A not-so-serious quiz to determine whether your child is a picky eater

Tick which answer applies to you:

1. a) His favourite food since he was weaned, you know, the food he asks for for dinner every day, the only go-to meal that you know he will actually eat… He suddenly decides is disgusting and looks horrified that you even tried to place the abomination infront of him.

b) His favourite food is everything and anything.

2. a) She will starve herself for DAYS, maybe even weeks. rather than eat a food that she does not like. 

b) She would dine on lobster and caviar if I let her.

3. a) He can sniff out a vegetable in a meal from the next room, no matter how hard you try to disguise it

b) He likes you to put extra vegetables in his meal incase he can’t taste them well enough.

4. a) You find yourself spending an extra hour in the kitchen every night preparing separate meals for the family, for her to then have a tantrum when it’s served because she has something different. When offered said meal that the rest of the family is eating, she has another tantrum because she doesn’t like it.

b) I only have to cook once because the whole family eats the same nutritious meal.

5. a) Everything you put infront of him is too hot/ cold/ dirty/ funny looking and mostly ends up on the table/ floor/ his head/ up his nose (delete as appropriate).

b) Everything you put infront of him is delicious.

Mostly a’s: Run for the hills, you have a picky eater on your hands! You will most likely spend the next 16 years on your knees begging them to eat something healthy. Whatever you do, do not offer them any sort of new food, even if it’s a mixture of all the foods they love in a new form. This could have explosive consequences.

Mostly b’s: You do not have a picky eater and I’m afraid to say that I am mildly jealous… Ok, no, I hate you and your stress free mealtimes!

Our 7 day food challenge!

So today is the final day of our food challenge, and while I am extremely proud of C, I was quite surprised that it turned out to be more of a challenge for me than for him. George-Bernard-Shaw

What you may not know about me is that I was, as a child, an extremely fussy eater. I still remember the feeling of fear when a new food was placed infront of me and I’m ashamed to say that this was something that carried on until I fell pregnant with C when I was 23 years old and really started focusing on eating healthily (although it’s still something I struggle with now).

That’s what spurred me to do this as being picky makes life a whole lot harder. You can’t go out for meals, it’s awkward when you eat at someone’s house… You know the drill.

Anyway, I do not want this for C. I want him to enjoy food and be healthy, after all food is the spice of life!. So I took myself out of my comfort zone, C out of his, and I introduced him to 1 new food every day for a week. Here’s how it went:

Monday: Red pepper (something we haven’t revisited since weaning when he rejected it).

Status: Feel free to check out my previous post about day 1 on the epic FAIL of this!

smoothie

Tuesday: Smoothies: (click here for recipe). The last time I tried these, he deemed them disgusting and then spat it out all over the floor!

Status: Success! The orange went down better than the strawberry but I put this down to the strawberries being a bit sharp. I will be experimenting with adding veg to these very soon!

11078184_10153299138321264_8820274147596773522_n

Wednesday: Quinoa. I wasn’t sure how he would react to this on it’s own so I coated chicken with it and made chicken nuggets. After telling him they were fish fingers (he calls anything with breadcrumbs fish fingers) he ate 1 of them which is reasonably good.

Status: Win!

muffins

Thursday: Savoury muffins. We made carrot and cheese muffins together and C gobbled down 5 in a row!  (Recipe here)

Status: Epic Win!! (But then they did resemble cakes)

noodles

Friday: Noodles. I’ve always steered clear of noodles for one reason or another. It was more because I thought he’d reject them as they were a bit different so this one was more about getting me out of my comfort zone. I served them with a marscapone pasta sauce as this is one of his favourites.

Status: Success! And he’s asked for them every day since!

Saturday: Cucumber (another thing he rejected while weaning and I never tried again). I cut the skin off as he’s always been funny about skins and just placed it on his plate as a side. I ensured that I didn’t bring any attention to it too.very important to avoid any power struggles or tantrums! I also told him he didn’t have to eat it if he didn’t want to.

Status: Bear in mind that I was exposing this to him every day from the beginning of the week by just putting it on his plate. He didn’t touch it until today when he asked me for a sticker (on his reward chart) if he tasted it. He took the tiniest bite but I still see this as a win!

sweet potato

Sunday: Sweet potato (a food he used to eat baked but then decided he hated because it was the same colour as a carrot!). I chopped this into chip shapes, roasted in theoven and served as a side with fish fingers.

Status: After initially refusing to eat it, he tried a small bit and decided that they were actually quite tasty! Success!

I really would recommend this to anyone dealing with a fussy eater as it exposes them to a whole host of new foods. And I even got an extra little surprise when he tasted a carrot on day 2 (though hasn’t eaten one since so not sure if this was a success or not!).

Next step: Try a new vegetable everyday for 10 days before moving on to the next. If he takes to it well then incorporate it into his everyday meals. (studies have shown that it takes at least 10 tries before their little taste buds accept or reject them). Wish me luck!

Mummascribbles

Super Simple Smoothies

If your child will have them, smoothies are the perfect way to get fruit and veg into your child. Yes it would be a perfect world if our children would eat tonnes of fruit every day but sometimes it’s not that easy and we just need a simple solution.

Smoothies are also great because you can sneak literally anything into them… Spinach, kale, flax seeds, you name it. I started off simple this week though as smoothies were something that C had previously refused. 

Strawberry and Banana 

  

1 cup of frozen, tinned or fresh strawberries 

1 banana (I used a banana I had previously frozen as it turns ice-cream-like in the freezer)

A handful of grapes

2 cups orange juice

1 strawberry fromage frais/ yoghurt

1/2 cup milk

Whizz it all up in the blender and push through a sieve if your little one is opposed to lumps. Enjoy!

Yummy Orange and Peach

  

1 Orange peeled and separated

1 peach or apricot fromage frais

A handful of grapes

Half a tin of peaches (with juice)

2 cups of orange juice

1/2 a cooked carrot

Whizz and seive as above and enjoy!

We will be road testing lots more smoothie combinations in the coming weeks so watch this space!

Do you have any smoothie recipes that are a winner with your fussy eater?

 


The perfect parent brigade

There are times (or all the time with me) that we feel as if we are being judged as parents. Whether this is because of our own insecurities, or the condescending attitude of others, it’s something that us parents all have to face sometime or another

Fussy children are usually hypersensitive and may come with tidal waves of emotion which erupt into huge tantrums or confrontations. This is probably when we feel the most judged, especially when it happens in public. 

 

Take C for example. We were in Asda a few days ago and for no reason whatsoever (or none that I could fathom at that specific time) he broke down into screaming rage. This was in the middle of the sweet isle, holding a packet of haribo, so you can imaging what sort of parent I looked like! What made it worse was the smug looking mum who swooshed past, her child sitting nicely in the trolley munching on a carrot. A CARROT FFS!!!! 

In the end, I had to literally carry him out of the shop kicking and screaming. Thank god baby didn’t kick off too or I would have been trapped in that nightmarish situation, the isles closing in on me, mums walking past tutting and wagging their fingers in my direction…

 

Ok so the mum who walked past probably only looked my way because she thought someone was being murdered down that isle, and good on her kid for eating that carrot! I should have gone and congratulated her! 

What I am trying to put across is that even though we may feel that people are judging us sometimes, we are usually our own worst enemy. 

Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault. Parenting is hard, and we are all struggling through it doing the best we can. 

When something like fussy eating crops up, it makes the whole process 1000x harder but what really matters is that you are trying! You care! You care so much that you are giving yourself grey hairs stressing about it.

So carry on doing what you are doing. Whatever that is. Hide the vegetables, offer them even if your child leaves them, don’t offer them at all, feed your child McDonald’s for every meal if you have to. I don’t care. You are doing your best and that’s what matters. Well done. 

What I’ve learnt so far (and the war on peas!)

 

 It’s been just over a week now since starting my blog and boy have a learnt a lot!

To be honest I’ve never really thought about C’s fussy eating before. I mean, I just deemed it as him being fussy and that’s just how it was. 

What this meant was giving C the same 5 meals on repeat, letting him eat separate meals mostly at separate times and hiding all his vegetables in his food. While picky eating is a normal phase for children, C’s has been going on for far too long and I really do need to begin to change things before it follows him into adulthood.

In all honestly, by burying my head in the sand, I’ve been letting C down.

What brought all this to light then? My brilliant mind, my intuition, my innate wisdom, I hear you ask? No (I wish!). I sought a professional opinion and began reading “War and Peas” by Jo Cormack. 

Now when I began reading it, I thought it wouldn’t really help. I mean, only I know my child, right? Wrong. A lot rung true with me. It’s written in an easy to understand way and lays out the reasons behind the fussy eating as well as giving you an action plan to follow. It doesn’t teach what to feed your child like so many others, but how to, and how to respond to their picky eating (which I know I struggle with!). Some of the points below were picked up from Jo’s book and I’m feeling pretty confident (though only time will tell!) that I may have found the answer to at least some of my problems. 

1. EAF. Jo’s book is based on the EAF principle. EAF stands for emotionally aware feeding. In short, it’s about understanding the psychology behind picky eating and how to respond to it. It doesn’t follow a behavioural parenting technique such as punishing them, or even rewarding them, but takes the attention away from the eating so it’s not an issue anymore. This not only gives the child ownership over his actions (and we all know how much a child likes to be in control) but takes the attention away from them at mealtimes so also eliminates any power struggles that may be emerging. They may even take a cheeky bite of of something they have previously rejected whole they think you are not looking! 

Children are delicate creatures and having to sit at a table forced to eat something they don’t want to can cause a lifelong hatred of that food. I remember having to sit at the kitchen table every week and eat a bowl of musili because I didn’t like nuts when I was small. My mum honestly thought she was doing the right thing by getting me used to the taste, but to this day, the taste of nuts makes me feel physically sick. Maybe if id have been left to choose to try the musili myself, I wouldn’t have this psychological response to them now.

2. Exposure. Science has shown that children need to be exposed to a food at least 10 times in order to accept it. If I only stick to the meals I know he likes, or hide all the vegetables in other foods, he’s not being exposed at all. I tended to offer something to him a few times and then give up, deeming it something that he just didn’t like. What I should have done was keep offering a variety of things with each meal, or even better, just give him what we are eating. By giving him separate meals, I was simply reinforcing his fussy eating by teaching him that all other foods were bad. If he leaves it, then he leaves it, but at least he’s been exposed to it and he’s more likely to accept it in the future (or hopefully in school when he starts). Basically, he will not see it as ‘bad’ if he’s seen it lots of times before. 

What is also brilliant for exposure is playing with food or letting your child help you cook meals. Mush up some broccoli and let them drive their cars through it, or let them chop a pepper to put with their meal. Just touching and smelling it will get them  accustomed to the food. Bonus points if they actually taste it. Just be careful not to pressure them into this. 

3. Eating together. Children learn through social interactions and modelling behaviour. What we do, what we eat and how we eat are so important. My partner doesn’t get home until 7 on the days we works and that’s C’s bedtime so I tend to give C his dinner at about 5 and wait until the Mr gets home to eat mine. This resulted in C eating alone, more often than not infront of the TV and sometimes on the sofa. He is learning absolutely nothing here.      

Mealtimes were never a special occasion when I was growing up and I guess I’ve mirrored that. We live in a small house which makes things difficult as we have no space for a table but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t try and squeeze one in or at least still eat together (even if it’s just me, C and baby). I have just never really thought about how important this was.

4. Labelling food. I know that I’ve been guilty of bribing C with sweets or cakes to get him to eat or to behave. This automatically gets him to view sweet things as good and vegetables or even full meals as bad. No wonder he doesn’t get excited about a shepherds pie in the same way he does dessert!

My Action Plan:

  • Eat together at every meal even if it’s just me and C.
  • If he refuses to eat his meal then don’t give him an alternative.
  • Feed him what we are eating, no separate meals. I want to offer him as much variety as possible. 
  • Keep the focus off his eating at mealtimes. 
  • Stop rewarding him with sweets and treat all food the same. Get excited about vegetables! Reward with stickers or trips out instead of sweets and chocolate.
  • Cook with him lots!

It’s going to be a long road but I’m up for the challenge! 

Jam and Honey Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

Yes I know these aren’t the healthiest of things, but they go down well as a treat and they don’t have half the crap in them that shop bought ones do.

Ingredients:

50g butter or margerine

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 desertspoons clear honey

8 tablespoons self raising flour

4 tablespoons jam

Method:

Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 and grease a baking tin

Cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon, add vanilla extract, egg yolk and honey and mix until combined. Add the flour and mix until a dough is formed.

Break off small pieces of the dough and roll into balls then press onto baking sheet to form flattened circles. Now (and the kids will love doing this), press down with your thumb into the centre of each cookie to make a deep well.

Melt the jam on a low setting in the microwave for about 30 seconds and spoon a little into the centre of each cookie. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden

Enjoy!

The 7 day eating challenge: Day 1

I decided to set myself a challenge this week and try a new food out on Master C every day for the next 7 days. Today, I had a quarter of a red pepper languishing in the door of the fridge that needed to be used so I thought ‘why not?’

 

pepper

 

As I was making our scrambled egg for lunch, an idea popped into my head. Why don’t I cut up the red pepper really small and mix into into the egg? I honestly thought that I had come up with the idea of the century, it will be like a scrambled omelette and its red, not green, so there was a tiny chance that Master C would accept it.

Boy was I wrong. As soon as he saw the red ‘bits’, which was pretty much immediately, he said he didn’t want it. I, of course lied and said it was ketchup (it used to work when he was 2!) to which he replied “no mummy, look, its different to ketchup”. Game over.

The story ends with me picking out the tiny pieces of pepper (which is harder than it sounds!) and him still finding the offending pieces of the article in the egg that was left. The pepper was spat out, the egg was left uneaten, and all in all, it was one massive failure.

funny-picture-cat-fail

I think I may have shot myself in the foot with the egg thing too. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s lost trust in a food because of my awful vegetable hiding skills!

I think a new plan of action is needed for future endeavors don’t you? Seems that little man has become quite the detective!

I will continue with my 7 day challenge tomorrow, though I may just offer him the new food outright. He may actually respect my honesty!