FUSSY EATER MYTH #5: YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO EAT



mumsnet

It’s true that we have an incredible understanding now of what is required nutritionally-speaking for optimum health.

But there is concern amongst many health professionals that parents are frequently vastly over-estimating the amount of food children can and/or need to eat.

If a child relishes food and it becomes habitual to consistently eat larger than necessary portions, it is only too evident how this may contribute to the likelihood of obesity.

On the other hand, if a child insists that they are not hungry and/or cannot eat the full plate of food offered, a great deal of unnecessary stress can ensue for both parent and child.  And this can exacerbate or even cause fussy eating habits.

Either way, the danger is that the child is not encouraged to trust their internal hunger and satiation cues and doesn’t learn to tune in to their body’s unique needs.

Which is why I advocate that, for most children, if they say they’re not hungry, they’re probably not.

If they don’t finish their plate, they’re likely telling you that they’re full rather than being ‘fussy’.

And if they ask for a snack or they say they’re hungry a little while later, this could well be the case. A toddler’s fist is tiny, and this is the approx size of his tummy too – and sometimes even smaller. It fills quicker than ours, and empties quicker than ours; eating little and often makes a lot of sense.

So rather than overly-stressing when they don’t clear their plate or empty their lunchbox, can I suggest that we focus on being grateful that they’re still maintaining their innate capacity to listen to their body, and haven’t yet overridden or learnt to ignore this inner guidance.

I’m not denying it can be hard, but as far as possible, let’s give them the benefit of doubt and trust that they know their own body better than we do.

Let’s offer plenty of healthy choices, but ultimately let THEM tell US how much they need to eat and not the other way around.

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

I'm a mama of 3 and a parenting coach specialising in picky eating and mealtime stress.

I'm passionate about inspiring parents to enjoy mealtimes & help their children develop a healthy long-term relationship with food.

See here for the services I offer or email me for more info.  You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

FUSSY EATER MYTH #5: YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO EAT

It's true that we have an incredible understanding now of what is required nutritionally-speaking for optimum health. But there is concern amongst many health professionals that parents are frequently vastly over-estimating the amount of food children can and/or need...
Read More

WANT LESS STRESSFUL MEALTIMES? WANT TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FUSSY EATER?

(This article was originally posted on the Mother Tribe blog on 22.04.17) A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #4: CHILDREN REFUSE TO TRY NEW FOODS BECAUSE THEY ARE STUBBORN OR ‘TESTING’ BOUNDARIES

Without doubt children have very different personalities and some are much more on the feisty end of the scale than others, but this is NOT directly related to refusing to try or eat a particular food.  Passive, laid back children can be just as fussy when it comes to...
Read More

FLEXIBILITY IS ONE OF YOUR BEST MEALTIME FRIENDS

I remember reading something a while ago along the lines of, whenever you think you know or understand something always leave a space next to it in your brain for new information.  I’ve probably totally trashed a beautiful quote there and unfortunately, I have...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #3: YOU NEED TO MAKE FOOD MORE EXCITING & TRY SPECIAL RECIPES

You've seen these websites and resources, right? The ones that are aimed at helping you with your fussy eater that focus predominantly on recipes...recipes that even the fussiest of fussy eaters are allegedly 'guaranteed' to eat. Except even after you spend ages...
Read More

TEMPERAMENT & FUSSY EATING: IS YOUR CHILD A ‘SUPERTASTER’?

DO YOU HAVE A PICKY EATER?  DO YOU SOMETIMES BLAME  YOURSELF FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUSSY EATING? Please don't. I know it can sometimes seem like everyone else's children eat everything and yours just won’t. But it's really not true - limited food choice is extremely common...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #2: FUSSINESS STARTS AT AROUND 12-MONTHS-OLD AS BABY BECOMES MORE WILFUL

Well, it is certainly true that it is frequently around about this age that parents start to regret having told everyone that their child loves food and is such a ‘good’ eater. Very often it can seem like overnight they go from eating everything in sight to refusing...
Read More

WHAT’S MAKING YOUR CHILD ‘FUSSY’ WITH FOOD?

The trouble with many articles offering expert opinions about fussy eating and mealtime stress is that they tend to offer a couple of generic, one-sized fits all ‘solutions’ and fail to take into account that there are many different types of ‘fussy eater’ and quite a...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #1: YOUR CHILD MUST EAT A RAINBOW COLOURED PLATE AT EVERY MEAL

If you present your child with a beautifully colourful, perfectly balanced plate of food at every meal and they willingly gobble it all down - wow, consider yourself extremely blessed! But if not, try not to sweat it. This is very common for all children, not just the...
Read More

WEANING YOUR BABY: 4 ESSENTIAL TRUTHS FOR LONG TERM FUSS-FREE EATING

(This article was originally posted on at http://mammainpearls.com/weaning-your-baby/ on 03.04.17) Very often when it’s time to take the exciting leap to the weaning stage, our focus is so much on the present that we forget to think about the longer-term eating...
Read More

HERE’S HOW MANY EASTER EGGS I LET MY KIDS EAT..

When you SPECIFICALLY request a trusted relative NOT to buy chocolate for your kids for Easter (but a small inedible present instead)...and they do it anyway. And not even a small one; a very large, indulgent-looking one each. THIS I find mega frustrating. And...
Read More

INSISTING ON ‘TASTING’ IS NOT THE ANSWER TO PICKY EATING

Imagine that you popped over to my house for a cuppa and I put a plate of snacks in front of you. And then instead of saying, "Here, help yourself!" I said, "Look at this yummy food I've got for you, try it! Have some! Just one little bite, go on, I'll give you a...
Read More

WHEN THEY DON’T EAT WHAT YOU KNOW THEY LIKE…

"But you LOVE chicken and rice! Here, have some chicken and rice!" "Don't like chicken and rice." "Yes you DO, you ate a whole bowlful the other day!" Do you ever find yourself having this sort of crazy-making conversation with your toddler or child? You kind of know...
Read More

MY JOURNEY TO FUSS-FREE EATING

I think even as a very young child I knew deep down that being ‘forced’ to eat and rigid mealtime rules just weren't right. I remember sitting at the dining table feeling so confused; I wasn't particular hungry, I'd eaten all the ‘nice’ bits on my plate, and just the...
Read More

HOW TO HANDLE “I HATE YOU MUMMY!”

Hearing these words for the first time from your sweet, innocent ‘baby’ is pretty gutting really.
I had asked my 7-year-old to start tidying away the Lego as it was bedtime soon, and he replied, “No Mummy, I’m still building this.” I could hear he was fairly cross and passionate, and so thinking I was being quite reasonable, I said,

Read More

DO YOU HAVE A FUSSY EATER? ARE YOU FED UP WITH MEALTIMES?

 

 

Click here to apply

 to join my
6 week, one-to-one, Fuss-Free Eating for Life coaching programme

 

 

APPLY NOW

WANT LESS STRESSFUL MEALTIMES? WANT TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FUSSY EATER?



mumsnet

(This article was originally posted on the Mother Tribe blog on 22.04.17)

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family.

Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily rhythms = headache on a grand scale.

And as much as I sometimes longed to be one of those like-it-or-lump-it Mamas who rigidly adhere to their own timetable, only cook one thing and forbid the eating of anything else, I couldn’t do it.

Memories of my own miserable mealtime experiences and later battle with an eating disorder also made me reluctant to force feed, or to battle with my own kids over food.

Embracing a peaceful, respectful, conscious approach to parenting changed all aspects of my parenting experience so much for the better.

But applying this to eating?  This I found so much harder.  I spent a long time trying to make sense of the huge amount of information out there, much of it contradictory.

I will spare you the examples for now, but suffice it to say that initially I found it all mega confusing.

So what changed?  How did I finally get to a place of clarity and peace?

I’ll tell you; it was a simple process of working backwards. 

And by this I mean, thinking about what I wanted for my children in the long term.  Working out what I didn’t want my children to associate with food in the future. 

For example, I imagine that like me you don’t want your children to associate eating with feeling loved and ‘good’ and comforted, right?  And you don’t want them to eat by the clock even if they’re not at all hungry?  And you don’t want them to associate eating cake or ice cream with being a naughty treat that they only deserve if they are ‘good’ and already full from main course, right?

And yet, with a traditional approach to eating and mealtimes these are all messages our children are hearing.  Particularly when…

  • We have rigid rules about when they can and can’t eat
  • We insist they eat everything on their plate
  • We forbid pudding until they eat their ‘healthy’ main course
  • We use all manner of techniques to coerce and distract them to ‘get’ them to eat
  • We talk in their earshot about our own diets or being ‘naughty’ having that cake

None of these things normalise the process of eating or teach children to eat purely for nourishment and enjoyment.

None of these approaches convey trust in our child to utilise their incredible innate capacity to know what their own body needs and to choose accordingly.

And surely we owe it to our children to get out of their way and give them the freedom to do this.   We owe it to them to find a way to stop the growing problem in the western world with compulsive eating, with obesity, with eating disorders.   And we owe it to ourselves to find a way to make things less stressful, and find a simpler way that we can feel calm and confident about.

So I urge you to consider whether the path you are on at present is the one you truly want to continue with, and whether you are giving your children the messages that you really want them to hear.  I urge you to consider whether winning the short-term eat your greens battle is truly worth it at the expense of a healthy life-long relationship with food.

Let me clarify again; the easiest way you can make mealtimes less stressful and make the biggest impact on your ‘fussy’ eaters is to re-visit your whole approach to mealtimes and think of it only in terms of what habits you want to develop and teach for the long term.

Here’s a few things it might help to think about more specifically:

  • Get realistic about how much your child actually needs to eat.  We tend to vastly overestimate our children’s appetites.  Very roughly, their tummies are the size of their fists, but sometimes even smaller.  Vegetables, in particular, are very bulky.  If they say they’ve had enough and are full, they probably are.
  • Children eat more when they are growing and not in order to grow.  So their eating patterns and requirements will vary greatly according to the particular stage of development they are in.  Babies up until the age of one, for example, eat a ton more in proportion to their size than they will again until they are teenagers.  So when at this age they appear to become ‘fussy’, very often it’s merely because they no longer need to eat so much.
  • Examine who your current food schedule suits and what the rationale is behind three square meals a day.  As stated above, children have varied but generally significantly smaller tummies than we always remember.  Eating little and often may well be what suits their appetite and metabolism the best.
  • If you are happy for your children to eat sweet things and puddings, consider what the logic is behind having it after the main course, and the message you are sending if you are requiring a clear main course plate first.  What do you fear would happen if they have their fruit or yoghurt or fruit lolly presented at the same time as the main course?
  • What are you (and any other adults in the household) modelling to your children about eating and mealtimes?  Do they see you enjoying a varied diet, respecting your body, and enjoying both sweet and savoury food equally?  If not, what messages are your eating habits (and your partner’s) sending to your children?
HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

I'm a mama of 3 and a parenting coach specialising in picky eating and mealtime stress.

I'm passionate about inspiring parents to enjoy mealtimes & help their children develop a healthy long-term relationship with food.

See here for the services I offer or email me for more info.  You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

FUSSY EATER MYTH #5: YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO EAT

It's true that we have an incredible understanding now of what is required nutritionally-speaking for optimum health. But there is concern amongst many health professionals that parents are frequently vastly over-estimating the amount of food children can and/or need...
Read More

WANT LESS STRESSFUL MEALTIMES? WANT TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FUSSY EATER?

(This article was originally posted on the Mother Tribe blog on 22.04.17) A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #4: CHILDREN REFUSE TO TRY NEW FOODS BECAUSE THEY ARE STUBBORN OR ‘TESTING’ BOUNDARIES

Without doubt children have very different personalities and some are much more on the feisty end of the scale than others, but this is NOT directly related to refusing to try or eat a particular food.  Passive, laid back children can be just as fussy when it comes to...
Read More

FLEXIBILITY IS ONE OF YOUR BEST MEALTIME FRIENDS

I remember reading something a while ago along the lines of, whenever you think you know or understand something always leave a space next to it in your brain for new information.  I’ve probably totally trashed a beautiful quote there and unfortunately, I have...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #3: YOU NEED TO MAKE FOOD MORE EXCITING & TRY SPECIAL RECIPES

You've seen these websites and resources, right? The ones that are aimed at helping you with your fussy eater that focus predominantly on recipes...recipes that even the fussiest of fussy eaters are allegedly 'guaranteed' to eat. Except even after you spend ages...
Read More

TEMPERAMENT & FUSSY EATING: IS YOUR CHILD A ‘SUPERTASTER’?

DO YOU HAVE A PICKY EATER?  DO YOU SOMETIMES BLAME  YOURSELF FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUSSY EATING? Please don't. I know it can sometimes seem like everyone else's children eat everything and yours just won’t. But it's really not true - limited food choice is extremely common...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #2: FUSSINESS STARTS AT AROUND 12-MONTHS-OLD AS BABY BECOMES MORE WILFUL

Well, it is certainly true that it is frequently around about this age that parents start to regret having told everyone that their child loves food and is such a ‘good’ eater. Very often it can seem like overnight they go from eating everything in sight to refusing...
Read More

WHAT’S MAKING YOUR CHILD ‘FUSSY’ WITH FOOD?

The trouble with many articles offering expert opinions about fussy eating and mealtime stress is that they tend to offer a couple of generic, one-sized fits all ‘solutions’ and fail to take into account that there are many different types of ‘fussy eater’ and quite a...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #1: YOUR CHILD MUST EAT A RAINBOW COLOURED PLATE AT EVERY MEAL

If you present your child with a beautifully colourful, perfectly balanced plate of food at every meal and they willingly gobble it all down - wow, consider yourself extremely blessed! But if not, try not to sweat it. This is very common for all children, not just the...
Read More

WEANING YOUR BABY: 4 ESSENTIAL TRUTHS FOR LONG TERM FUSS-FREE EATING

(This article was originally posted on at http://mammainpearls.com/weaning-your-baby/ on 03.04.17) Very often when it’s time to take the exciting leap to the weaning stage, our focus is so much on the present that we forget to think about the longer-term eating...
Read More

HERE’S HOW MANY EASTER EGGS I LET MY KIDS EAT..

When you SPECIFICALLY request a trusted relative NOT to buy chocolate for your kids for Easter (but a small inedible present instead)...and they do it anyway. And not even a small one; a very large, indulgent-looking one each. THIS I find mega frustrating. And...
Read More

INSISTING ON ‘TASTING’ IS NOT THE ANSWER TO PICKY EATING

Imagine that you popped over to my house for a cuppa and I put a plate of snacks in front of you. And then instead of saying, "Here, help yourself!" I said, "Look at this yummy food I've got for you, try it! Have some! Just one little bite, go on, I'll give you a...
Read More

WHEN THEY DON’T EAT WHAT YOU KNOW THEY LIKE…

"But you LOVE chicken and rice! Here, have some chicken and rice!" "Don't like chicken and rice." "Yes you DO, you ate a whole bowlful the other day!" Do you ever find yourself having this sort of crazy-making conversation with your toddler or child? You kind of know...
Read More

MY JOURNEY TO FUSS-FREE EATING

I think even as a very young child I knew deep down that being ‘forced’ to eat and rigid mealtime rules just weren't right. I remember sitting at the dining table feeling so confused; I wasn't particular hungry, I'd eaten all the ‘nice’ bits on my plate, and just the...
Read More

HOW TO HANDLE “I HATE YOU MUMMY!”

Hearing these words for the first time from your sweet, innocent ‘baby’ is pretty gutting really.
I had asked my 7-year-old to start tidying away the Lego as it was bedtime soon, and he replied, “No Mummy, I’m still building this.” I could hear he was fairly cross and passionate, and so thinking I was being quite reasonable, I said,

Read More

DO YOU HAVE A FUSSY EATER? ARE YOU FED UP WITH MEALTIMES?

 

 

Click here to apply

 to join my
6 week, one-to-one, Fuss-Free Eating for Life coaching programme

 

 

APPLY NOW

FUSSY EATER MYTH #4: CHILDREN REFUSE TO TRY NEW FOODS BECAUSE THEY ARE STUBBORN OR ‘TESTING’ BOUNDARIES



mumsnet

Without doubt children have very different personalities and some are much more on the feisty end of the scale than others, but this is NOT directly related to refusing to try or eat a particular food.  Passive, laid back children can be just as fussy when it comes to food as extremely big characters.  In fact, some estimates now suggest that around 50% of children will be identified as ‘fussy’ at some point.

And here’s one of the main reasons why…

At around 18 months it is extremely common for children to develop a degree of what psychologists refer to as neophobia, fear of new foods.   It is thought to be the remnants of a survival instinct to keep newly mobile neanderthal toddler safe from eating new foods such as berries that could potentially have been poisonous.

So, they are not being stubborn but just protecting themselves – and as annoying as it is, it’s also pretty clever!

Some of the forms that neophobia can take include refusal of any food that:

>> They have not been seen before

>> They have had before but that looks slightly different e.g. different packaging, different type or shape cracker, different colour jelly

>> Looks like something they tasted once and disliked

>> Is broken (e.g. biscuit) or has black or brown specks in it e.g. Burnt toast or banana seeds

>> Is mixed together so they can’t see what it is made up of

>> Is touching or contaminated by a food that they don’t like

>> Looks like something disgusting e.g. spaghetti because it looks like worms or I remember my son refusing to eat a rice cake because he could ‘see’ a spider in it.

So when you understand WHY this behaviour is happening and that your child is not being ‘difficult’ but is genuinely afraid and unable to explain or understand it themselves, it makes it a LITTLE easier to tolerate!

The good news is that these fears tend to pass by around age 6.

The bad news is that if we are unprepared for this stage and are unsure how to handle it, we can easily make it worse and BECOME a longer-term problem.  This is particularly the case if it causes significant parental tension and stress and the child starts to feel controlled or to associate strong emotions with mealtimes or particular foods.

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

I'm a mama of 3 and a parenting coach specialising in picky eating and mealtime stress.

I'm passionate about inspiring parents to enjoy mealtimes & help their children develop a healthy long-term relationship with food.

See here for the services I offer or email me for more info.  You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

FUSSY EATER MYTH #5: YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO EAT

It's true that we have an incredible understanding now of what is required nutritionally-speaking for optimum health. But there is concern amongst many health professionals that parents are frequently vastly over-estimating the amount of food children can and/or need...
Read More

WANT LESS STRESSFUL MEALTIMES? WANT TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FUSSY EATER?

(This article was originally posted on the Mother Tribe blog on 22.04.17) A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #4: CHILDREN REFUSE TO TRY NEW FOODS BECAUSE THEY ARE STUBBORN OR ‘TESTING’ BOUNDARIES

Without doubt children have very different personalities and some are much more on the feisty end of the scale than others, but this is NOT directly related to refusing to try or eat a particular food.  Passive, laid back children can be just as fussy when it comes to...
Read More

FLEXIBILITY IS ONE OF YOUR BEST MEALTIME FRIENDS

I remember reading something a while ago along the lines of, whenever you think you know or understand something always leave a space next to it in your brain for new information.  I’ve probably totally trashed a beautiful quote there and unfortunately, I have...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #3: YOU NEED TO MAKE FOOD MORE EXCITING & TRY SPECIAL RECIPES

You've seen these websites and resources, right? The ones that are aimed at helping you with your fussy eater that focus predominantly on recipes...recipes that even the fussiest of fussy eaters are allegedly 'guaranteed' to eat. Except even after you spend ages...
Read More

TEMPERAMENT & FUSSY EATING: IS YOUR CHILD A ‘SUPERTASTER’?

DO YOU HAVE A PICKY EATER?  DO YOU SOMETIMES BLAME  YOURSELF FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUSSY EATING? Please don't. I know it can sometimes seem like everyone else's children eat everything and yours just won’t. But it's really not true - limited food choice is extremely common...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #2: FUSSINESS STARTS AT AROUND 12-MONTHS-OLD AS BABY BECOMES MORE WILFUL

Well, it is certainly true that it is frequently around about this age that parents start to regret having told everyone that their child loves food and is such a ‘good’ eater. Very often it can seem like overnight they go from eating everything in sight to refusing...
Read More

WHAT’S MAKING YOUR CHILD ‘FUSSY’ WITH FOOD?

The trouble with many articles offering expert opinions about fussy eating and mealtime stress is that they tend to offer a couple of generic, one-sized fits all ‘solutions’ and fail to take into account that there are many different types of ‘fussy eater’ and quite a...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #1: YOUR CHILD MUST EAT A RAINBOW COLOURED PLATE AT EVERY MEAL

If you present your child with a beautifully colourful, perfectly balanced plate of food at every meal and they willingly gobble it all down - wow, consider yourself extremely blessed! But if not, try not to sweat it. This is very common for all children, not just the...
Read More

WEANING YOUR BABY: 4 ESSENTIAL TRUTHS FOR LONG TERM FUSS-FREE EATING

(This article was originally posted on at http://mammainpearls.com/weaning-your-baby/ on 03.04.17) Very often when it’s time to take the exciting leap to the weaning stage, our focus is so much on the present that we forget to think about the longer-term eating...
Read More

HERE’S HOW MANY EASTER EGGS I LET MY KIDS EAT..

When you SPECIFICALLY request a trusted relative NOT to buy chocolate for your kids for Easter (but a small inedible present instead)...and they do it anyway. And not even a small one; a very large, indulgent-looking one each. THIS I find mega frustrating. And...
Read More

INSISTING ON ‘TASTING’ IS NOT THE ANSWER TO PICKY EATING

Imagine that you popped over to my house for a cuppa and I put a plate of snacks in front of you. And then instead of saying, "Here, help yourself!" I said, "Look at this yummy food I've got for you, try it! Have some! Just one little bite, go on, I'll give you a...
Read More

WHEN THEY DON’T EAT WHAT YOU KNOW THEY LIKE…

"But you LOVE chicken and rice! Here, have some chicken and rice!" "Don't like chicken and rice." "Yes you DO, you ate a whole bowlful the other day!" Do you ever find yourself having this sort of crazy-making conversation with your toddler or child? You kind of know...
Read More

MY JOURNEY TO FUSS-FREE EATING

I think even as a very young child I knew deep down that being ‘forced’ to eat and rigid mealtime rules just weren't right. I remember sitting at the dining table feeling so confused; I wasn't particular hungry, I'd eaten all the ‘nice’ bits on my plate, and just the...
Read More

HOW TO HANDLE “I HATE YOU MUMMY!”

Hearing these words for the first time from your sweet, innocent ‘baby’ is pretty gutting really.
I had asked my 7-year-old to start tidying away the Lego as it was bedtime soon, and he replied, “No Mummy, I’m still building this.” I could hear he was fairly cross and passionate, and so thinking I was being quite reasonable, I said,

Read More

DO YOU HAVE A FUSSY EATER? ARE YOU FED UP WITH MEALTIMES?

 

 

Click here to apply

 to join my
6 week, one-to-one, Fuss-Free Eating for Life coaching programme

 

 

APPLY NOW

FLEXIBILITY IS ONE OF YOUR BEST MEALTIME FRIENDS



mumsnet

I remember reading something a while ago along the lines of, whenever you think you know or understand something always leave a space next to it in your brain for new information.  I’ve probably totally trashed a beautiful quote there and unfortunately, I have absolutely no clue where I saw it, but the sentiment really struck and stayed with me.

I think it’s just very relevant and applicable to kids and parenting –  although possibly more specifically something like, don’t for goodness sake assume you are sorted with something, or a particular phase has past, or that, god forbid, you know what you’re doing!

I’ve learnt this the hard way.  Daring to utter YES, MINE ALL SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT = instant sleepless nights for weeks on end.  Casually sharing with a friend NO, WE DON’T CO-SLEEP, WE’VE NEVER NEEDED TO = the sudden appearance of a toddler in our bed for several months straight.

So, when the other day a Mum responded to what I do with a breezy, “Oh I know loads of people who have fussy eaters, but mine are amazing, they eat everything I feed them, I think they already know they have to as that’s the rules in our house”, I’ll admit, I kind of whispered a little prayer for her.

Her twins are 11 months.

Yes, she could well be one of the extremely rare lucky ones who have children who eat anything and everything from day one and grow into adults who relish food and make healthy choices with gusto.

And I truly so hope this is the case.

But for most children, the truth is that taste, appetite, inclination, concentration change ALL the time.   Sometimes predictably (growth spurt, illness, life event etc.) but others apparently randomly.

And if your approach to mealtimes doesn’t allow a little flexibility, doesn’t allow a little room for manoeuver, I’m sorry to say you’re likely going to be in for a bit of a shock.

And sadly too, there is a good chance that this rigidity will inadvertently but oh so gradually turn into a battle of wills, a battle for control, an anxiety-fuelled push for that senselessly coveted clean plate.

And in the process, you will gradually be eroding your child’s enjoyment of food, your connection with your child and their trust in you, and switching off their innate potential to know when they are hungry or full.

Which is why my approach to eating is all about paying attention to what we are teaching our children, to the messages we are sending them about food and their body, and to the ideal future outcome we want for them in terms of their relationship with food. 

And yes, it’s also most definitely about flexibility.  About always leaving space in our brain for absorbing new information, changing circumstances, and most importantly, what our children are telling us.

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

I'm a mama of 3 and a parenting coach specialising in picky eating and mealtime stress.

I'm passionate about inspiring parents to enjoy mealtimes & help their children develop a healthy long-term relationship with food.

See here for the services I offer or email me for more info.  You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

FUSSY EATER MYTH #5: YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO EAT

It's true that we have an incredible understanding now of what is required nutritionally-speaking for optimum health. But there is concern amongst many health professionals that parents are frequently vastly over-estimating the amount of food children can and/or need...
Read More

WANT LESS STRESSFUL MEALTIMES? WANT TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FUSSY EATER?

(This article was originally posted on the Mother Tribe blog on 22.04.17) A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with...
Read More

FUSSY EATER MYTH #4: CHILDREN REFUSE TO TRY NEW FOODS BECAUSE THEY ARE STUBBORN OR ‘TESTING’ BOUNDARIES

Without doubt children have very different personalities and some are much more on the feisty end of the scale than others, but this is NOT directly related to refusing to try or eat a particular food.  Passive, laid back children can be just as fussy when it comes to...
Read More

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DO YOU HAVE A FUSSY EATER? ARE YOU FED UP WITH MEALTIMES?

 

 

Click here to apply

 to join my
6 week, one-to-one, Fuss-Free Eating for Life coaching programme

 

 

APPLY NOW

FUSSY EATER MYTH #3: YOU NEED TO MAKE FOOD MORE EXCITING & TRY SPECIAL RECIPES



mumsnet

You’ve seen these websites and resources, right? The ones that are aimed at helping you with your fussy eater that focus predominantly on recipes…recipes that even the fussiest of fussy eaters are allegedly ‘guaranteed’ to eat.

Except even after you spend ages planning, shopping for the ingredients and somehow finding the energy to cobble them together, YOUR child doesn’t eat them.

So now you have a child who not only isn’t eating the ‘normal’ range of food, s/he’s also not eating food apparently specifically designed for picky eaters!

So that feels like a double fail then – mega disheartening or what??

But please be reassured – it’s NOT your cooking skills, it’s NOT that your child purposely wants to wind you up or is being difficult, and it’s NOT that there’s anything especially wrong with your child.

Because the thing is, as well-meaning as these recipes and creative food ideas are, most of the time they are taking us in the wrong direction.

A picky eater will not eat certain foods no matter how many smiley faces you adorn it with or dinosaurs you contort it into. If a child is genuinely afraid of eating an orange, the fact that it is cut into a smile shape is not realistically going to alleviate these fears.

Similarly, if a child is genuinely not hungry or genuinely dislikes fish cakes, the fact that they are shaped as fish is really pretty irrelevant.

And even if it possibly does help a little or for a short while, the problem with focusing on these aspects is that they are not getting to the root cause of the eating issue. They’re just sticking plasters really and will pretty soon fall off and you’ll be back to square one.

I also worry that the focus on this type of information does little to prevent fussy eating from becoming a long term issue. In fact, I suspect sometimes it makes it WORSE.

Because if you’re promised a recipe that ALL children will supposedly devour, you bust a gut to make it, and are then met with a firm “YUCK I’M NOT EATING THAT”, it takes a LOT to react in a way that is helpful rather than detrimental. It’s really NOT easy to stay calm and relaxed. It’s really NOT easy to hide your disappointment and restrain yourself from force feeding it to the little rugrats or storming out in a huff.

So you see, it makes me a teensy bit frustrated; as pretty and as tasty as many of these recipes may be, they rarely truly help the picky eater or mealtime stress situation.

This is why you so don’t need to go there, honestly, it’s a waste of your precious energy and just NOT necessary.

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR

I'm a mama of 3 and a parenting coach specialising in picky eating and mealtime stress.

I'm passionate about inspiring parents to enjoy mealtimes & help their children develop a healthy long-term relationship with food.

See here for the services I offer or email me for more info.  You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

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DO YOU HAVE A FUSSY EATER? ARE YOU FED UP WITH MEALTIMES?

 

 

Click here to apply

 to join my
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APPLY NOW

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