I much prefer to be positive than negative and I don't like to criticise unless there are solid reasons to do so.
I've read about Behavioural Modification Therapy but never seen it in action. Then I stumbled across this video and now I can't "unsee" it.
It just goes against all my instincts when it come to food. Food is about love and pleasure and most importantly family. How can you have a loving and enjoyable meal if you're not allowed to look at your child. And essentially how can withholding love be a positive thing.
Structure and boundaries - yes, these are crucial to parenting in all areas but I would always advise we need more love not less when it comes to our selective eaters. We show them that we understand that eating can be a challenge but that we're going to be there every step of the way WITH them, not against them.
One of the boys on my walking bus was talking about pies and it gave me an idea.
I whipped up some super simple, spelt pastry and made a pie for my boys. I find that putting anything in pastry automatically makes it more acceptable and more of a "treaty" thing. This is a salmon version and is chock full of veggies too. They loved it.
Are there ways that your child loves to have food? On crackers, in a puree for example that you can use?
I'm a huge proponent of "setting the kids up for success". They like pie? Then let's use that as a vehicle to serve small amounts of new foods.
One of the ways we support parents who work with us is by creating foods that will be acceptable for their child and enabling them to prepare foods that are new but not scary. We've just made the most awesome dairy-free ice cream recipe for a client we're working with in a few weeks time.
Get in touch if you'd like to know how to use food chaining or bridging with your child.
It's a lovely, gentle way to increase the variety of foods eaten.
Ah, if I had a penny for every parent who tells me how challenging dinner's/tea/main meals are in their house I would be a rich woman!
Almost every parent who struggles to feed their kids has the most problems around the main meal of the day.
Why is this?
I think it's a combination of reasons:
1. Tired. Especially young or very active children. By dinner they are just done.
2. Over it all. Most of us get to this point around the time when dinner needs to be on the table. And this is more true of children who are often over-tired but also over-stimulated.
3. This is where all the healthy food gets served so there is a lot of pressure to eat.
4. Distractions. There are far more exciting things to focus on than dinner.
But also I find that in most cases dinner isn't actually the problem. It's a combination of what's happening elsewhere in the day that then impacts on this enormous pressure-keg that dinner becomes. Some things that can help enormously:
1. Feed nutrient dense foods at other times during the day. It makes dinner less "important".
2. Make sure it's early enough so the littlies are not too tired.
3. Don't overstuff them at afternoon tea. Hungry is good.
4. Make meals into a pleasurable experience rather than an opportunity to feed.
Are dinners your nightmare too?
Since the show on ARFID aired on Sunday in NZ I am getting a lot of panicked e-mails from parents.
Yes your child may be super selective but actually having ARFID is very rare. If you're worried, if you want to know but are sort of scared of the answer then get in contact.
We can tell you in one consultation whether your child has red flag issues or is in a "normal fussy" phase.
In 95% of cases we are also able to give you strategies so that as a parent you are gently able to work with your child to overcome eating issues.
Contact us if you'd like an evaluation. No charge.
Struggling to get the kids eating more (or any) veggies?
Part of the issue is the "kerb-appeal". Veggies just don't have that salty, crispy, more-ish-ness of the hot chip.
In fact they are often sort of soft and limp in the mouth which is a textural challenge for a lot of children.
But, that's not to say we can't boost their street cred. One of my mottos is "if in doubt roast it". I roast all sorts of veg that are not traditionally done in the oven.
Why? Partially because we eat so many veggies that if I only served up boiled carrots, broccoli and peas we'd be bored in 2 days. But primarily because roast veggies ROCK!
This is some swede that I've prepared for tonight. Super simple. Just take a swede and slice thinly (I just used a sharp knife) and roast on an oiled tray, turning occasionally until they go crispy.
My boys will slam dunk these.
If I cut into chunks and added to a stew which is how it's traditionally cooked they would probably eat it but they certainly wouldn't be fighting over any extras.
I have successfully used roasted veggies to get super selective eaters trying veggies so it's definitely something to road test. Don't spring them on them though, get them testing with you in the kitchen. Sprinkle with salt so they are more "chip-like".
Let me know how you go ....
My Child is Scared of Food
I'm scared for my child because of what they eat.
If either of these apply to you and you're unsure as to whether to hit the panic button or just relax (as many people tell you to do) and hope they grow out of it. Then feel free to get in contact http://www.theconfidenteater.com/yes-please-help-needed.html
As Picky Eating Specialists we're happy to do a complimentary evaluation and establish what the situation is and whether there are red flags or whether it's just a normal phase and not to worry.
Just talking to someone who understands can be very reassuring. And if there are problems we are 99% of the time able to support you to resolve them.
Share with anyone who you know is struggling.
Calls are confidential and we're able to help families no matter where they are located.
For those of you who missed the episode on ARFID that aired on Sunday night week before last here's the link.
I watched it Monday night and have to say that it stirred up a roller coaster of emotions in me.
It is totally unacceptable that children go blind due to vitamin deficiencies in NZ. And yes I appreciate that it's super hard for some children to eat, I work with them one on one so totally get that side of it. But surely we should have systems in place to support parents?
In my experience not only are systems not in place to aid children who struggle to eat but much of the time there is a total lack of awareness about their issues.
Parents on the other hand are usually very aware when there is a problem beyond just normal "fussiness". I speak to parents daily who intuitively know that something is wrong. Often they have spoken to Plunket, and their doctor on more than one occasion. Many have also seen dieticians and/or psychologists. These parents are not sitting back they are just struggling to find help.
It is part of the reason I began working with children with more extreme issues. There is just not the help out there and I know from my experience that the earlier we tackle this the better. Resolving issues whilst they are still pre-schoolers gives children the opportunity to re-learn to eat widely and they can flourish physically and emotionally as all children should be able to.
Watching the program just brought home how woefully under-equipped we are in NZ to deal with a problem that affects a shocking number of families. There are so many kids who may not be quite as extreme as those officially diagnosed with ARFID but still their daily lives are a constant struggle and their parents are forced to sit by and worry as they just can't find the help they need.
Perhaps this is a crusade that needs to be led ...
Sausages & Jacket Potatoes
Every now and again I post a pic of my boy's lunchboxes on this site (for regular food blogs https://www.facebook.com/TheArtofNutritionNZ/)
The stuff on the little plate gets reheated and put into a small food thermos. I do this rather than packing a "traditional style lunchbox" for a couple of reasons:
1) Convenience - so simple to throw extra potatoes in the oven or sausages in the pan
2) Quick - takes me minutes to pack lunchboxes
3) Variety - I'm all about the rotations. Different food every day provides different nutrients/interest. This is even more important for selective eaters - we don't want them to get stuck in food "jags"
4) Not sandwiches - everyone who works with me knows I feel that sandwiches are often a fairly nutrient low option. Not that I'm against sandwiches but if the daily menu reads toast, sandwich with spread, bread with dinner - we're just not getting a good spread of nutrients into the kids
If you have a selective eater and want to test how to do this get in touch and we can send you a video that explains a gentle way to approach it ...
I got an e-mail from a family I worked with last week & had to share because it's sooooo exciting. They have a 12 & a 9 y.o. and the diet had shrunk to about 5 options for dinner (mostly processed) for the oldest. The younger one ate more widely but wasn't enthused about anything new.
Let's hear what the parents had to say:
"Wow I cannot believe the week we have had and if someone had said to me a week ago you will all eat the same meal and try new foods I would have said no way"
"The thing that gets me the most excited is that they are both happy to try these new foods where in the past they will take one look and say no I won’t eat this".
They came to us as they'd spoken to the family of a boy we worked with in Dec who has gone from endless pasta to ordering a curry from a food truck.
I told my new family that curry is now something that may be possible. And this is the response ...
"Honestly when you mentioned about my kids eating curry my first instinct would be to laugh but after this first week yes I do believe they will eat curry in time."
This came up on my news feed this morning & I thought YES!!
Changing people's lives for the better is so where we're at. Feeding the kids is such a mammoth task. 3-5 times per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year.
If mealtimes are tough/frustrating/stressful then for parents it can take a huge toll. Kids can get anxious & socially isolated. Not great for either :(
That's where we come in. We can support you. We understand 100% where you're coming from. We have worked with kids who only like crackers & toast. We can teach you how to make mealtimes fun (yes fun!). How to gradually teach your child (however, stubborn) to add new foods. How to create one family meal that everyone eats (yes even for the only nugget/pasta eaters).
Click on the link & we'll get in touch.
Is it expensive - NO
Is it for everyone - YES (99% of families)
Can I do from X town - YES, we work with families around the world
The best time is now. The longer you leave it the harder it gets ....
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.