For me, fussy eating is one of the most stressful parts of parenthood. I've fretted, panicked and cried over it. There is nothing more infuriating than lovingly preparing a home cooked meal just for your child to say, 'Yuk, I'm not eating that.' Without even tasting a mouthful. Nothing more upsetting than worrying that your child is going to starve because they won't eat what you are giving them. However, having learned the hard way, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's been tough, and we still have a way to go, but I'm so proud of my kids!
I'll give you a bit of background. My Son was 2, when he got a really nasty case of gastroenteritis. He was really poorly with it. It was such an ordeal for him that he refused to eat anything that he remembered eating just before he became ill. So spaghetti bolognese (his favourite) was then heaved at and pushed away. Even the sight of it would make him upset. It soon progressed to anything with a sauce or 'wet' as he would describe it.
Really, he had become 'food phobic' but I hadn't heard of that until a few years ago.Thankfully, he still enjoyed a variety of healthy foods, providing they were 'plain'.I longed to have a meal we could all eat together, but.. rightly or wrongly, I would make sure his food was how he would eat it. I figured, it was better he ate something, who cares whether he had his tomatoes raw or in a sauce?!! He wouldn't eat sandwiches, or anything that we couldn't see what was underneath. Eventually, he would start to eat more things, but its been a lengthy process!
I discovered Annabel Karmel when weaning my second child. I made all her baby food myself and relished at being in control of what she was eating and loved the fact that she enjoyed it. I hoped this would encourage her Brother to become interested in more foods...and although it didn't always seem like it, it really did help. The steps were small, but they were there. For example, I would make my Daughter Sharon fruit with greek yogurt. My Son would refuse the yogurt but would eat the fruit. He was my little milk monster (and still is) so I wasn't worried about the calcium, more the fat content. He always loved cheese, so that was my saviour.
Being calm and not causing a fuss is essential when dealing with a fussy eater. But easier said than done, I have to say. It's hard work, and doesn't happen overnight, but we're getting there!
For a few years now, I have encouraged my children to help in the kitchen, not only to learn, but so they see what is going into their meals. A love for food starts in the kitchen after all! They regularly make a choice of foods themselves (with lots of help of course!) You may have seen my recent hot chocolate post which is one of our latest achievements. Pizza is always a favourite, and it's really easy for children to make.
Recently, my Mother-in-Law bought my eldest Daughter Annabel Karmels 'You Can Cook'
and we randomly pick out a recipe once a week for the children to make. It's a fabulous step by step kids cookbook by the way, and I highly recommend it. This week was 'Fish parcels in tomato sauce' which is a fillet of white fish topped with tomato, and a dressing. As soon as my Son heard which recipe he was , I could see the panic in his eyes. Part of me wanted to say, 'shall we pick again?' but that wasn't the idea... I think he sensed that and quickly replied, 'well, I said I would try it...!' My heart melted at that point. What a star! As his Mum, I know that was really brave, and as bad as it sounds, I expected him to back out. But he didn't... He handled raw haddock, prepared the the topping, wrapped up his parcel.... and the best bit..... ATE it!!! Not just a half hearted, 'show it to your teeth' sort of taste... He ATE every scrap, and ENJOYED it!! Now, I did wait until he had finished his meal, but I couldn't help it.. I hugged him and told him I was thrilled to bits! -I think he kind of guessed at my huge smile (or shocked expression!)
A couple of photos:
I hope this is the start of things to come! My other 2 children eat anything you put in front of them! I'll let you know how we get on!