place where we are able to show the extreme ends of our personalities and food gets caught up in this. Or maybe home is where we can be brave with mum there in the background.
I was thinking about this for myself and how I feel about food does change depending on the situation, who I’m with and where I am. Now the trick is, finding the triggers and the support factors and replicating them in new environments.
Practical, proven strategies for picky eaters and support for toddlers going through that "fussy phase" is about to be published.
The interactive picture book for parents. Proven steps that gently enable a child to add variety around mealtimes.
A wealth of experience and support for trying new foods, all in one book.
Next stop, confident eating. RRP $ 39.00
To reserve a copy of the limited edition first run please contact me.
It's the weekend so a lot of us have run out of steam for meal prep. Take-aways or pre-packaged food is a great time-saver :)
If we have a picky eater that does eat some of the favourites like fish & chips, nuggets and fish sticks they can often be a great way to support steps forwards.
If crumbed foods are a hit for our child they will have established a comfort level with the look and the taste.
Anything we approach positively we are more likely to eat than something that makes us uncomfortable and anxious.
Can we use our fussy child's love of a food to gently encourage them to eat something new? An easy start may to be to just change the brand that is offered.
Or are we able to take the nuggets and move to tenders or chicken strips or goujons?
Creating Confident Eaters - our new book will be out this month and will take you through simple steps to adding variety in your child's diet. Tips, strategies and stories from other parents. Woven through this is my philosophy around how to approach food gently.
After speaking to 100's of parents a year I understand that families with a fussy eater are looking for simple, practical strategies for encouraging their child to add variety.
Whether you have a child that really struggles to eat or a toddler going through a phase what is needed is a plan and some hands on things that you can do easily at home.
As a parent no one is better placed to support our child than ourselves. No one is more invested in their health, their happiness or their future. No one knows our child better than us and no one spends as much time with them.
It stands to reason then, that we should be the ones who tackle the eating issues.
Yes, it often seems like we've tried everything and nothing has worked. We have a child wayyyyy more stubborn than usual. They are unable to even try something.
All of this is normal, it is what I expect and it is not insurmountable.
The guide, Creating Confident Eaters offers simple, practical and logical steps for parents to start making small, gentle steps towards more variety in the diet.
No magic bullet stuff. Just things that any parent, however busy can manage at home. No whistles and bells, but small changes that over time lead to bigger strides.
It also talks through strategies that have worked for many, many other families with a picky eater and a host of tips that are invaluable for knowing how to approach meals and feeding.
We're printing a small, initial run in two weeks time. Many have already pre-sold so if you would like a copy please let me know urgently.
If you'd like to be added to the mailing list please let me know. There will be updates on when the guide will be published and I will be touring NZ from the start of August so will also be sending out dates for appearances. Hope to see you soon!!
We are our child's cheer squad. The ones who want to build them up, give them confidence and reward them when they do well.
When it comes to food though, some of these tactics can be unhelpful or even set our child back if they are a picky eaters. I know this comes as a shock to many parents as it seems counter-intuitive.
Let's take a look at why cheering, phoning grandma and dancing on tables may not be a positive:
1. Our child may need to feel very comfortable before being able to eat something new. If we are staring at them, willing them to try a food and then getting ready to cheer it can add a lot of pressure. They know what we want and it feels as though we're pushing them to do something that may be quite challenging.
2. Trying a new food can be easier at some times than others. If they manage a pea tonight and we dance and pop balloons we have set up an expectation. The next time that food appears they may not to be able to eat it. This can make our child feel that they have failed both themselves and you.
3. Eating a pea, for example, should not be difficult. If we clap and congratulate them then we are in effect saying "that was really hard". We want to normalise eating regular foods.
This isn't to say that we can't acknowledge that they HAVE done something that for them is difficult. Acknowledge though, not dancing on tables.
What are your thoughts? Do you party when your child eats something new?
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.