Does this image look familiar?
Fussy is the understatement, I hear you cry! He wont eat green or red coloured food, food which touches other food on his plate, he wont eat hot food, food that has been cut, ...........the list goes on doesn't it!
I bet you have tried all the tricks in the book; making shapes with the food, making aeroplane noises, having pretend names for the different foods, but nothing seems to work.
It gets embarrasing doesn't it? When he is on a play date, or at friends, especially at Grannies, when she has spent hours producing wonderful replica's of what ' Mummy' used to eat!'
But more than embarrassing, it's really frustrating and at times worrying, you spend hours trying to make a meal which you know is good for him and have even carefully adapted it to look like a train in the unlikely hope he may actually try something new!
Naturally you worry, is he getting enough food and enough of the right food?
The official NHS Guidelines suggest we should be more concerned about what our children eat over the course of the week rather than what they consume on a daily basis and only to worry if they are not active, growing and gaining weight. The NHS recommend children eat something from each of the main food groups (carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, dairy and fruit & veg) and obviously not too many treats!!
According to the NHS guidelines, it is normal for toddlers and young children to be very fussy and have irrational fears about certain foods, their advice is to introduce new foods gradually or re-introduce foods slowly that they have previously disliked.
So we spend an extortionate amount of money on food which regularly ends up in the bin, when we feel guilty about wastage so we finish it off rather than seeing it wasted.
I understand, my oldest son was that fussy child too!!
He lived on frubes for years, I think I probably turned into a master chief with all the different meals I prepared for him, God knows how much food was thrown in the bin - maybe thats why our dog loves him so much!! Or maybe that's why I put on so much weight - I didn't like to see it all go to waste!
For my son, the real break through was when he started growing his own tomatoes & potatoes, slowly he became more willing to try other produce we had grown. (nothing fancy just basic garden veggies!)
A strange thing happened then, as his interest in food grew (still limited to tomatoes and potatoes, but it was a start) I stopped worrying so much about what he was eating at each meal , as I took less and less notice of him at meal times, not overly praising him for a tiny nibble of something or getting stressed if he hadn't touched his food he slowly & carefully started to try new foods.
Looking back, possibly it was all about attention (mixed with a little fear of unknown foods) as soon as I stopped responding to his demands for attention and just got on with eating my food and so did his younger sister, without a squeek, he started eating!!
Now, I must say, there were other techniques I believe really helped too, we went shopping together each week and he chose his basket of food (Not treats!), it was mainly veg and fruit he ate, never meat. So I also took him to whole food shops where I pretended nuts, seeds, dried fruits were really special/naughty foods and he soon wanted to go there all the time and scoop up his own selection which he nibbled at throughout the day, a particularly useful trick to get protein in to fussy eaters! I also avoided huge supermarkets as the choice seemed to overwhelm him.
My two daughters have never had any problem with food, eating pretty much anything I put in front of them!! Whereas my son, even now at 12, still only eats fruit, veg, dairy, cereal, pasta, fish & nuts. He hasn't had refined sugar in well over a year (no sweets, biscuits, chocolate etc.) his only treat is the odd packed of Prawn Cocktail flavoured crisps!!
Infact, this blog has really highlighted to me that Ben only eats whatever I eat! I'm Veggie but have always cooked meat for my girls, whereas Ben has never enjoyed meat, always favouring a plate of veggies with nuts and seeds sprinkled over it, or maybe a boiled egg!
Over the years Ben's eating has always been a bone of contention in my family, however, as he has never enjoyed meat, processed or sugary foods, and his diet is very healthy, nutritious & balaced, why rock the boat making him conform to eating traditional childrens foods such as sausages, chips etc.which he detests?
I hope this helps as over the years Ben's eating has caused my whole family to worry, however, he is by far the healthiest, nutritionally conscious and most physically active of us all!!!
Top Tips For Fussy Eaters
Ensure your child sits with you at all mealtimes and talk a lot, so it's not just about the eating
Get their friends over or siblings friends for mealtimes so they see other children eating
Don't give them too many snacks & tactfully ask Grandparents/friends the same!
Give them time - may just be a slow eater - Try and arrange tea so you have time
Children's taste change so keep trying foods
Don't use food as a reward
Give small portions
Try not to feed them too late as tiredness and real hunger can cause tantrums
Grandparents for many work wonders, as often they have more time to sit and relax over a meal with your child, and children often want to impress them.
Good Luck, I hope this helps :)
Till the next time
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