Child is not eating
The nugget is too brown, the cracker looks different, the cereal is too wet, the cheese smells funny and of course my child is not eating as the toast had a black bit!
How many times do we serve a food we ALWAYS serve in EXACTLY the same way, and have our child refuse it?
This rigidity of approach is a very common part of fussy eating.
Trust me, I’m so in this with you. I have a few recipes I make specifically for my teen as these days he wants to do things his way – sigh. I do exactly the same thing as I’ve always done, and he tells me it doesn’t taste the same. I have a try and can’t tell the difference. Sigh, again.
This is minor compared to what I know many parents are facing. They serve the nuggets or the toast or the pasta, only to have it rejected. I am working with a family at the moment and mum was making up to 4 different pieces of toast every morning as her son had to have it a very specific way (and only he could tell what that was) or he would refuse to eat it.
Why a child is not eating and so rigid in their approach
There are a host of reasons around anxiety and comfort, but today I want to talk about one of the main things I see.
When children have a limited diet due to fussy eating they are, by default, eating the same things repeatedly. Over time, it’s common for them to start not only wanting that limited range of food, but to be overly sensitive about those foods themselves.
This can drive a parent totally crazy. It’s not just that only one brand of nugget is okay, but now it’s only okay the way dad cooks it and it’s only acceptable if it’s not too dark on one side.
I see this see this all the time with families I work with. Their children get more and more restrictive over time (while at the same time many people are blowing it off as a phase ☹).
If you child is not eating, one of the main ways to tackle this is a lot simpler than you’re expecting.
Expanding the diet. When we start to add new foods, often that rigidity starts to ease. Our children are focused on other things and other foods and the intense scrutiny on existing foods can ease on its own.
This is super exciting as the rigidity is soul destroying. It can also be really challenging socially, when our child is not eating foods when out or at other’s houses.
Let’s work on that food expansion and stop that rigidity!
Creating Confident Eaters
Need help with this? Check out Creating Confident Eaters which is all about how to do this, even for very selective eaters, in very gentle, practical steps.
Judith, MA Cantab (Cambridge University), Post Grad Dip Psychology (Massey University), is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.
She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.
Learn more about Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/about/