Written with the help of two expert consultants, psychologist Dr Sandi Mann and nutritionist Sally Child, this guide to overcoming kids’ eating problems offers loads of practical advice, psychological insight, and, perhaps most importantly, plain old reassurance to parents with concerns about their children’s dietary habits.
Needless to say, my own experience as mum to a fussy eater proved an advantage during the writing process.
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Here’s an excerpt from the book!
It’s easy to become demoralised when kids won’t eat the things you want and to just give in to their whims – you need to know that what you put in front of them has at least a fighting chance of being eaten. And quite apart from the overwhelming priority to get something – anything – down them, who needs the waste? It’s not really surprising that a lot of families tend to have their menu choices set on a seven-day loop that never really changes.
But it is worth plugging away regardless; gently prompting them over and over again – without pressure – to try new things. Graduated exposure techniques have been found by researchers to be helpful in encouraging fussy eaters to widen their diet, (2) which suggests that if you keep on determinedly offering small amounts of a particular food to a child, there’s a good chance that they’ll come round to it eventually.
In fact, many children are actually quite prepared to try new foods, as long as they know they definitely have the option of disliking it. One reason why it’s good to eat as a family is that it exposes them to the sights and smells of different foods on other people’s plates (and allowing them to take a little from yours is an effective but subtle way to encourage them to sample stuff).
Of course, it’s entirely possible that a child has a perfectly genuine, inherent dislike for one or more specific foods and you will simply have to accept that. Why shouldn’t they? Most grown-ups have some disliked foods, after all – and you wouldn’t tell an adult guest at a dinner party that they’re not leaving the table until they’ve had at least three more mouthfuls of something they hate.
It’s still worth taking a tenacious approach in the long-term, though, as children usually become more open-minded and less selective about food as they grow. Try coming back to it six months later!