A Mum’s Experience with a Fussy Eating 3 year old!

This journal was written by a Mum who recently completed my Fussy Eaters Course. It is such an insightful piece that with permission it has been copied below for you to read. It starts with the family’s frustrations and you can see their journey and the outcome as you follow the diary entries.

“At the beginning of the course, I was really at my wits end with what to do next, feeling despair and failure, constantly anxious about what Amelia was / wasn’t eating.  I was considering not taking part in the course as it was so close to Christmas; however I’m so glad we did, despite the viral nasties attacking us for so long, we have stuck to it working it around our own time and requirements (the flexibility of it being online) and all feel so much better now.”

Before Starting

Currently it feels as if Amelia has eaten pretty much the same foods since she began weaning i.e. pasta, tomato sauces, humus, pizza, sausages.  This feels like a long time as she is now turning 3.  She generally has a good appetite if given something that she knows and likes, which completely relieves me.  However, Amelia often flatly refuses to try any of the foods I have offered as an alternative i.e. mash potato, chicken, roast dinners and has a problem with textures of the foods she isn’t sure of.  Her resistance has resulted in tears on Amelia’s part and me being racked with guilt and afraid that I will give her a food complex!  I and the rest of the family have resigned to the fact that if we have something she won’t eat, we will have to give her something she will eat to make sure she has ‘something’.  I am constantly worrying about her repetitive food intake, if she is getting enough variety and definitely stress a lot about mealtimes, whether it be eating at home or going to a restaurant.  Recently, I have been telling her that if she doesn’t eat what I have given her there will be no more food but have also used food as a reward etc; sometimes this has a positive effect but not always.  I desperately want mealtimes to be relaxed and enjoyable, instead of generally turning into a bribe or a battle!

Week 1

Most days Amelia has eaten a very small amount – midweek.

We have made an effort not to stress and pressure her to eat at mealtimes however have reminded her that if she does not eat some food then she will be hungry until the next meal.

Noticed that towards the end of the week Amelia was talking about food more to me which she doesn’t normally, also she has been asking for food and saying she is hungry, it would appear that she is beginning to realise that if she doesn’t eat her food then she will not be able to have food in between and so she seems to be saying no when you try to take the food away however still taking a long time to eat, does this mean that she isn’t hungry when we give the food but wants it to stay until she feels the hunger?

Personally I have had a lovely week with no stress and am realising that Amelia won’t starve if she misses a meal and in fact doesn’t have to be hungry at the same time as I am and that I am not a terrible parent if I let her go without a meal.

It feels like a re-education also on the reward / punishment of food as I would often say if you don’t eat all of your dinner you can’t have desert or a biscuit and milk.

I am still anxious about introducing foods and feel that we should eat what she will eat so we can all eat together – this could be force of habit but is still a stress element.

My partner said that he was relieved to see me less stressed and also noticed Amelia saying that she was hungry but thought he may be looking out for it.

Week 2

After Week 2, I am still trying not to stress and carry over the work from week 1, not making her eat all food but I have a constant worry that she isn’t getting enough and what do I cook tonight that she will eat, trying to eat foods that I know she can join us at the table with rather than eating separate meals.  Mum has her on a Tue – Wed – Thur and I feel she is at a loss for what to give Amelia as she tends not to introduce new things and have a real routine with her therefore biscuits and sausage rolls seem to appear quite a bit as well as lots of little bits throughout the day – I’ve been trying not to let Amelia snack too much in between meals and she will say she is hungry coming up to dinner time but I try to hang on even though I do sometimes she’ll eat a tiny amount of the dinner I give depending on what I serve!

Having ticked off the foods in the food groups, I can see she is getting bits from each food group which will also vary slightly depending on what else goes into the shopping list but this still doesn’t satisfy me – I really think I have high expectations and blame myself that she isn’t getting this (who else is to blame!)   The list however is very helpful and I will be using this for inspiration for the weekly shop i.e. nuts for snacks and dried fruit, more bean based dishes.

Is it normal to have to blend food and mix with rice etc, we seem to have lots of one pot meals and I constantly wonder if this is what other families do!

I am having some issues with Amelia regarding eating lunch, dinner in that she seems to get bored quickly which means she will give up and move away from the table and not eat much, I’m not making her eat all of her dinner but she isn’t understanding that if she doesn’t eat enough then she can’t have anything later, I suppose persistence is the key here.

………………………………

Amelia has been suffering on and off with various colds, I think we may have to put the course on hold for a bit until she is better as she has begun to refuse foods which is beginning to stress me and her so we’ll have to come back to week 3 when she is feeling better. 

………………………………

Week 3

OK so smaller portion sizes, I’m not sure this will make much difference as she doesn’t eat a lot of what I give but will give this a go and see how we get on.   The food chart has really helped, even talking about the foods that we all individually like and dislike has helped and I think Amelia was surprised looking at the list of foods that we’d made, at how many foods she likes.  Hopefully we will be adding to the chart!

I do keep telling myself that not everyone likes everything and we don’t all have to like the same things.  We reassure Amelia with this but we do ask her to try something before deciding she doesn’t like it.

Week 3 has been useful, I am more aware of how much I am giving to Amelia at meal times and just to use as a reminder that Amelia doesn’t necessarily have to eat 3 meals a day as she may not be hungry, quite simply.

The highlighted reminders on the plans are a great recap of the principle points to remember, which I do often lose sight of.

I have also used time within week 3 to begin planning for week 4 – meal planner (it has been useful to have the Week 4 plan in advance as I wanted to look at every meal for each day).

Week 4

I’ve planned a full week of meals – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner including snacks which took me quite some time, trying to factor foods that we all like, introducing Amelia to some new foods while ensuring she had meals during the day which she would eat also – Maybe I am making this harder than it needs to be.  The shopping has taken longer than usual hopefully this will speed up.

The week is going well, I have made the flapjacks which are a big hit with everyone, really yummy, we’re trying to introduce something new most days – cheese is now one of Amelia’s fav foods – she has always hated this but for some reason I gave it to her and she loved sprinkling it on her bolognaise and now has it in wraps too!  She really loves eating the sugar snap peas from the pods and also has a love of carrots.  As well as actually being open to trying new foods, she has even asked me if she could taste something – this is a real first for Amelia, I’m so relieved.  We do still have the hard times with foods she will point blank refuse to eat i.e. Jacket potatoes – we tried this for lunch one day and it was a big no no, then tried sweet potato instead with humus and cheese, I loved it, Amelia wouldn’t touch it, I think we will just have to keep offering until one day it happens.

I do seem to be falling into a rut with some meals, where I really don’t think she’ll eat what is on her plate I then tend to add rice so that she has a little of something she will eat, I think I may have missed the point with this as it seems to be happening too often.  So have decided to stop offering this as an alternative to what she has on her plate already.  Hopefully this is the right step.

SUMMARY

Children-eating-heathyAt the beginning of the course, I was really at my wits end with what to do next, feeling despair and failure, constantly anxious about what Amelia was / wasn’t eating.  I was considering not taking part in the course as it was so close to Christmas; however I’m so glad we did, despite the viral nasties attacking us for so long, we have stuck to it working it around our own time and requirements (the flexibility of it being online) and all feel so much better now.

Having the weekly plans and encouraging recordings, which have reiterated to me a lot of what I know but having someone to say this from the outside has been a great reassurance.  They guidance has taken a lot of pressure away and relieved my anxiety and worry that she isn’t getting enough nutrients or eating the right foods by using methods which actually show me that she is i.e. the checklist we kept in Week 2 was great for a point of reference for the following weeks.  It made me see that in fact Amelia really doesn’t do too badly, ok so she loves pasta, rice and noodles but we mainly eat the whole wheat variety with lots of veg (even if it is hidden in sauces).

We have had a few occasions where tears have made an appearance but I know I can go back to any stage of the plan and start from where I feel either Amelia or I need to be refreshed.  The course has made me rethink the way I look at food and how I think Amelia perceives food.

Thanks to the alleviation of my stress and anxiety levels, Amelia seems more relaxed around food and willing to try new things. I am more relaxed and can see that everyone else is relaxing around me!

The recipes are very useful and we’re working our way through to see what we can introduce to our weekly meals, some are hits and others are misses  – the flapjacks and Buckwheat pancakes are a real hit!

The content and guidance was well thought out and structured, extremely helpful and definitely encouraging.  The online support was helpful but only real changes can be made with personal effort.

Looking back at how frustrated we were, we would have been happy to pay anything to get where we are now and feel that the course is extremely good value for money!

We still have hurdles to jump but they don’t seem so high now! I would definitely recommend this course to anyone with a fussy eater.

You can sign up for the fussy little eaters course here

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