6 things you should never do!

Today I want to tell you about 6 things people with challenging eaters sometimes get 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”

This sounds perfectly reasonable but often parents put 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 better 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

If challenging eaters (actually any kid) know 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

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

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.

  • snacks before dinner

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 suggest to clients 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 consultation to get an individual eating programme with easy to follow steps you can book here.

Why you should never say “it’s probably all my fault”

I hear this so much and I just want to tell you all that it’s not!

Some children just struggle with textures, smells and certain tastes more than others. Some children have dealt with some food related trauma such as illness, choking or extreme anxiety around being forced to eat, and others have special needs which means that they struggle more than others to overcome food aversions and so they stick to those they know.

Yes, sometimes we can look back and see something that happened in their life that could have made eating worse (sometimes taking the wrong approach, a life event that made dealing with the eating that bit harder, or bad advice we took) but look at it this way – you’re trying! You’re here trying to find the best way to help your child overcome their fears, aversions and habits… you’re on the right track and that’s all that matters!

If you need a private place to ask questions or get support (and support others in the same situation) head over to the group.


double trouble! Sibling Strategies.

One comment I get a lot is “now the others are getting picky too”.

Here’s what I tell those parents:

Your other child is watching the dinnertime hassle. They’re most likely seeing something that’s making them change their eating behaviour. Maybe your challenging eater gets to avoid those things the youngest isn’t sure about, their fear is rubbing off on the youngest as it’s such a big deal, maybe your challenging eater gets bribed to eat, gets a lot of attention for not eating (positive or negative, attention is attention to a child), gets a second chance at dinner  – toast, fruit, nuggets, sandwich…

There are lots of easy ways to turn this around for the other child – and alongside ‘Little Bites’ step by step, easy to follow steps, they can also help motivate your challenging eater.

  • Flip the attention.  Give them heaps of genuine attention for eating with lighthearted reminders “You like this, you ate it at school/when we had… You said it was yummy!”
  • Make it a bit competitive – I don’t mean food fights and a good way to get indigestion! I mean “who’s going to try *food you’re struggling with* first?” Whoever tries the most different foods over the day or week gets to choose movie night, or the activity, or the park to go to…
  • Get them to help plan and prepare dinner once a week and give them a choice from a couple of options of things they’re starting to turn from (or give them free reign of the vegetable aisle!) Maybe they just need presented in a new way (shaped like a face, raw instead of cooked or sticks instead of slices).
  • Have different themed nights every so often – milkshake Monday (veggie or fruit smoothies), rainbow nights, funny face Friday where they see who can make the most interesting picture or face with their food as they serve up (or you  do it and they judge if they’re too young).

For more ideas and resources email [email protected] or book here.  If you’re interested in this, just ask for the sibling strategy when we speak.