This is something that has been coming up a lot in coaching practice lately and I thought that if this is the case for my clients, then many others are struggling with it as well.
So I thought I’d share with you my personal experience.
To start off, I cannot tell you how much I understand the concept of fussy eating as I sometimes truly believe that my son defined FUSSY eating and I’m yet to find a kid as challenged as he was with eating.
Some context and background
By the time he was 15 months of age he was already referred to a child psychologist as he was not responding to any of the prescribed techniques by the pediatric dietician. Oh my, writing this brings back so many memories of that car trip! My husband and I were just in disbelief that we were actually making this trip for our young baby boy....but sadly we were! Then by the time he was 5 years old had already seen 4 pediatric dieticians – and NOTHING worked.
I consider myself to be a fairly diligent and conscientious person and did everything I was told as PERFECTLY as I could – but to no avail. Every time I did not make the anticipated progress, I lost a little bit of hope, until I felt ready to keep searching again for something or someone that would help us help him eat a more varied diet.
So what I’m about to share with you is NOT psychology approved techniques, double blinded placebo control study tested etc......it’s just what worked for me – and I think I just about tried everything if you catch my drift.
I will also preface to say that it was a combined approach not just 1 thing. I truly believe what really propelled us onto the other side was actually a change in me, not him! And I say that again, the change was in me and not him.
I distinctly remember the day I drew a line in the sand and said no more – THIS WILL BE DONE I vowed. I was able to do this for a number of reasons:
- I knew what the underlying cause of the problem was- FINALLY
- I knew EXACTLY what I needed to do to resolve the issue – HALLELUJAH
- I felt guided an supported - PRICELESS
I can say that in ALL of my prior attempts I have never had all 3 of these pieces together.
I too needed to change, and that was predominantly my mindset
- I had to let go of any past failed attempts and feel confident in the way forward, which I was for the first time no knowing what the REAL problem was
- It was NOT my role to make him eat, which I often tried to do or play silly games only for him eat 2 spoons and refuse the rest. I needed to choose what was on offer to eat, but it was his responsibility to eat. – this was a massive shift in thinking for me. I used to stress so much when he refused to eat anything new, but this new mindset literally saved my sanity.
- I felt confident- so when the boundaries were pushed (which he did often try to do) I no longer crumbled, and he energetically felt this. Soon, he had no choice, but to join the party so to speak as I no longer gave his refusal the attention he wanted.
Techniques for him:
- EDUCATION - I explained to him what was going to be happening and why the food we ate would be changing. It was very important to use language that he could understand.
- FUN - We made meal times together an event – it was a time of coming together, talking about the day and sharing and taking the focus off eating per say. If this was successfully achieved, he was rewarded
- REWARD - I found his hot button which was a reward based system using points, 1 point = $1. One of his love languages is gifts. To know this information about your child is just priceless. Speak to them in their love language. We all have at least 2 dominating ones out of 5. We had a treasure box with smaller gifts such as pencils, hot wheel cars etc, and when he reached a certain number of points, he could choose a gift from the treasure box. And once he had sufficient points, 10 or 20 he could have a bigger reward to that value – this was golden for him and kept him motivated. We still utilise this concept today....except the reward value is little higher...eeek. The beauty of this is that you get to use choose what behaviours you want to reward and give them the control to make the right choice
- BOUNDARIES - What was on the table, is what was on offer to eat – NOTHING else. It was his choice to eat it or not and nothing else was provided if he chose to not eat.
- CHOICE - Sometimes I provided 2 choices and he could decide which one he would like – this also worked really well as he felt some form of control.
- POSITIVE AFFIRMATION - When he did eat something he had not eaten before or at least tried something before refusing – the praise was enormous – sometimes over the top – because that is what worked for him
My mindset, these techniques coupled with a healing with wholefoods approach is what took him from a ridiculously fussy eater to a champion eater today.
In reality – HE was not a fussy eater, which was a label we put on him. Fussy eating was a symptom of an unbalanced gut microbiome along with nutritional deficiencies. Once we remedied this through healing wholefood nutrition, his body cried out for more food, and soon I had the opposite the problem..........he would not stop eating. I then a problem of a different kind....keeping up with the demand.....lol.
Today I still feel so much gratitude when I watch him eat as I know that was not always the framed picture I looked at.
Chantal is a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Coach that specialises in helping stressed and overwhelmed mums heal their children with wholefoods using a personalised wholistic step by step approach.