How to get your child to eat lunch! Tips

child to eat lunch

When kids don’t eat their lunch at school or daycare it can be very stressful and frustrating for the parents. You’re not there with them so there’s nothing you can do about their eating habits!

 

There are 2 extremes that people often speak to me about.

 

  • The overhelpful kindy/daycare

These are the very strict teachers who force the child to eat everything in their lunchbox before they can leave the table. Although they have good intentions, this often causes a lot of stress for the child left sitting by themselves and actually makes them more reluctant to try that food again.

 

Tips:

Make sure the teachers know your routine and strategies and are happy to go along with that.

Don’t give them too much choice or too much food. They will feel happier if you give them less food that they can realistically finish. Build up the amount once they’re in the habit of eating the food in their lunchbox.

Don’t give them something new that they will struggle to taste, far less eat. If you book a consultation we can find the best time in your day to try new food in a stress-free, relaxed environment.

 

  • School distractions

School and daycares are very busy places. Kids finish eating and rush off to play, so yours does too – whether or not they’ve eaten much lunch.

 

Tips:

Encourage your child to help you choose some lunch food (from  choice you give them). Give them small amounts so they get in the habit of eating a few foods in there then start to bulk up the amount.

 

There are so many other things to take into account so if you would like some more details or you would like to find out what Little Bites could do for your child book a free consultation or send me an email to [email protected]

 

Food to try for slow eaters or those not interested in eating lots

Remember that for challenging eaters, something is better than nothing and trying new food will be most successful at home, then can be put into lunchboxes.

Savoury muffins

Sweet veggie muffins

Wraps

Wholemeal bread

Scrolls (vegemite, cheese, pizza with amazing disappearing spinach pizza sauce)

Protein – cheese, meat – cold chicken, ham, cold sausage/sausage roll

Yoghurt – can have fruit pieces/stewed fruit, oats etc on top

Banana or other more filling fruits

sushi

Dips like hummus, guacamole or sour cream for rice cakes or veggies

Quiche

Eggs in various form

Plain popcorn

Homemade muesli bars

Pasta with a sauce, meatballs, pesto, even with shredded chicken and cream cheese stirred together

nuts/seeds/trail mix/peanut butter (depending on the allergy rules at your school)

Salmon (my kids favourite) or tuna

 

Things to avoid overloading on

 

Food that will give them a little sugar rush then make them crash just in time to try to learn should be minimised. Nutritionally empty foods won’t give them what they need to get through the day and you’ll end up with the healthier food left in the lunchbox and a HANGRY child at pickup or dinnertime.

Some carbs are important in our diet but if your child just has carbs, salt and sugar at lunch they’ll suffer later on in the day. When giving them less nutritious food in their lunch box, give smaller amounts or they’ll fill up on this and ignore the slow release energy foods that are important for learning.

 

What to do when they constantly tell you “I’m not hungry”

not hungry

There are different reasons why you hear those 3 little words you dread “I’m not hungry”. A few people have asked recently what to feed their child who is never hungry to keep them healthy and growing. Sometimes it’s tempting to give them all the chippies and biscuits they want when they do ask for food but we really need to get some nutrition into them when we get the chance.

 

Medication

Some medications cause loss of appetite. For these kids, we need to work on high (good) fat food to get in all the nutrition and keep them growing. With a challenging eater, this can be tricky! Have a look at my list at the bottom of the page of some great foods to feed your child who’s “not hungry”.

If you don’t know why your child is never hungry, there are a couple things to check.

Take a food diary for a week

Snacking can be a sneaky cause for loss of appetite. Sometimes kids can eat way more than we realise through snacking, especially when they help themselves – and usually they don’t choose the food we’d like them to. If they are constantly grazing but never hungry for dinner this is something to check out.

Even if they aren’t snacking a lot, maybe they’re snacking too close to meals.

Do they have a Magnesium deficiency?

If your child is never hungry and doesn’t even snack, they could have a Magnesium deficiency which can cause loss of appetite. If your child is never hungry this could be something to check.

Alternatively it could be that they’re used to eating small portions through the day as that’s what their body has got used to.

Food to help them gain/maintain weight

Try to replace refined sugar and nutritionless snacks with cubes of cheese, slices of banana and apple slices with peanut butter on.

Use full-fat milk with their cereal and to drink.

Greek yoghurt is full of good fats. Get the unsweetened one and add your own frozen berries, apple chunks, stewed fruits or honey, sprinkle oats or seed on top… (or buy the flavoured ones but they obviously have more sugar)

Porridge: protein, calcium, magnesium… there’s so much in it that’s great for you!

Cheese

Peanut butter

Bananas

Beans

Eggs

Fish

Root vegetables

Smoothies: put in oats, banana, greek yoghurt and maybe some veggies too?

Banana pancakes: 1 mashed banana, 1 whisked egg: mix them together then fry

How to get your child to eat dinner: some tips

get your child to eat dinner

Is dinner time stressful?
Is it the same food over and over?
Is anything new uneaten?
Do you make multiple meals?
Do you worry about how much food is wasted?  Does it feel like you just can’t get your child to eat dinner?

If dinner time is stressful there are ways to turn it around. If it’s stressful for you there’s every chance it’s also stressful for your challenging eater too. Stress will make them more resistant to the foods that are being forced onto them. Here are some things to think about and some tips to get your child to eat dinner.

Does your child eat variety through the day?

If your child eats a fruit and veg filled smoothie for breakfast, carrot sticks and apple at afternoon tea and cucumber, grapes and an egg at lunch and some meat at some point through the day then you can be a little more lenient at dinner. Lots of younger children get very tired by dinner; when they start school this can get even worse.  At kindy and especially school, kids spend all day being well behaved and learning new things. Unfortunately, when they get home they are exhausted and by dinner time trying or learning something new is the last thing on their mind!

If their diet’s OK but through the day but could be better, you can squeeze some more fruits, veggies or high protein, high iron food in earlier in the day, before they burn out. If they struggle to eat healthy food at all you can book a free initial consultation with me to find out how Little Bites can help your child.

Does your child have an aversion to mixed food?

Stir fry, cottage pie, spaghetti bolognaise… Sometimes it’s much easier for challenging eaters to cope if you put the separate ingredients on their plate (not touching), and it’s not extra work for you! I actually have a client who came back to me and said that since starting our programme her son has learned how to try new food and will now try most things she offers him at dinner – as long as it’s on a separate plate. Check out what results other clients have had here.

Does your child have an aversion to certain textures?

What’s the one your child likes? There’s no point offering a crunch lover something very wet or soft if your main aim is that they eat “something healthy” at dinner time. Match it to your child’s preferences if you can. Want them to eat a carrot? Offer it raw or lightly steamed, even grated! If they love wet, liquidy food offer soup at dinner. If you do that, it’s much more likely that you’ll get your child to eat dinner.

Does your child snack through the day?

Children who snack are much less likely to eat at dinner time. They also rarely get hungry enough to try the new food that you’d love to add to their diet.

Some Tips

Do not bribe with pudding!

Bribing with other food reinforces “yummy” and “yucky” food. The minute you stop bribing, they will usually stop trying or eating new food.

Give small portions

I know you want them to eat more not less, but if you give really small portions, you’re setting your kids up for success. They can see it’s achievable. If they feel proud of themselves for finishing their 3 peas and you praise them for that it’s much better for their mindset than giving them more than they can finish and having them feel like they can never finish everything. If they finish a small amount of food and want more of something that’s fine. You can build up the amount and how often they have them once you’ve taken that first small step, and that first little bite.

Give small choices

Will we have peas or corn?

Which colour plate do you want; red or green?

Do you want this on top or beside the rice?

If you give 2 options kids can cope, if you give them too much control or too many choices they can’t cope, you’ll waste a lot of time and food and nothing will get any better. Small choices make the child feel in control but not overwhelmed, that’s really inportant when it comes to getting your child to eat dinner.

Don’t say “finish what’s on your plate”

They can finish when they’re full (but they’re full so nothing else after that unless it’s some fruit/veggie sticks or a yoghurt a couple hours later)
Kids need to listen to their body and finishing what’s on their plate, no matter how much or little is on their will set up bad habits. It’s better to give smaller amounts and then ask “do you need more of anything or are you full?”

What to feed your challenging eater

what to feed picky eaters

After our Facebook texture challenge last week I hope some of you understand a little bit better the types of textures your child likes, and the textures that they find it more difficult to eat.

Texture is so important when it comes to expanding our kids’ diets and what to feed picky eaters.

When people ask “what should I feed my picky eater?” online I see often people suggest “hide veggies in smoothies”. If your child hates wet food, seeds, little lumps or drinking thick liquids then they won’t touch the smoothie with a barge pole. It’s the same for every food and texture. All kids are different and all challenging eaters are different. What works for one, another will dislike. When it comes to what to feed picky eaters, texture is key. When I make up your strategies and resources I look at the food diaries to see what food is being eaten, offered, and rejected. While it’s so important to always offer tastes, (never assume they won’t like it because that could be something they taste willingly and really enjoy) it’s great to know which way to cook it!

It is so much easier to match the food you want them to eat to their texture to get them eating more variety before you start pushing the textural boundaries and expecting “crunchy” kids to eat “mushy” food straight away.

Tips:

Think outside the box and offer frozen blueberries and raw or grated veggies and air fry up some meatballs for crunch lovers (and you can hide veggies in there for extra nutrition).

Offer smoothies, yoghurt with stewed fruit or smooth soup full of meat and veggies for kids that like wet food.

Muffins with veggies sweetened with honey, fruit, meat etc and pasta bakes with lots of veggies and soft meat are often better for those who feel more comfortable with soft food.

Think about their eating over a day and week: do they eat more at lunch or dinner? Maybe that’s the best time for them or they prefer that style of meal.

Take a note of what they eat over a week – it’s easier to see textural preferences and people are often surprised by the variety (or if you think “that looks bad written down!” sign up for a free inital consultation)

Help! They’ve stopped eating!

stopped eating getting enough nutrients

Sometimes things happen in life to make our challenging eaters eat even less! Maybe they’ve been making great progress but suddenly stopped eating the food you’ve been working on, or maybe they’re dropping food that you rely on to give them some nutrients. Here’s why that could be happening and how to deal with it.

 

They’re bored of the same food everyday

This is a massive problem for those kids who struggle to try new food. They become bored of the same food every day but can’t replace it with anything else so they eat less variety. Eventually parents are stuck with a couple of fruits, vegetables and meats or dinners they can sserve up. Little Bites strategies are perfect for those kids who would love to have a sleepover and eat the same as their friends, are starting to get bored of the same food every day, or are stuck in a rut when it comes to tasting food. If your child has stopped eating certain food groups get in touch to see how Little Ites can help.

Sickness

When kids are sick they go off their food. It is normal that they’ve stopped eating as much as usual but if you’re concerned they’ll get into worse eating habits, try to make sure that the food offered while they’re sick will help them get better, improve their health but will still be eaten or drunk. Relax your expectations about how much they will eat, let them eat when they are hungry but try to have those few healthy foods they will eat – whether that is that 1 vegetable, yoghurt, smoothies, a particular fruit –  pureed, sliced and peeled… however they find it easiest. They aren’t feeling great so make it as easy for them as you can. Just make sure that when they’re feeling better you start up their strategies again and gently work back up to where you were.

Changes

Sometimes we’re super busy at work, we move house, we have a holiday… When there’s something that means we stop working on their diet or the child has a bit of a regression and stopped eating so much due to these changes, that is normal. I tell many people that if there’s a day when you’re stressed and rushed, take a little break to make sure that trying new food doesn’t become a negative experience. It’s got to be something your child grows to enjoy and become motivated by. We’re all about changing attitudes towards food, not force feeding so trying new food needs to be fun and relaxed.

If you need a little break while you move house or write lots of reports at work or are away on holiday that’s absolutely fine, just remember to get back to it as soon as you can because consistency is key. The more you do it, the easier and quicker it will become. Soon your child will be eating a much bigger range of food!  Check out the testimonials to see what changes you can expect.

 

To find out more about Little Bites strategies and how I can help your challenging eater book a free initial consultation here.

The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is NOW!

it's time

Wouldn’t it be great if your child started to eat? Obviously, that’s why you’re on this page! Now you just need to find out how to get your child to eat better, healthier food…

So what’s holding you back?

  • You’re too tired?

Think how much more time and energy you’ll have once you can make one meal and it just gets eaten… or at least tried! And all that stress and worry you feel about your challenging eater’s diet leaving you mentally exhausted, that will be gone!

 

  • It’s too expensive right now.

Little Bites just got Laybuy so you can pay the cost off over 6 weeks! You can be well on your way to expanding your child’s diet before you’ve even finished paying!

 

  • It might be too hard.

Little Bites uses a tried and tested easy to follow strategy that really works. It empowers you, motivates your challenging eater and sets them up for success! I have trialled these strategies for 3 years with various children with severe eating aversions and have clients contacting me daily to tell me their challenging eaters are succeeding in overcoming their food aversions and ASKING to try new food!

 

  • Not sure it’ll work or that your child needs it?  

Little Bites has an amazing success rate as long as you’re consistent. The best bit is you can book a free telephone to see what I can do for your child and if they need support.

 

You may need extra support if:

  1. Your child’s diet is limited – they are missing 1 or more important food groups and are missing out nutritionally.
  2. Your child is showing signs of fear when you offer them new food (crying, shaking, gagging or other signs of extreme anxiety)
  3. You’re sick of making 2+ meals, eating the same thing every night, dealing with meltdowns over food and over not being able to go out to cafes or restaurants or to family gatherings.
  4. Your child is starting to reject those few foods that do give them the nutrients they need.

If you want to find out more about how Little Bites can transform your family’s life (the eating part) book a free telephone consultation. If you are overseas you can send me an email at [email protected] or send me a message on Facebook.

How to get your child eating and how to stop bad eating habits

fussy how to get your child eating

How to get your child eating and how to stop bad eating habits

Sometimes we, as parents, can focus so much on how to get your child eating that we don’t think about how it will affect them later in life. Who remembers being told to “finish what’s on your plate” as a kid? When I was a kid I remember eating a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t choose to eat now but I did it and I finished it most of the time (well, my memory tells me I did). One time there was a mislabelled tub in the fridge or freezer… My sister and I were served it for lunch and expected to finish our delicious mince. It tasted weird, my sister flat out refused to eat it (clever girl). I finished my plate before my grandmother realised it was chestnut stuffing cooked up as mince… I’d finished the lot!

I’d love to hear what you would have done!

“Finish what’s on your plate” is not always a good thing for other reasons too! A better thing to teach your children is to “stop when your tummy is full – full tummies don’t get anything else though!”

Here’s why “finish what’s on your plate” teaches bad habits:

When we’re full we keep eating – we stop listening to our body and listen to our guilt instead. This is something we carry with us through adulthood and is why a lot of people struggle with portion control, weight and health issues.

What we really need to do is cook the right amount instead of a bit too much (or put it in the fridge for another day). No wasting food and no overeating.

As adults, we still finish what’s on our plate. Think about when you go out to a restaurant and get a massive plate of food. Most of us have a go at finishing it even when we’re thinking “I’m stuffed!”

Big platefuls can also be intimidating to our challenging eaters. Too much of their preferred food and they don’t try anything else, too much new food scares them!

 

So why do we do it?

  • We don’t want to offend anyone.
  • We don’t like wastage.
  • That’s what we’re used to.

 

What’s the solution? Easy, teach your child to listen to their body.

Here’s how: smaller portions of both their preferred food and new food (we use small plates, even for dinner). When both are gone they can ask for seconds of whatever. If they’re not hungry they don’t get anything else. No hunger, more trying, less wasting, more listening to their body. This works best alongside Little Bites Individual Eating Programmes.

Portion size is important. Let me know if you’d like more information about portion size.

Did you notice the new look website?

There are new booking options, a FAQ page and the welcome and about pages have had a makeover too!

6 ways to conquer challenging eating and get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food.

get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food

We want to get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food.  I’m going to tell you 6 things you might have been sucked into and how to change it up! It can be so easy to fall into these so don’t worry if you do them. I’ve also given some suggestions for what you can do instead.

 

  • “Finish what’s on your plate”: get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food by serving less

This sounds perfectly reasonable but often parents put out portions that are too big. How often have you been in a restaurant and had a massive portion and you finish it even though you’re forcing it down by the end? That’s because a lot of us still listen to that little voice saying “finish what’s on your plate.”

It’s better for kids to listen to their stomachs about when to stop eating and sit at the table until everyone else is full up too. It’s best to avoid a battle of wills at dinner time and get them to help serve up their own portion, making sure that they have a little bit of what you want them to eat. That way they get to finish more often due to smaller portion sizes and you can always ask if they want more of anything. They’ll feel a bigger sense of achievement and you will be happier too.

  • Preparing 2,3 or 4 different meals: get kids eating healthy food at dinner

If challenging eaters (actually any kid) knows there’s an easy way out they’ll take it. What you’re effectively saying is that they don’t need to expand their diet because you’re going to continue to provide something “safe” without them even tasting anything new. Then a sibling follows their lead and it all spirals way out of control!

It’s better to have a little of something they like and a little of something new and build up their diet that way, you know they’re not going to starve and they try something new without it being such an ordeal. Obviously, this is easier done along with the Little Bites strategies.

  • Giving too many choices and too much control: get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food through controlled choices.

Now I love choices! The only way my daughter didn’t go to kindy naked was through “do you want this skirt or these pants today?” but giving too much control over dinners doesn’t benefit them. Do encourage them to help you meal plan or shop for *insert troublesome food group here*. If you can get them to cook with you they can decide whether the carrots should be “raw or cooked”, “grated, circles or sticks” etc but don’t ask open-ended questions or give too much control or it will overwhelm them and end up out of control.

  • bargain with/bribe them: get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food and loving it!

If you bribe them with lollies and ice cream you’re effectively teaching that they need to eat the “yuck” food before they get the “yum” food. That reinforces the expectations they have (that it’s going to be disgusting) and they won’t grow to like it. As soon as you run out of ice cream they’ll stop eating the balanced diet. Little Bites helps to form good healthy eating habits in a fun and motivating way so your child gets exposure to healthy food and can learn to love it!

  • snacks before dinner: get kids eating vegetables, dinner and healthy food, not snacking!

My kids are also guilty of sneaking into the kitchen and trying to eat as much as possible before dinner. “Just a bit of fruit/cup of milk/one biscuit!” Yes, they’re hungry but that’s why you’re making dinner and if they eat now they won’t be hungry for whatever you’re busy slaving over. If they fill up on milk/juice/fruit or anything else the chance of them even tasting something new drops right down.

OK, so I actually suggested to someone the other day that when their child is climbing the cupboards before dinner was a good time to try out their strategies but he’s not going to overload on his new healthy food… and if he does I don’t think his mum will be complaining!

  • Force-feeding or yelling (or even sobbing on the kitchen floor)

Anxiety will not let them enjoy the food, it will give them negative associations with it and they could become even more determined not to try it next time! Relax, follow your Little Bites steps and meal times will automatically become more fun and stress-free! Check out these testimonials to see how other families have overcome their food battles.

If you haven’t signed up for your free telephone consultation or to get an individual eating programme with easy to follow steps you can book here.

How to get “picky” eaters to eat: Attitude is so important!

How to get picky eaters to eat

How to get “picky” eaters to eat: the most important thing to change when it comes to challenging eating can also be the most difficult – attitude!

Luckily Little Bites strategies and resources are designed especially to help your challenging eater to overcome their fears and aversions and turn their attitudes around. Lots of potential clients want to know how to get “picky” eaters to eat. After speaking to them we discover that most are not “picky” eaters but are having trouble overcoming a food aversion. Once we can overcome that, their challenging eaters have been tasting, trying and starting to ask for new food! How amazing is that? Lisa told me

“Listening to Rose Anne talk about food phobias has really changed the way I speak about food and that has also changed the way my daughter responds to trying new foods and foods she has previously been terrified of.”

It really does make a huge difference. Read more parent testimonials here.

Did you see my recent Facebook Live where I spoke about changing attitudes towards food? If not here are the main tips.

  1. Be positive. Every time they take a step forward they get genuine meaningful praise. They’ve taken a huge step forward and deserve that to be recognised even if to most people it’s a tiny step.
  2. Avoid negative experiences. If a child makes negative associations with a food they won’t want to try it again.
  3. Make food fun. Play food-related games* and move on to using them to pretend to eat. Play matching games with the actual food and move on to trying the food. You can also make food look fun or call it by a cool name. (Hulk muffins sound so much cooler than spinach muffins.)
  4. Give choices. Grated or cooked, sticks or circles, the green plate or the yellow? Even get them to help choose which fruits, meats and vegetables you buy at the supermarket. Another great way to give choices is on a platter.

*Great games I’ve always had success with are Orchard Games: lunch boxes, Greedy Gorilla, Crazy Chef, and Melissa and Doug Sandwich games.

 

How to overcome food aversions: step 1

Getting children to eat

Step 1 for textural aversions:

Getting children to eat a varied diet can be difficult, especially if you know that they suffer from sensory overload at meal times or Sensory Processing Disorder.  The first  step you can take to help overcome this is to ask your child to help prepare some food.

Starting small is so important. Taking time to cook with your child gives amazing opportunities for overcoming sensory and textural aversions and also to taste food in different ways and give choices. Maybe they prefer their carrot raw and grated instead of cooked. Helping you to chop and grate and mix is the perfect opportunity to start the journey.

If you want to know the next steps or which textures or strategies would best suit your child, sign up for the newsletter or book your free evaluation and consultation at here