It always amuses me when parents talk about sausages and picky eaters.
They tell me sheepishly, or resignedly or with total amazement that their child will eat them but they have to be peeled.
I'm amused, not because it's funny but because it is sooooo common. In fact I reckon non-peelers are in the minority. Please let me know in the comments whether you have a peeler or a non-peeler!
But, like many things that surround fussy eating this is rarely advertised or discussed which means that parents are left concerned that their child is different/odd/challenged.
If your child is a peeler sleep easier knowing that a) it's very common and b) it is something that they usually grow out of - especially once they start building confidence around food in general.
So let's do the poll ... a "yes" for peeler and a "no" for intact :)
Actually thinking about this a bit more deeply and I'm sure there have been times when my boys peeled some sausages that seemed to have a particularly thick casing. I'm a no with a hint of yes
My husband is home this week. Yeah! It's a very rare occurrence so I'm loving that he's in charge of laundry, shopping and boy annoying. Even optician's appointments and finding new shoes (that please the teen but don't cost the price of a small car).
He's also a great cook (I definitely lucked out there) so has commandeered the kitchen.
Yesterday he was making zucchini fritters for lunch. Now to give this context neither of my boys are big zucchini lovers. They will generally eat a small bit but they are not enthused. Unless I do zucchini with pizza toppings and then I get a much better strike rate but still ...
I think Roy was working on the same theory so he made a basic fritter with just zucchini, egg and some seasoning (he adds spelt flour to bind I add ground linseeds) but then put it under the grill covered with melted cheese.
A little gratuitous but I have to say it worked on a few different levels and it fascinated me watching it in action. More on that shortly. He also cut it into pizza shaped wedges and although it's mad it really did make a difference. The boys were totally psyched to try it as it did look 1) appealing 2) pizza like 3) cheese drenched.
They had a piece as did I. My first thought was "uh, a little undercooked and wet with the zucchini really being the overwhelming taste and texture". Then the cheese kicked in and the overall experience was OK.
The boys both remarked on the prominence of the zucchini but both had seconds and even fought over the last slice.
Although I am not suggesting that this is a winner for picky eaters there were a few interesting points that came out of this.
1. Presenting a food in a new way can help
2. Marrying a winner food with something not so readily accepted can smooth transitions (cheese/zucchini)
3. Visuals. The fritter looked like a pizza and therefore the initial impression was good
4. Marketing. The zucchini was presented as a new, liked, sought after thing and that's what it became
We all eat for a whole host of reasons and it is a really psychological thing. Using that to our advantage every now and again is not a bad thing!
Have you ever inadvertently discovered a winner?
There is a lot of noise on the web about picky eating and lots of potential ideas about how to resolve it. Some are helpful and some can be detrimental.
All families and all children are different so what works for one person is not necessarily going to be a success for another. It also depends on how old our child is, how long the problem has been evident and why our child struggles to eat.
This is one of the key things we do:
- Cut through the chatter and give you some pretty black and white answers as to which strategies are relevant and which to avoid.
- We also show you how to gently apply these strategies in your house with your child.
- We talk you through meal by meal ways to approach food and feeding.
- We look at how we can increase nutrients within a child's limited diet.
- We suggest ways to put the joy and relaxation back into food and meals for everyone.
Anyone who works with us will go away having a very clear idea as to what will work and where to expend energy. They will also understand what to avoid and why. This means that as a parent you are confident you are doing the best you can to support your child's eating (and that of any siblings following).
If you're not sure whether your child would be a fit please get in touch. We work with families who have "failed" food school, who haven't seen progress after referrals from the GP or who have a very limited diet.
We also work with a lot of families where there is just something "not quite right" about the way a child approaches food and the parents can see this but are unsure as to what to do.
We're always happy to have an initial chat to see what the issues are. Please get in touch if you'd like to make 2019 the year when you tackle the big eating challenge!
Usually it's not as difficult or as overwhelming as you're expecting. Much of what we implement is a positive for the children too (honestly!!).
People often hire a personal trainer that can encourage, motivate and give us all the best tips for hitting goals. I feel very much like that but in the eating sphere.
I can give you all the information you need to make changes in the family eating dynamics to support your child to take steps forward.
I can gift you the confidence that you're able to make a difference - because you can.
I will give you a plan that is specifically tailored to your picky child and your family.
I will be there to support you whilst implementing your plan and then be there in the background on call in case you need more help.
Just like personal trainers can help you have better success when it comes to fitness, I can support you to have the best chance at progress when it comes to eating and your child.
Unlike a personal trainer I only charge you once though :)
Please get in touch if you'd like to discuss how I'm able to help you. No charge and no obligation. Change how 2019 goes for you and your child.
I love Christmas and the food is one of the highlights for me. But I know this is not true of a lot of children who struggle to eat.
There is often very little on offer that ticks boxes for a selective eater. If you add to this:
1. Being somewhere new (or having people over)
2. Having relatives commenting on what's being eaten
3. Feeling pressured to have foods that are not in the comfort zone
4. Sitting for too long at a table that holds no interest
5. Being surrounded by smells that can be overwhelming
- And suddenly Christmas Day doesn't seem so much fun.
My top tips for making Christmas Dinner rock for everyone:
1. Make sure our child knows what to expect. It's often easier to cope if we've been pre-warned.
2. Can we talk to relatives in advance and explain that Christmas Day is never the right time to be teaching lessons about eating food so please not to comment/ intervene.
3. Setting sensible time limits on how long our child needs to be at the table (or giving them the ability to get down - within reason).
4. Relax. The way we feel affects the way our child feels. If we're happy and smiling it enables them to do the same.
5. Set expectations. If our child doesn't normally eat any meat or any veg then we shouldn't be disappointed when they don't hoe into the turkey ...
6. Give our child some autonomy. What would they like to put on their plate. Gifting them some control helps.
7. Having some familiar items can be comforting. Is it a favourite plate or cutlery or is it having rabbit sitting next to them.
8. And the MOST IMPORTANT :) Christmas Day is for everyone to enjoy. It's about family and fun and loving celebrating. No one does this if they are not able to eat things they enjoy. So, my advice is to have one of our children's favourites at the table. Hopefully there is something that blends in like some potatoes or carrot sticks but if it's peanut butter on crackers then it is.
Let's return to - Christmas Day is not the place to teach someone to eat - so why wreck it for everyone. If our child just eats plain pasta whilst we're eating turkey and ham then that's OK. They will have a great Christmas and isn't that what we want for them ...
Biting, chewing and swallowing. AKA - EATING!!
When our child gets more confidence around a food they are gradually able to get it into the mouth and actually chew and swallow it.
Often this step is days, weeks, months or even years after we introduce Step 1 so don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen overnight. Eating can be very challenging and it takes time for our child to work through the steps at their own pace.
I hope this week has helped you a little. Let me know what you think and what could be useful to know.
Now we're actually getting the food into the mouth, but being able to take it out (preferably politely) if we don't like it.
Having the ability to try a food but still remove it from the mouth if a picky eater is a bit overwhelmed by the taste or the texture enables the to take an easier step forward.
If we have to chew and swallow anything that goes into our mouth, that's a lot more challenging.
Step 5 to Eating Ah, we're getting to the pointy end now! Licking. Getting a food up to the mouth and touching the tongue to it. Not that I advise parents to ask their children to lick foods. It's just part of the natural progression we follow when l
Ah, we're getting to the pointy end now!
Getting a food up to the mouth and touching the tongue to it.
Not that I advise parents to ask their picky eaters to lick foods. It's just part of the natural progression we follow when learning to like a new food.
Just touching it with the tongue is a precursor to being able to put it into the mouth. For many children with food anxiety or fears this is a big step.
If your child is able to touch a food with their tongue it's a positive so feel good (rather than disappointed that they're not eating it). If they are able to do this repeatedly they are building up to the next step which may be more challenging for them.
Not that I'm advocating sticking our nose into food!
However, being comfortable about how a food smells is going to make it far more likely we are happy to put it near our mouth.
Gradually becoming more comfortable about the smell of new foods supports steps forward.
If the smell of new foods is overwhelming then it's not likely that a child is going to be comfortable putting a food in the mouth.
Part of establishing this comfort level is having those foods and therefore the smells regularly appearing. The more we are around the smell the more likely we are to become comfortable with them.
We can support this by having our picky eater around foods not just at the table but as part of everyday life. Oranges in a fruit bowl for example.
Touching a food.
Often this is a really easy step for picky eaters but not always. For some children touching certain foods can be really challenging.
Being confident around a food and being able to touch it and handle it is important. If we don't even have that level of comfort there is little chance of it making it into our mouth!
Shopping, growing, cooking and serving foods are all great ways to give our children the opportunity to touch new foods away from the table.
If our child is happy to handle foods at the table then that's great and the more we do it the more comfortable we become with that food.
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.