Every week parents attend my Fussy Eating Class or family consultations because they are worried about the amount or types of foods that their children are eating. In most cases, these are happy, healthy toddlers with no medical problems. However, in many cases mealtimes are either a battle ground or parents are frustrated. Frustrated because they are serving the same foods day in and day out or because they are making not one but two or three separate meals. Does this sound familiar?
MANAGING FUSSY EATING IS ABOUT PLAYING THE LONG-GAME
It seems that ‘fussy eating’ is an ever-increasing problem in families today. The good news is that with the correct information and an openness to make changes to your parenting style around food, this can improve. You can put in place feeding strategies that will help your child to eat a wider variety of foods, create enjoyable family mealtimes and reduce time spent catering for individual children. However, these are long term strategies and not overnight miracles. But perseverance and consistency will pay off in the long-term, helping you to raise a happy, healthy eating adult!
“IT’S NOT ABOUT GETTING FOOD INTO YOUR CHILD”
Before I talk to my families about feeding strategies or what foods to feed there is one piece of advice that I always offer first. It’s this; Feeding your child well does not mean ‘getting food into your child’. “Hang on, I hear you say, that’s nuts. Of course, it’s my job to make sure my child eats. No, it’s really not!” Feeding it is a partnership between you and your child and you each have your own set of responsibilities.
This isn’t just my opinion but based on the evidence-based theory called The Division of Responsibility, researched and developed by Ellyn Satter, feeding expert and dietitian.
THE DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITY
This is taken from directly from Ellyn Satter……
When you follow the division of responsibility in feeding your child will become and remain capable with eating. The division of responsibility in feeding (sDOR) encourages you to take leadership with the WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE of feeding and let your child determine HOW MUCH and WHETHER to eat of what you provide.
AT EVERY FEEDING STAGE AND AGE
The division of responsibility in feeding applies at every stage in your child’s growing-up years, from infancy through the early years through to adolescence. sDOR says to feed your baby on demand, letting him determine the timing and tempo of feeding. As he develops and becomes more regular in his eating patterns, you gradually take on responsibility for when and where to feed. Most children are ready to join in with the meals-plus-snacks routine of family meals by the end of the first year or the beginning of the second year. After that, parents need to maintain the structure of family meals and sit-down snacks throughout the growing-up years. When you do your jobs with feeding, your child will do his with eating.
Your jobs with feeding are to . . .
Choose and prepare the food.
Provide regular meals and snacks.
Make eating times pleasant.
Step-by-step, show your child by example how to behave at family mealtime.
Be considerate of your child’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes.
Not let your child have food or drinks (except for water) between meal and snack times.
Let your child grow into the body that is right for him.
Part of your feeding job is to trust your child to . . .
Eat the amount he needs.
Learn to eat the food you eat.
Grow predictably in the way that is right for him.
Learn to behave well at mealtime.
I PRACTICE THIS TOO!
This is not just something that I advise other parents to do but is something that I put into practice everyday with my own four children. At its core, this is a simple concept. Is it easy to put into practice, not always? This trust model can be difficult for many parents to implement as it flies in the face of our anxiety about food and about parenting. However, it can also be so liberating for parents to be free from the pressure to micromanage their child’s food intake. Go ahead and give it a go, it’s certainly worth thinking about.
GIVE IT A GO…..
If you’re interested in learning more about how this approach can work for your family get in touch to arrange a consultation to see how this can work in practice for your family.