FUSSY EATERS: How to support kids with limited food intake
Many kids have a limit on the food they want to eat. They can get quite set on their favourite meals and eat them over and over again. As parents, we then wonder how we can help support kids with limited food intake or fussy eaters.
In fact, many kids get stuck in a food rut and don’t have an openness or curiosity around new foods.
Ruth Fellowes is a clinical nutritionist, educator and one of our wellness experts. She’s here to help share her tips on how to support kids with limited food intake or fussy eaters. You can hear more about this topic in her podcasts on the Healthy Mummy Wellness App.
“Many of us as parents have experienced a child who wants to eat the same thing repeatedly. But there are ways to help support kids with limited food intake and bring more variety to meal time. This can lead them to try new foods and make healthier choices,” she says.
“The focus is on us to be the teacher and teach our little ones about healthy eating.”
The rotation rule for fussy eaters
The rotation rule is a great way to support kids with limited food intake. This rule isn’t going to magically work overnight, says Ruth. But there has been a lot of improvement in many families with fussy eaters who have introduced this rule.
In a nutshell, the rule is to NEVER eat the same food TWO days in a row. There’s one exception to the rule, and that’s milk.
“It’s a guide. You can break it occasionally. It could be you’re on holiday or a special day,” says Ruth.
“It’s something that is doable, and you can draw from a list of food you know your kids like or will eat. So include foods that they like or will eat some amount of.”
“Let your child know this is happening, and they even help you select healthy food from the list. You can tell them we are going to try and eat healthier foods to help look after ourselves’.”
“Breakfast can be toast as one food, the second one can be cereal, the third pancakes and so on. You can be creative. There’s no such thing as dinner food or breakfast food. Food is just food.”
“Make a list, you can have the list on the fridge, and your child may feel they have control over what they eat.”
In fact, a great way to support kids with limited food intake is to get your fussy eater kids to plan with you. Then they’re invested and feel part of it. Work with foods that you know they have a level of comfort with.
“It won’t take a huge amount of time, then you can introduce new foods to add to the list,” says Ruth.
“You’re starting to teach them what variety is. This is a very subtle way of starting to create a bit of expectation that food is going to be a bit different.”
Here’s a road map on introducing variety.
Giving a choice to help support kids with limited food intake
With the rotation rule, you can still give your fussy eater children a choice.
“You can give them a choice, for example, ‘do you want eggs or cereal for breakfast?’ Don’t give them more than that,” says Ruth.
“Give this rule a go. You might be surprised. It seems like it might be hard work, but most of the time, it works. You also start to have a bit more control over what they’re eating, and you know what to expect and what they’re asking for.”
“The rotation rule is a way for them to get used to different types of food.”
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