What can a Registered Dietitian do to Help Picky Eaters?
Picky eating is one of the most frustrating things you can encounter as a parent. It's one of those things you don't think about before you have kids. Or if you do think about it, what you think is... "not my kid."
Then some time in the toddler years it hits! A child who refuses dinner or snack or lunch or seemingly all foods. This is when it breaks you. A child must eat, so you resort to all kinds of tricks to get them to eat. The famous airplane bite, the “I'll cook you something else”, the threats, bribes and begging.
All of a sudden you realize none of it is working and you have no idea anymore how to help your little munchkin eat what you've made. What you thought was a phase they would grow out of now seems to be sticking around a lot longer than expected.
When should you reach out for help?
-when you or your child start to dread meal and snack times (that's like 5-6 times a day)
-your child is refusing to eat entire food groups (such as no meat or no veggies)
-your child seems to be relying on milk to fill up their tummy
-trying a new food results in a meltdown or more worry than seems normal
-your child refuses food at meals but then wants only snacks and you feel caught between giving them the snack or your child going hungry
-you are worried about a lack of certain nutrients and worried about how they are growing
-all this continues past the age of 5
What can a Registered Dietitian, like me, do to help?
Mealtime Joy: This has a lot to do with understanding your feeding role as the parent, reducing pressure and increasing connection and inclusion at the table and beyond. I can assess the meal and home environment, and together with you discuss strategies towards improvement that can be worked into daily life. Parents are often surprised the strategies take no extra time, but can be worked into feeding opportunities as they come up.
What is going on? I can determine reasons why your child may be a picky eater. Is it sensory challenges, difficulty chewing, grazing, too much milk, fear/worry over new foods, too much pressure, pain, nutrient deficiencies, incorrect seating, or even constipation? A deep dive into your child’s nutrition and medical history can sometimes uncover a problem that needs addressing or help you develop empathy for why they do the crazy things they do.
Food Variety: This is what every parent wants! More bites of more foods. I can help you to set realistic goals to increase food variety & nutrition. This can all be done in a fun, play-while-you-learn way to keep frustrations and fears low. If including your picky eater at the table has you at a total loss, we can create do-able meal plans so everyone can eat together. If you’ve been using “I just give them whatever they want, whenever they want it” and it’s not working for you or feeling right, now is the time to start working with a dietitian.
What do I do when (fill in the blank): Sometimes you need a new way of tackling an old problem that feels good to you. Endless snack requests, obsession with desserts, meltdowns over the menu can leave you feeling defeated. Having a well thought out script can give you back the confidence you need to lead this feeding frenzy!
Address Worry: When eating isn’t going well parents feel it by worrying. You worry about growth & development, if they will ever grow to enjoy foods, or if they could be lacking in a nutrient vital to their long term health. You also feel like the worst parent ever, getting advice from friends and family that is not helpful. We will address your worries at every visit so we can ensure your child is getting the nourishment and care they need. Current intake can be assessed for gaps in micronutrients, and the need for supplementation can be identified. Parents have a lot of guilt over making sure they do “nutrition right.” I want to ease these worries and bring your long term nutrition vision to life.
Skill building with parents: decreasing pressure while kids are eating, adequate seating, knowing how often to serve desserts/treats/snacks, helping to wean off the baby bottle or device distracted meals, meal schedules, meal time routines and meal planning
Skill building with kids: how to try new foods, touching and exploring foods, play with food, learning how to describe food beyond yuck and yum, ranking & rating foods, learning about how foods grow,, and how certain nutrients help their body
Dietitian Services can be a Covered Benefit
What? A dietitian for free? A dietitian is the first person you should lean on to level up your food game. Often, health benefit plans will cover the cost of a dietitian. Call your benefit provider today so you can stop worrying, increase your confidence and develop a plan for feeding your family. Whether you have one kid or all the kids who are picky, a registered dietitian, like me, is here to ease your worry, make your life easier, and get the whole family enjoying the food experience.
Hey! This is me, Christie. I promise I'm not usually so nerdy looking with all the books :) If you're curious about what I can do to help your child with picky eating, book a free 20 minute consult.