Fussy Eating – A Dietitians Tips

fussy eating

Do you have a fussy eater?

Here are some of my top tips to overcoming the stress of mealtime.

  1. Remove any level of stress or anxiety around meals times. This means parents take a deep breath, relax and don’t show any angst regarding whether your kids eat or not.  
    • If meal times are associated with tears, stress and anxiety the associated hormones will act as an immediate appetite suppressant. So if your meal environment is not stress free and tear free then I am afraid you’re starting out on the back foot.
  2. Encouragement should be at a maximum of 1-3 times.  Any more than this and you will start to push over into the ‘attention zone’.
    • “Look mummy and daddy are eating it’
    • ‘Just try it and if you don’t like it then that’s ok”
    • ‘Yummy - this is mummy and daddy’s favourite give it a try’
  3. Avoid the ‘attention zone’: this is when there is any level of excessive encouragement or force-feeding. Children will try and use meal times as a way to build autonomy and control. For some this means achieving undivided attention from mum and dad even if this attention is undesirable and stressful. For some children any attention whether is positive or negative begins to set up an expectation and routine.  Meal times are a learning experience so lets try and ensure they only experience a positive one.
  4. Allow your children to decide what they want to eat and how much they will eat off their plate, once you have provided them with the healthy ‘family’ meal then the rest is up to them.
  5. Even if you know they don’t like it, this doesn’t mean we should avoid serving it. Keep trying and ensure they trust that they then chose which foods they eat.
  6. Involve your kids in the shopping, food prep, and dishing up routine. This exposure will be lead to healthier eating habits and break down the walls of fussy eating.
  7. Stop desserts after mealtime and yes this even includes fruit – if they are really not hungry and they know something sweet will be on offer, they will hold off until they get the better option, allow 2-3 hours after meal times to offer any snack or dessert foods.
  8. Consider snacks, what have they really eaten today, and when was their last snack or meal? Are they truly hungry?  
  9. Don’t forget about drinks – are they filling up on fluids?
  10. FINALLY – teach your kids to be thankful and grateful for the food they are offered.

If your really struggling and not sure how to create a happier and healthier meal environment at home or even whether your child is getting enough nutrients then an accredited practicing dietitian can help.

Book online today.