I'm absolutely fascinated (OK, a little obsessed) with how nutrition can be beneficial/detrimental to our health and well-being.
This article confirms my bias that a fresh food diet can have an effect on brain function. But more importantly it suggests that even if the diet has not been optimal, making changes at any stage in life will produce positive outcomes.
It's one of the key reasons I love to work with families who have children who struggle to eat. Yes, they may grow out of it as adults but if we can speed up the process then there are more years where the body and mind are better nurtured.
There is nothing I love more than nutrient boosting for children who have a limited diet.
I'm also going to be buying more frozen berries too. My boys will be delighted!
Monday I ticked over into a new half century. It was a real privilege to have come this far and still have health, wealth and happiness. It also caused me to reflect on all the positives I have gained in 50 years.
The most important were of course family and friends, my husband and my 2 beautiful boys right at the top of the list.
My life is intricately meshed with theirs and it's often challenging to establish who is most dependent on whom :)
Which brings me to my thought for the day. I always say that Max was my emotional barometer when he was young. If I was in a funk it affected him.
I'm not sure I am as powerful an influence now but still how I approach him and what he does will have an impact. And although he becomes more independent with every passing day my thoughts on food are still important.
Which brings me back to the original statement "how to worry our children".
As parents we are a powerful influence and the way we feel about food and feeding can have a tremendous impact on how our children approach eating.
"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now" - Chinese Proverb
I love this. How many times do we wish we'd done something days, weeks or even years ago?
Eating is very much like this. When we have a child that struggles to eat we often wish that we'd tackled issues earlier rather than later.
But the last part of the proverb is spot on. The second best time to resolve issues is now.
Taking action and setting out to resolve a problem always makes us feel better.
The good news is that the first step is super easy.
Please get in contact and we'll set up time to talk. Establish what the issues are and suggest solutions.
Giving our children choices when it comes to food is fabulous. However, we have to be careful that we are not giving them control (which is super easy to do - eek!).
We want them to feel that they do have a say in what they eat but without us becoming short-order cooks or pandering to every whim.
One of the places where parents often struggle is around dinners. They find that their child doesn't eat enough during the main meal and so Option B appears.
If Option B is a favourite then this can lead to problems greater than a hungry child and a sleepless night. Hmmm, which do I prefer? The beef stew or the bowl of ice cream / Cocopops / crackers and cheese.
Which doesn't mean I advocate serving a meal and saying eat it or go hungry. Absolutely not. However, we have to be very careful that we are not inadvertently allowing our children to dump dinner in favour of something that they much prefer to eat.
There are lots of different ways we can manage mealtimes so we don't end up in this trap:
- Having some food at the table they are able to eat every night is advisable.
- Not having an exciting Option B is essential.
- Making sure that everyone knows that dinner is it, the main event where we should be eating.
- Having everyone hungry enough to eat when they get to the table.
If you'd like to talk about how to manage dinner and Option B please get in touch. We're happy to work with parents around aspects of eating that are particularly challenging.
One of the things I see time and again is how much siblings benefit when families participate in one of The Confident Eater's programs.
Often when you have a selective eater in the family other children inadvertently get caught up in the drama. They may eat a lot more widely but can still develop a disordered approach to food.
Also although they eat a larger variety of foods they don't reach their full potential as comparative to the selective eater they are excellent :)
Joining a program means you will not only receive advice that supports more confident eating for your child who struggles to eat variety but that advice helps other siblings too.
I worked with a family who had a small boy who was really struggling. He is slowly adding new foods but the effect on his sister has been near miraculous. She was never a confident eater but is now trying everything put in front of her.
2 or even 3 for one deal. What's not to love? :)
Please get in touch if you'd like more information as to how we can support you to get the whole family eating more confidently.
I've talked about this before but have to talk about it again.
Spinach is often viewed as a "dreaded food". Something it's challenging to get children to eat.
But actually in my experience that's often not the case.
Even very selective eaters are not always anti-spinach.
My boys ate baby spinach way before they liked lettuce. I think it's partially textural. Spinach is not wet and limp in the mouth like other salad leaves. It holds it's shape a little whilst you chew too.
The same can't be said for cooked spinach - which my boys both eat but both still complain about ;)
Don't rule out spinach as an option because it's accepted by a surprising number of children.
Not sold? Get out the scissors and you can cut into shapes, letters or numbers. Great fun and a good way to get the children interacting with it.
If you are living a food nightmare where you are convinced your child will never branch out and eat new things. And, even more scarily refuses foods they formally ate. Then just stopping that back-slide and slowly adding new foods is so exciting.
This was from the mother of a 6 y.o. who was really struggling to eat more than a handful of meals and who had a disordered approach to his food.
We implemented some new routines, introduced a new approach and language and he stopped going backwards straight away. He also started to slowly add new foods. Yeah!
If you have a child who struggles to eat or would like to know simple strategies for increasing variety, reducing stress around food or injecting joy into meals please get in touch.
Larger issues may require our full program ($ 350.00) but smaller problems can often be resolved with less time - and therefore less cost :)
Please get in touch to see how we can help you.
How long have we been struggling to feed our child variety?
It's a great question to ask because it helps us determine whether this is one of the famous "phases" or whether there is perhaps more to it.
It's normal for toddlers to go through a phase where they are very choosy, exert independence and like something one day and not the next.
However, by the time they are at school if this is a normal "phase" they will be starting to add foods.
If you have a child that isn't eating a lot of variety or has a very rigid approach to food the following are issues to look for.
Red flags are:
- A child has never eaten well
- They only like a very narrow range of similar foods
- Whole food groups are avoided
- Foods are never added
- They drop favoured foods and refuse to them eat again
- In total they eat less than 20 different foods
- They have eaten the same things for 2+ years
- Have extreme reactions to new foods eg. gagging/tantrum
- A rigid approach to food, it has to be a certain way
- No inducement would get them to eat a new food
- Only eat if fed or distracted
- Discomfort during or after eating
- Weight loss
- Battles at every meal
If your child is ticking a few boxes it's definitely worth investigating further. Often waiting compounds the problem by adding years of habits to unpick :(
We're happy to speak to any parent who would like an objective opinion. No-charge, no obligation.
Many families we work with at The Confident Eater are frustrated as their children are not eating dinners and especially as they're not having their veg. Part of the problem is often the inordinate stress that seems to build around dinners.
We dash home from work, grab the kids, whiz around the kitchen at a million miles an hour preparing a dinner worthy of a Masterchef, collapse exhausted at the table and then our children refuse to eat what we've cooked.
I find that part of the stress for both parents and child is that we are expecting all the "good" food to get eaten at dinner. We are content for our children to have a sustaining breakfast and lunch but at dinner we want them to eat veggies. When they don't we feel defeated.
My suggestion is to change our view of meals throughout the day. If our child can eat some carrots for a morning snack, some cucumber with their lunch and some frozen peas as an afternoon snack then what gets eaten at dinner is less important.
If our child eats no veggies at all then we take several steps back and look to give them a comfort level with them. We don't willingly eat something we don't have that basic comfort level with.
I remember talking to a mother with an autistic child who got her son to overcome the first part of his vegetable phobia using wooden blocks in the shape and colour of vegetables. She had to take several steps backwards to take one forward.
What can we do as parents to increase that comfort level?
Would you like some inspiration as to how to get your child more comfortable around fruit and vegetables (having a fruit aversion is actually a lot more common than you'd expect)? If so please get in touch as we have mini programs that can give you fabulous and gentle strategies to work with even the most selective of eaters.
Or if you have a child that eats some veg but you'd like to increase variety and volume. Yep, can do that too
The image is what a little boy ate for dinner, every night prior to his parents contacting me.
Only having one or two choices for dinner is unfortunately very common. Not eating at all is even more demoralising and stressful.
However, there is always a solution!
Carter's * parents have changed the way they approach food and meals and it has totally paid off. There is still a ways to go but they are very confident that as he gets older he will eat more and more variety.
They are delighted to report that mealtimes are now relaxed and Carter is eating meals such as rice, broccoli and chicken or mash, peas, corn and lamb. WOO HOO!
If your child is struggling to eat meals it is worth looking for solutions. It may not be an overnight miracle but making progress is a great feeling as a parent.
We're happy to discuss issues with you and look for appropriate solutions
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.