The Confident Eater

5 reasons to seek help for fussy eating

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5 reasons to seek help for fussy eating

You have a fussy eater in the house and things aren’t great. But your child is still young so you’re hoping it will improve as they age. You/your partner/your friend’s brother was a fussy eater as a child, and they eat well now so they should grow out of it. Shouldn’t they?

Most parents I speak to have been limping for a long time before they get in touch. That makes sense as often just when you feel you should get help your child suddenly eats something new, and you think it’s going to be okay. Or you read about a new strategy that you’re sure will help so defer getting help for a while.

However, even when you know 100% it’s time to get help that often seems insurmountably hard too. 

  • There isn’t really a lot of choice.
  • You are worried that it will be too expensive/time consuming/difficult.
  • You may also be secretly concerned your child will be too extreme to benefit.

I would be rich if I had a dollar for every parent who tells me either “I wish I’d found you sooner” or “I wish I’d done something when I first knew things were going wrong”.

5 reasons to seek help for fussy eating

1. You have given up – you have had a picky eater in the house for what seems like an eternity and have tried everything to get them to eat more widely and nothing has worked.

In fact, for some parents they realise that some of the things they have tried have made things worse/caused drama or upset. So naturally they stop to prevent making the situation worse, not better.

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I speak to many parents in this position, and they have stopped trying.

Unfortunately, doing nothing means things rarely improve and if you have a pretty selective eater, over time things can even get worse.

2. You are stuck – you have tried many different things and yet nothing works. When you try a new recipe, your child just refuses to eat it, or worse, refuses to eat at all. You are confused as to what to do.

Many parents of a fussy eater find themselves in this space and it’s a really difficult place to be.

Generally, you make compromises – as you have to, to keep the wheels on – and so find a list of foods your child eats and serve those.

Ensuring your child eats is of course critical. Having them eat happily is also important. But, feeding favourites on repeat burns patterns into the brain and makes it more and more difficult over time for a child to accept anything new.

They can also get bored or have a bad experience with a favourite and so drop it.

3. You don’t believe it’s possible – because you have tried a range of things and nothing has really made a difference, you start to worry that nothing will work for your child.

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Many of the parents I speak to believe their child is the most challenged around food.

Virtually every parent I speak to describes their child as stubborn. This makes sense. If food is not your comfy place, then you are more likely to be very rigid about what is acceptable and what is not. Not eating new foods is logical for a picky eater as foods are different and therefore difficult.

4. Perspective – when you are stuck in the middle of ongoing frustration and often worry, you lose sight of what’s happening. It’s easy to make compromises without even realizing it.

It is also challenging to recognize progress, and you find evaluating strategies and what is effective, and not difficult to do.

5. Easy meals – all parents wish for meals that are relaxed, simple, and nourishing and happen without drama or worry. For some parents this is a key factor in seeking help, particularly if it’s disrupting the eating habits of siblings.

Naturally, you want things to be easier for you, so you don’t have to constantly think about what to serve your child and so you don’t need to prepare multiple meals.

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But you also want it for your child. Being a fussy eater is not easy for a child, and particularly as they get older. Most social occasions revolve around food so everything from sleepovers to parties to camps become a minefield.

5 ways help for fussy eating helps!

1. Getting started – when you stop trying to move forwards, you don’t!

Consistently supporting your child to eat more widely is important as it’s going to support progress and prevent them going backwards. This is particularly true if they haven’t been able to move forwards for ages.

Knowing what to do is of course key, and particularly knowing that what you are doing is helping. I feel this is one of the most important reasons for finding help, knowing that you are doing everything in your power to help your child.

Being privy to the most up to date feeding advice and knowing you are supporting your child in every way you can, is reassuring and empowering.

2. Making changes – feeling stuck and not knowing what to do happens to everyone! You try something, it fails, so you try something else and that doesn’t work either, so after a while you are totally confused as to what to do.

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Working with someone else can be so exciting. Having some new strategies – or new ways to do old strategies enables you to start making changes.

The best way to do this is:

1) have a plan

2) don’t reinvent the wheel!

Often, parents look for big changes to get from where they are to where they want to be.

I always recommend the opposite, that parents start with tiny changes that are okay for us and acceptable to your child, but that slowly get you moving forwards again.

3. Believe it’s possible – I know experience tells you that your child is super stubborn and is not going to want to do things like other children. But you would be really surprised. There are lots of ways to draw a child into food experiences in a positive way.

Building comfort around food starts organically to work on the stubbornness. If you feel less anxious around eating, you become more open to trying things and it gets easier to move forwards.

4. A new perspective – it’s easy to see things differently when you are looking in from the outside. When I talk to parents I can see where compromises have been made, where you can make little changes for a big impact, and how to gently look for new ways to do things for a better result.

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Often, it’s impossible to see things clearly when you are caught up in the middle of a feeding problem.

As a parent you are also naturally emotionally invested in your child and that can stand in the way of clarity.

However, when someone else lays it all out it becomes obvious.

5. Easy meals – we all want food and feeding to be a lovely, natural, and organic process.

Realistically, if you have a super selective eater, that may be quite a way off, but getting started is important.

One of the core goals of any feeding expert is to make mealtimes as easy and relaxed as possible. That shouldn’t be a long-term hurdle, but something that can be achieved fairly effectively early on.

Fixing picky eating is frequently not going to be a quick and easy process, but, like anything else, the sooner you get started, the sooner you get there. 

You also have to bear in mind that leaving things as they are is not only difficult for the whole family but could also mean things are harder later on.

If you’d like a complimentary chat about your situation and what we can do to offer help for fussy eating, please get in touch.

Hopefully too, your situation is not as bad as you’re thinking and there is a fix that is relatively easy and cost-effective.

Judith, MA Cantab (Cambridge University), MSc Psychology (first-class honours), 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:

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