Are mealtimes a battle of wills?
Other parents seem to manage it. Happy family dinners, no guilt over no vegetables, few concerns that their children eat too much or not enough.
Daily dinnertime battles with your children can make you feel isolated as a parent, drain you of energy and send your stress levels skyrocketing. You may even feel that you’ve failed at the most basic level – getting nutritious food into your child.
But you’re not alone. Yes, there are those children who eat everything (you may even have one), but they are the minority. Most children are either ‘cautious’ eaters or full on finicky, testing even the most patient parent.
If you’re after reassurance, guidance, and some ground rules about feeding your kids, I can help.
- Fussy and finicky eaters. Food neophobia, or ‘fussy eating’ describes a reluctance to try new foods. You’ll notice this in children from the age of 2 to 3, and although exasperating for parents, is a typical part of children’s development. But sometimes it’s more than just an ‘age and stage’ issue, and together we can look at what might be happening, and how to address it.
- Eating too much. You want to encourage your children to eat healthy foods, then you worry they eat too much. Should you restrict their eating, cut out all treats or just hope they’ll grow out of it?
- Eating too little. The curse of comparisons. Other children seem to eat far more than your child. Should you be concerned, and how do you encourage eating more?
Together we can resolve feeding issues such as these. You’ll learn about the nutritional needs of different ages and stages, as well as what works and what doesn’t in encouraging healthy eating, based on the most up-to-date research. These are things we were never taught as new parents, but they’re essential to raising good eaters.
Ellyn Satter is a internationally recognised US dietitian and family therapist who has spent 50 years addressing nutritional and feeding issues in children. Her work is influential in my approach, and I trained with her on her only visit to Australia, in September 2015.
I’ve also trained with Dietitian Dr Denise Stapleton, and Occupational Therapist Gillian Griffiths, who together run the Making Sense of Mealtimes workshop. This explores how neuroscience sensory processing and stress can impact on nutritional intake and behaviour in infants and children during mealtimes.
Recently I completed the training Picky Eaters vs Problem Feeders: The Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding with Dr Kay Toomey and Dr Erin Ross. This approach integrates posture, sensory, motor, behavioural/learning and nutritional considerations in treating children with feeding difficulties.
Adolescents have specific dietary needs due to their rapid growth, but this is a time when your influence on their food choices diminishes.
Peer pressure and media influence can take over, often resulting in food fads, restrictive eating, or over-eating unhealthy foods. If you’re seeking practical advice on how to encourage healthy eating and address weight management in teenagers, contact me now.
How I work
I see the best results if I see clients for a minimum of three sessions. That way we can look at current eating habits of you and your children, what’s working, what’s not, and the first steps we can take towards making a change. I’ll give you some ‘homework’ and then follow up at a convenient time, usually about two weeks later. My services are covered by most health funds.
Browse through my fact sheets on nutrition relevant to children.