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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3 ways an open cup can help prevent picky eating

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Everything you need to know about picky eating and open cups

(… and I’m doing a give-away too! )

People I have worked with will know that I am always banging on about the merits of the open cup. I often meet parents of toddlers with eating problems who still drink from a bottle with a teat. This is really common – it’s extremely easy to get stuck with a habit that is comforting to your child, especially if it’s part of your bedtime routine. Making transitions like this ( for example, ditching dummies / pacifiers) takes time and energy that are in short supply for most parents. Continue reading

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.

Festive family meals – happy holidays or a recipe for stress?

 

xmas24For the most part, children’s mealtime behaviour happens behind closed doors.  However, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or a feast day from another cultural tradition, big family meals mean eating in front of many people  – often a time when parents of fussy eaters feel judged.  Many parents tell me that they avoid revealing the full extent of their child’s restricted eating because they are embarrassed about it or feel that it’s some kind of reflection on them. At big family meals, there’s nowhere to hide.

If you are worried about making it through to the new year without any  food dramas, follow these three tips: Continue reading

Toddlers – feed them the same as the rest of the family!

My last post was all about what research tells us about the importance of eating together as a family whenever possible. When I  came across a study earlier this week about the impact of feeding children the same meal as the rest of the family, it seemed like the ideal follow on.  Eat together – eat the same.

bigstock-Beef-Fajitas-42692830My model, EAF, is based around a few key principles and rules. One of these, which I have written about elsewhere , is “Serve everybody everything“. The logic behind this  has several strands to it.

1. The factor that has the most influence on how children eat is how the people around them eat. This is what psychologists call modelling. It makes sense then, that if children are given the same food as the adults in their family, they are more likely to consider more foods and flavours acceptable than if they are given separate, blander dishes. Continue reading