Just to clarify, not those with body image issues but those who struggle to eat whole foods groups or variety.
Unfortunately a lot of these children have slipped through the cracks. They started as picky eaters and just never grew out of their phase.
I am meeting more and more of these kids who have reached a certain age and either want support to change the way they eat. Or, they are finding that their limited diet's just don't tick boxes in other areas.
If you know a teen whose selective diet is making life challenging socially, emotionally or physically we can often help. Obviously if they are not eating enough calories to sustain growth that is a serious medical issue and should be handled accordingly. However, if branching out to new foods is overwhelming we can definitely help.
This article talks about how important it is not to have the same meals on repeat week in week out.
It's a huge part of my working with families. Finding ways we can serve new foods or just different incarnations of accepted foods.
The more fixated we become on foods prepared or served in a particular way the more difficult it is to change to something new.
Boredom with food is real! There are so many children who have limited diets who drop foods just because they have become disinterested in eating them.
If you have a selective eater and everything has to be done in a specific way for it to be accepted, it's definitely time to seek support. Having a narrow range of foods and clear instructions within those choices can lead to less and less foods being accepted over time. Even worse favourites can easily disappear from the list ...
I read a great quote from Miriam Weinstein, author of The Surprising Power of Family Meals.
She says "Supper is about nourishment of all kinds". This includes emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual nourishment.
Wow, no pressure!
I know that in our busy lives finding time to sit down and eat together can be super challenging.
When the children are little there are a million things we have to do for them so sitting for 20+ minutes seems like an age.
When our kids get older they often have after-school activities so getting everyone together is a logistical nightmare.
Then there is us! We have so many competing demands on our time and energy. Getting the food into the house, prepping and serving is enough of a battle, never mind then sitting down and just being and eating.
I was all of those parents at one point or another and then decided to turn it around. Actually it was on the urging of my boys rather than it coming from me.
My boys loved family meals and wanted to have them more regularly so my husband and I made a promise we would try and do this as often as possible.
In order to do this I had to have a huge mindset shift:
1. Family meals in the evening were going to be a priority and therefore scheduled in like any other important activity.
2. It was not acceptable to miss dinner unless there was a compelling reason (this was for the parents).
3. Dinner was not "a waste of valuable doing time" but a place to connect, to relax, to clear the mind of worries and "to-dos". It was to be a rare 20 minutes in which we all sat together and chatted and relaxed.
This happened slowly as we focused on all the things that make dinner work. eg. I would ensure everything was on the table and so I could sit and not have to jump up every 5.
Now our family meal is the anchor-point in the day and something that we all look forward to. Is it always all of us? No. Is it always idyllic? No (fighting kids anyone). But it's something that has become part of our family culture.
So often it's also a place of laughter as being relaxed (even with manic activity happening before and after) leads us to see the funny side of life and each other. It's also a place of robust debates (teenager anyone ..).
If you are not managing family meals and would love to know how to do this - even with fussy eaters in the house - please get in touch https://www.theconfidenteater.com/contact.html
Do you have some food fussiness in the lunchbox?
A little of the picky when it comes to dinners?
Some definite preferences for the carbs over the veg?
Then this story is for you.
I had a business meeting with a lovely lady last week. During the conversation talk came to her 8 y.o. daughter who has some fears around food.
I, of course, couldn't help myself and rattled off some strategies that may help. Well - how exciting - I heard this morning that her daughter has had a really dramatic change in what she'll accept for both breakfast and in the lunchbox.
This is not an outcome all parents should expect but it's really not uncommon. Changing the approach to food can have a dramatic impact and you won't realise how much until you try it.
Often when eating issues are fussy but not extreme we can indeed get the food to fly ... and I love to feel just that little bit magical by spurring a dramatic change.
Why wouldn't you want to give it a whirl? No-cost to set-up an initial call and if issues are indeed minor we can probably fix for under $ 100.00.
Love to hear from you. Questions welcome: https://www.theconfidenteater.com/contact.html
This story makes me sooo excited and so happy!!
I worked with a lovely, young family a few weeks ago. Their 4 y.o. daughter Charlotte (*) had had a traumatic eating history and had found comfort in cruskits.
These made up her breakfast, lunch and dinner with very little besides.
Her parents were determined to support her to add foods to her very limited diet and threw a lot of energy and effort into strategies that would gently show her how.
I am delighted to report that just a few short weeks later and Charlotte is choosing new foods in the supermarket and then eating them at home!!
This is not unusual. I work with many families that discover that once they understand how to change the feeding dynamic and introduce foods in a new way they have quick success.
We'd love to support you to get your child more confident around food.
If your child eats a reasonable range of foods but is not eating family meals or is omitting food groups we may be able to fix things very easily.
Don't struggle with food worries alone. There is always a solution!
(*) Name changed for privacy. Story retold with permission.
Interview - Expanding lunchbox options, getting the teens eating well and getting children eating new veggies.
I was delighted to be interviewed by Melissa Bartram from Mamas Mojo magic - Thanks Melissa!
The topics that her FB group chose were:
- Healthy lunchbox snacks.
- What to do when the teen shies away from the healthy options
- How to increase the variety of veggies our children eat (love this topic!!)
Love to hear what you think
There are many different lists of warning signals that indicate that our child is in something beyond just a normal picky eating phase.
I like these benchmarks from from Jill Castle, Pediatric Dietician:
• slowly but surely nixes foods from "liked" list
• will eat less than 20 foods
• experiences weight loss or stagnant growth
• refuses major food groups such as fruits, veggies, dairy, or protein
• is willing to go days without eating
• eats different foods from the rest of the family
• is highly aware of food "imperfections", like flecks of black pepper or a change in food brands
• shows social anxiety with eating, such as not wanting to go to parties, sleepovers, or restaurants because of food
• demonstrates a very emotional response to new foods, such as crying, anger, or tantrums
The more ticks, the more likely it is that your child will not just spontaneously grow out of their selectivity.
We're always happy to chat to any parent who is concerned about their child's eating.
Anyone who's worked with me knows I'm not a big fan of Option B :) If dinner is not the main event and supper is more appealing then it's a no-brainer which our children will prefer.
However, there are exceptions to prove any rule! My eldest is going through the teen hungries. He is sometimes really wanting food later in the evening even though he's had a huge, balanced meal at 5.45
I know that he is genuinely hungry because:
- He eats very intuitively. His volume is determined by genuine hunger and what his energy needs are that day. It means that he will only serve himself small amounts some days and other days will have 3 helpings.
- He knows that supper is not going to be "treaty" foods but whatever I have in the fridge that was not served at dinner, as in the photo below. Sometimes it's been just a big bowl of soup or lentils as that is what I have.
Eating intuitively is such a gift for our children. They learn to eat because they are hungry and stop when they are full. Over time they also learn to balance the foods they eat so they are choosing primarily nutritious options.
Think of how we, as adults often eat. We have the same portions of certain meals despite how hungry we are.
Teaching our children to read internal cues is really useful, especially when we have a child who struggles to eat.
This is part of what we work on in our programs and I know it works well as I see it in action daily. Now if I could only get myself on the same program ..
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.