Resolving picky eating
Why children may eat better away from home
This is absolutely one of the key reasons that children often eat better away from home than they do for parents.
It's in some ways a positive thing as they feel they can be more themselves at home. In other ways it can be enormously frustrating as a child may eat grandma's pancakes/pasta/burgers but when we make them they are not accepted.
The reason our children do not eat something at home usually has very little to do with the way we cook it though (see opening sentence). I know a lot of parents are driven crazy because their child refuses a dish that we have lovingly prepared exactly the same way grandma does.
I am delighted to be a featured writer for Under 5's magazine.
If you go to "Hot Topics" and then "Food & Feeding Time" you'll find a couple of articles. Here is the latest:
This is a really interesting question and one that I get asked all the time. Many people of *cough* my generation claim that there really weren’t any when we grew up as it was "eat or starve".
I know for a fact that isn’t true. I speak to many parents who tell me that they were incredibly fussy as a child, or had a sibling that was. There are a host of stories of Vegemite sandwiches for dinner or a diet of cornflakes and milk.
I have just been talking to a mum who bought Creating Confident Eaters for her sister. Her picky eater niece eats a healthy but limited diet, and we all know how difficult it can be when our children can only eat certain foods.
Aunty read through the book before passing it on to her sister and decided to use one of the strategies on the niece, Lily * to see how it worked.
Although this is not specifically from the guide what the aunt has done is used an example and a strategy and applied it to her own situation and that of her niece.
So often parents are really struggling around food for their children. I have had countless mums tell me "Judith, I feel like I'm a good parent and am so capable in the workplace, but I am just lost around food for my child".
Feeding picky eaters can bring the strongest and most determined of us to our knees. We cannot force our child to eat, nor do we want to. But what do we do when we have tried everything and we're still stuck with the same limited number of foods.
I prepared a double basket this weekend for the family The Confident Eater sponsors. We're going to be busy at the end of this week, and I wanted them to be ready for the long weekend (as the basket doesn't reach them until Mon evenings).
Every week I lovingly - and I do feel that way about feeding people :) - put together a basket of food for a local family through the charity He Korowai Whakapono. The charity supports children who have parents in prison. Much of the support is to help prevent the pattern being repeated.
Having enough food really helps children attend and achieve at school. It gives hope and enables a family to focus on other challenges.
Parents are, in 99% of cases the ones best placed to help their child with fussy eating.
No one is as invested, spends as much time or knows our child as well as we do.
We can support our child to:
- eat more widely
- not get stuck on specific foods
- try new foods
- be relaxed and have fun around mealtimes
- add fruit and veggies
When I speak to parents of picky eaters, the worry that their child is iron or protein deficient is often front of mind.
Although this may be true, iron and protein would not be my biggest concern. I would first look at zinc as many people, never mind those that do not eat well are zinc deficient.
For those on a limited diet already too little zinc can affect appetite and the taste of foods. Not pluses for fussy eaters!
There is a very simple strategy for supporting children to eat more veggies. It’s not something I would necessarily advocate for if you have an extremely picky eater. But, if your child is able to eat some veggies but prefers not to then this could be great.
Studies have shown that what we pair a food with can have a real impact. If we serve nuggets that our child loves, next to broccoli, they are likely to focus on the nuggets and if able, ignore the broccoli.