DIY: 7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater
By Laura Cipullo RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom
“I just want to go home and eat what I eat everyday for lunch.”
Is this your child? It is most definitely my child, as this is what he said to me on Friday when we walked into the burger joint known for its burgers and milkshakes. When he said this, I just let out a deep breath and decided it would be milkshakes for lunch. He doesn’t like change, and therefore he doesn’t like change in food, rules, or where he puts the furniture in Minecraft.
But this does not mean that you or I should take the summer off from exposing our kids to new foods and/or textures. Actually, summer is ideal because schedules are changing, and you can create a new schedule that incorporates trying new foods, say, twice a week. There is no school, stress, or homework, so take advantage of this time.
I am trying to incorporate different foods into dinner meals on Sundays and Wednesdays. Just yesterday, the boys tried fresh mozzarella, which neither would eat. They liked it melted but not cold. Last week they tried vegetarian sushi with avocado (they both licked it). Remember, touching, licking, or just getting it on their plate can help. Of course, they get these new foods alongside their faves or sometimes before their favorites are served. They tried a falafel burger and cocoa-dusted almonds!
My oldest, Bobby, has taken to eating fresh corn on the cob with butter and salt each night with his dinner, while Billy has incorporated strawberries without the skin at each of his dinner meals. That’s right, no skins. One night he said, “Mommy, I like the insides of strawberries.” My husband told me that Billy would eat the strawberries’ flesh, but he could not take a big bite. So I got the peeler out and voila!! He is now my strawberry man. So as summer begins, we will take this opportunity to continue exposing the boys to new foods and even former foods.
The food exposure may follow this progression or something similar.
Recognize that this is helpful for toddlers, children, and even pre-teens.
- First, get the food on the same plate
- Next, get touch involved. Maybe your child touches the food with their fingers or puts the food to his/her cheek or lips
- Employ the One Lick Rule
- Employ the One Chew and Spit—if you must
- Use the One Bite Rule
- Use the Three Bites Rule if your child has achieved the One Bite with that food
- Make the food part of the main meal on a regular basis
If you think that your child may have issues with sensory integration, get the expert advice of a speech pathologist and/or an occupational therapist. Books that may help include Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids: How to Teach Your Child About the Joy of Food by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, and Ellyn Satter’s Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook.
Keep your eyes open for MDIO’s (Mom Dishes It Out’s) upcoming blog on when to get a consult from a speech therapist versus, occupational therapist or dietitian.
And of course, let us know what works for you. Does your child fit the description of Potock’s case examples, or does your child easily follow the flow set by Satter’s “Division of Responsibility”?