My approach to mealtimes is broken down into four clear stages.
This first stage is about laying the foundations and learning facts such as how children’s bodies have the ability to regulate their own appetites and how it is completely normal for a child not to eat well at all 3 meals a day. This information is essential to be able to move onto the next stage.
The above information in this section has been checked and verified by paediatric dietician, Judy More www.child-nutrition.co.uk.
Very rarely are stressful mealtimes actually to do with the kids! From the parents I have spoken to (and we are talking hundreds now!), they describe themselves as being too emotionally involved with what and how much their child eats, it is hard to detach and I totally get that (read About to hear my story on this). I have seen astounding changes in many families just by changing some of the body language and actual verbal language parents use at the table. Stage two is all about this and the shift in mindset from the parent’s side. I get parents to think about thinking more long-term than on one particular meal. How to deal with wasted food and high expectations on their kids, using humour more at the table, not using bribery, plus many more. All the suggestions in this stage are simple changes that can be made immediately and require no reading or planning, just consistency!
Once you are starting to understand more about self-regulation of appetite and practising more stage two ideas, mealtimes will become lighter. You will feel lighter. They won’t be perfect, but what area of parenting is?! Stage 3 is all about things you can do at home to encourage happier eating and eat a more varied range of food. I suggest lots of easy, practical ideas for sensory play, which gets children more comfortable around food without the pressure on them to try it. Ideas on how you can use leftovers to encourage your child to broaden their food tastes, how to eat together and loads more.
This is all about how to deal with factors out of the home. How to make eating out more enjoyable, how to deal with people around you when you feel they are judging you and how to deal with other people’s views around kids, food and mealtimes and how to tune them out if need be!