Picky eating: one mum’s perspective (a guest post by Mandy Mazliah)

I love having guest posts on my blog as I believe there’s something really valuable about looking at eating issues from different view points. So many parents talk about how alone they feel with their child’s picky eating – I wanted to share a parent’s perspective because it’s really important to know that, if you are the parent of a fussy eater, you are not on your own. Thanks so much Mandy, for sharing your experiences:

Last night my five-year-old son R was engrossed in a game before bed. He’d set up a salad bar and fruit stall using toy food and was busy selling away to his very keen customer, his three-year-old sister, who is always delighted when her big brother wants to play with her.

This both surprised and fascinated me because R is what is often described as a picky eater. Less so perhaps than when he was two, but there is a long list of foods that he will not even consider eating.

Mandy's little girl tucking into an apple...

Mandy’s little girl tucking into an apple…

He doesn’t eat any fruit. No, not even a strawberry. No, not even when he sees his friends eating it every day at school. He won’t even touch the stuff. (Seriously. We were at a fete a few weeks ago where the children were making fruit hedgehogs and he refused to even go near the table).

He’s not hugely keen on vegetables either. Or pasta. Or cheese. Or hummus. The latter three are all things he used to eat happily. Continue reading

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A tale of a dozen oysters

When I was 14, my parents sent me to France to live with a family over the Summer, in the hope that I would learn some French and come back mature, well-rounded and independent (and I think they wanted a break from my teenage mega-strops). I did come back speaking French, so it half worked.

image by Jeremy Keith - source: creative commons

image by Jeremy Keith – source: creative commons

The family I was inflicted upon were called the Chevaliers and they took me with them to their chalet by the sea in St. Jean de Monts on the West coast of France. We always ate outside which was a huge novelty for me, but even more of a culture shock was what we ate. Day 1: lunch began with a plate of a dozen oysters with a wedge of lemon. Continue reading

The feeding paradox

At the heart of my work with the parents of picky eaters is a secret. An idea that is extremely simple and yet can be very hard to accept. I call it ‘The Feeding Paradox‘. Here it is.

‘The harder you try, the worse things will get’

or, to put a positive spin on it,

‘The less you try, the more progress you will make’

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This is counter-intuitive because our natural instinct as parents is to look at a problem we are experiencing, summon the strength to tackle it and then try as hard as we can to make things better. When it comes to feeding, I teach people to try not to try.  Continue reading

First steps…

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with one small step”  

Lao Zu

stepsHelping your child overcome issues with food is no different from tackling the other myraid of parenting challenges that life throws at us. The real beginning of the journey  is about acknowledging that you have a problem. If you have a picky eater in the family, there are so many reasons why  you may not yet have sought help. You may be unsure of where to go for support, you may have complex feelings about your child’s eating, perhaps secretly suspecting that you may be part of the problem – facing up to these emotions is not easy.

Sometimes, the status quo does not seem too bad. Almost without exception, the families of fussy eaters that I have worked with have established certain ways of doing things that allow them to make mealtimes as tolerable as they can be. For example, they may have become accustomed to sticking to a small repertoire of foods they know their child will eat; they may have rules that they go along with, like not having any foods touching.

Maybe you are genuinely happy with your child eating a limited diet, but in my experience, this is unlikely. It can just seem so hard to imagine things being any different. If any of the following things are true for you, you are on the road to happier and healthier mealtimes:

  • I want us to eat a wider variety of foods as a family
  • I want us to be able to all eat the same things
  • I want to be able to enjoy meals out together
  • I want my child to find social situations involving food easy
  • I want my child to be an adventurous eater who enjoys food

If you can say “I want my child to have a better relationship with food and I’m ready to make some changes”  take heart, because you have already begun your journey. 

My next post will help you with what to do next.

Mess and your picky eater

Child In PuddleI have a two year old. This means that a lot of my time is spent picking food up from every visible surface (and some less visible ones… it’s amazing what the underside of a booster-seat can harbour). Sometimes this is frustrating, sometimes it’s plain disgusting. It is, however, essential. Here are three reasons why messy mealtimes are so important:

1.If you are feeling stressed and worried about mess, your child will pick up these feelings

So much of picky eating is about emotions.  I have written elsewhere about how children are little emotional sponges, subconsicously sensing all the feelings around them, even if they cannot always understand or interpret them. If you are anxious about your child making a mess, she will feel anxious too. This will without doubt negatively affect her eating.

2. If you make a big effort to avoid messy mealtimes, your child will learn that food  can be threatening

Continue reading

My interview with Dina Rose

American sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert, Dina Rose PhD is the author of the fantastic ‘It’s Not About the Broccoli’.

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I reviewed her book back in January and loved her approach. Like me, Dina helps parents understand that when it comes to feeding your kids, it’s more important to help them develop a positive relationship with food than to simply focus on getting as much healthy food down them as possible. Here’s how Dina answered my questions:

1.Can you tell my readers a bit about your journey into the world of picky eating? What made you decide to get involved in this field?

My mother died of obesity-related illnesses when I was pregnant with my daughter, over 13 years ago. She was only 65 years old. When my daughter was born, I was consumed with answering the question, “How do you teach kids to eat right?” Continue reading

Second helping time…

IMG_4529I love it when readers get in touch with their questions about picky eating. It’s funny how the same things come up again and again… It might feel like you are alone, but believe me, you’re not.  Despite unique situations and cultural differences, parents thousands of miles apart are going through the same things. When I got the following email from Sheila and Lisa about their two sons (aged 8 and 10)  and then a client asked me the same question the very next day, I felt it deserved a blog post. Here’s  part of what Sheila and Lisa wrote *

Hello, Ms. Cormack,

My partner and I read your book and loved it. TONIGHT we implemented the new system and we were thrilled with how well it worked. Our two boys, ages 8 and 10, certainly grumbled, and the youngest really pushed hard because he didn’t want to eat the corn on his plate. We held firm ……………….

……..As it turned out, he finally ate his corn and enjoyed some snicker noodle cookies for dessert. My partner and I are at an impasse on how to handle second helpings. She thinks we should let them have second helpings of their favorite items if they have at least tasted the item that they don’t want, say, maybe, three bites. I say no. We didn’t remember this being addressed in your book. Could you weigh in?
Thanks!
Lisa and Sheila

Continue reading