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  • Writer's pictureKim Lawler

Patience - something to remember for Fussy Eaters

Raising a fussy eater can be an ordeal. We eat every single day. So many times. It is never ending. The word patience is hard to swallow. I see a lot of parents who have a fussy eater. I teach them about meal time management, the division of responsibility and how to serve food. These are all evidenced based great approaches. But they are not magical solutions. Many parents feel that the pressure is removed after the appointment but the actual changes in food intake might not come until a lot longer down the track.

My eldest daughter has always been somewhat of a fussy eater. From day dot. She never took any puree food and barely ate anything til almost 9months. As an exclusively breastfeeding mum I felt the urge to hurry her along so I was no longer the only thing providing nourishment.

Anyway, she got the hang of it and took off. But she was always fussy. We of course ensured there was no underlying issue, then from early on we implemented the strategies of Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility. Basically the concept is that the parent (or care giver) decides when and what the child will eat, and the child decides if and how much. There is no forcing, there is even no praise and no encouragement. We created a happy meal time environment (with family meals as much as possible) and I always ensured 'safe' food was provided at her plate along with regular expose to new food in a gentle gradual way. As my daughter got older we also started to talk to her positively about food and what it does to her body. We speak about 'Strong' Foods, 'Green' foods feeding her tummy bugs (microbiome), foods that have many roles in our body and my daughters favourite 'orange' food that gives her sparkly eyes. Always positive.

Now at age 4 there are clearly foods that she doesn't like and she doesn't jump to eat all foods, particularly vegetables but I am sooooo happy with her progress. After exposer to foods she will eventually begin to trial them as she feels safe to do so. She doesn't appear to like all of them. I don't ever ask though. She is now eating mixed food regularly (e.g. lasange) and is generally excited at times to try new things. She has a broad range of 'safe' foods from all food groups and meal times is not a stressful event. It is a long road (like years long) and it has taken patience as well as an understanding of the progress. If you are implementing positive feeding strategies for your fussy eater, hang in there!!!. Whilst being patient, please do however ensure your child is regularly monitored by their health professional and get advice if background nutrition support/supplement is needed to meet their growth and nutrient needs. #fussyeating #dietitian #nutritionist #sydneydietitian #healthykids #explorenutrition #kimlawlerdietitian

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