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?
I ran a super fun session for a mother's group last night.
It was a great atmosphere and we went totally off script after about 20 minutes and just did a huge Q & A.
With 8 of us it was noisy and busy but a whole lot of fun.
All of the mums had a toddler so we spent a lot of time talking about how to keep eating on track and gentle ways to approach meals and snacks. We also discussed how to keep things really positive around food (for parents as well as kids :))
if you'd like to organise a session with a mum's group, a Kindy or a community group please get in touch. I'm happy to come to you in the Wellington region or organise a fabulous video-conference session elsewhere.
The mum who organised it got a lot of positive feedback today as everyone took away a tonne of new information and reassurance around some key worries.
If you have a group where fussy eating is an issue we can brainstorm solutions. If things are going well and you'd like information on how to maintain that we can do that too. Programs are tailored to the group and you can request topics that tick boxes for you.
Drinking lots of water is great for us. When we have a picky eater it can be useful too for preventing constipation. Making sure our child drinks enough water is important.
Sometimes though, the drinking tips from a positive into a negative.
When it comes to fussy eaters it's good to evaluate a few things:
1. Drinking is often easier for our child than eating. This means that they will fill an empty tummy with drinks before food. Yes, we want them having enough water but we don't want a hungry belly filled with nutrient free drinks.
Before snacks and meals it's good to keep an eye on how much our child is drinking. A tummy full of liquid suddenly doesn't feel ready to eat our yummy dinner. An hour later the hungries hit!
2. During dinner it's again easy to fill the tummy with water rather than food. I recommend having small amounts of liquid available until we've eaten.
3. Milk is fatty, filling and even gives us a lovely warm feeling once drunk. Add to this positive associations of comfort and milk is often a favourite for fussy eaters.
Let's repeat - milk is fatty and filling! This can easily take the place of food and many children prefer to drink than eat - especially a favourite.
Yes, milk contains calcium and other nutrients but for children over 1 years old it shouldn't be replacing food.
Parents have often hit a road block when it comes to their child's eating and feel there is no way they can make progress. Or secretly hope it will just happen as they - age/go to school/via peer pressure etc.
The common reasons parents give me for not being able to help their child move forwards are:
1. Their child is too "stubborn".
2. Their child will not even try something new.
3. There are anxieties around food.
4. They have tried everything and nothing works.
5. They do not have a plan, and are not sure which strategies to use.
6. They do not have the time/energy to do different things.
7. They feel their child will grow out of it.
My latest article rinted in TeachersMatter. It's a publication that goes out to teachers all over Australia and New Zealand in print form and via the web internationally.
Lunchboxes returning full is a huge issue for many parents. Hopefully in the article I have addressed some of the pain points and offered solutions.
Even when working with picky eaters who have a super selective diet, my advice is always to rotate not repeat (you are going to have this stuck in your head :) )
1. The more different options we can offer across a day/a week, the more of a spread of nutrients our child is eating.
2. Having varying foods on offer helps to prevent boredom or jags where our child gets fixated on one thing.
3. The key to having variety is offering variety. Even if that is from a very limited range of options it is still important.
If our child has a sandwich for morning tea can we offer something different for lunch? If we have served a yoghurt for breakfast can we find a new option for afternoon tea?
You may not feel this is helpful if you are cycling through the same options daily but it is still maximising that spread within even a limited diet.
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.