6 critical phases that will make mealtimes with ‘picky eaters’ better

6 critical phases that will make mealtimes with ‘picky eaters’ better

My girls and I were just having lunch. Yet while watching Sienna (my eldest daughter) eat without a fuss, I had a flashback to those days when meals were…miserable. Before I implemented these 6 phases to fix her picky eating, Sienna would spit out food, resist coming to the table, and even gag (or vomit) after a taste of yogurt. I seem to have blocked those memories out of my mind. Until today. I remember finding “kid-friendly’ (and seemingly Sienna-friendly) recipes I was SURE she would love.  Smiling in the kitchen while preparing this guaranteed recipe, only to bring it to the table and hear “yuck” or watch Sienna push the plate away.  So frustrating, but that was an average meal for us. I never heard her say “I’m hungry“. I often heard the word “yuck“. She wasn’t gaining weight, nor was she really eating. I was a foodie, yet I sadly dreaded meals with daughter. But I was a Nutritionist and a mom who couldn’t accept this as our fate. So I took the bull by the horns and dove into the literature and research on children’s eating.  I wanted to find out WHY my daughter was so picky and HOW to turn things around.  Of course, I was fearful she would be one of 30% of children whose “picky eating” persists into adult years. At the time, I couldn’t see our life any other way: this was just the hand we were dealt. Yet all of the studying and Certifications eventually paid off and were used to create a structured mealtime plan for my daughter.  It was the...
40 Healthy Crunchy Foods for Kids

40 Healthy Crunchy Foods for Kids

I was just working on a family’s protocol offering up recommendations for healthier “crunchy” foods, and thought “I need to share this!”   I was going to squeeze it into my Free Picky Eating Webinar coming up, but it’s already a full hour of useful tips, there wasn’t much room/time left.  So here I am with my list of 40 healthy crunchy foods for kids! Most kids do very well with crunchy foods.  Especially picky eaters. When Sienna went through her earlier phases of extreme picky eating, crunchy foods were a staple.  If I steered into the territory of mushy foods (like muffins) or slimy foods (like yogurt) it was anxiety-provoking.  I had to prepare myself for a lot of gagging, and even vomitting.  Nope…those days were not fun. But here we are today, with a little girl who had my homemade pumpkin seed & zucchini crackers for breakfast, with hazelnut butter, and some coconut yogurt.  No gagging and no tears.  I NEVER thought things would change, but with some tweaks and the Picky Eater Protocol we completely turned things around.  She is a different child at meals and stress is long gone. Why children crave crunchy foods? SENSORY PREFERENCES Picky eaters like my daughter in her earlier years, tend to be selective with food because of their sensory preferences.  For instance, a child can be under sensitive  or over sensitive to sensory input like smell, taste and texture.   When we are under sensitive, we can’t process sensory input from food properly or feel softer textures in our mouth (think of it as if the sensation in our mouth being numbed).  When sensations are numbed, we would avoid foods like yogurt, bread, etc. and instead develop a preference for crunchier foods.  Sienna...
Green Eggs No Ham (a healthy breakfast for picky eaters)

Green Eggs No Ham (a healthy breakfast for picky eaters)

Breakfasts can make or break our days, right parents? Blood sugar is low and the kids likely need some nourishment after a 12 hour fast. We would love to offer a healthy breakfast for our picky eaters.  However, if we make something that doesn’t appeal to them, all hell can break lose.  So to keep things tame in the early hours we feed our kids a breakfast we know they will happily eat.  Before we know it, we get stuck in a cereal rut.     Unfortunately, most kid-friendly breakfasts are a great source of SUGAR and simple carbs which take that low blood sugar WAY up.  And soon after, it comes crashing right back down.  Those typical breakfast favourites are nutrient-lacking, but tasty and easy for kids to eat.   The benefit to parents is that they are also (more often than not) easy to prepare with few ingredients. …Throw some PB&J on some toast. …Pour some milk into a cereal bowl. …Add fruit to a container of yogurt. One of the most common things I get from parents I work with is “Help! We need some breakfast ideas for our picky eater and our family“.   Thankfully, there are healthy kid-friendly breakfasts that are also easy to prepare. I’ve consolidated 10 of the best recipes right here (pssst…they all only have 5 ingredients or less).   Oddly enough, my girls (aged 4 and 2) have only had a bowl of cereal once. Our breakfasts are always changing.  Partly because their mom is fickle and likes to experiment with new foods and recipes all the time.  So when my girls wake up they have no idea what mom is going to throw...
Offer each food a million different ways

Offer each food a million different ways

“My daughter doesn’t eat apples.” That’s what I would have said after multiple attempts of giving her sliced apples. I could have (and would have) given up on those darn apples…if I hadn’t worked with families and limited eaters, nor studied children’s eating for years as a Certified Nutritionist and Picky Eating Expert. And another simple ‘picky eating’ solution is born! To us an apple is an apple.  An egg is an egg.  And chicken is chicken.  But how that food shows up on their plate and in their mouth makes a difference.  A big difference! A sliced granny smith apple is completely different from a whole granny smith apple, from both a sensory perspective and oral motor.    And a macintosh apple has a unique taste vs. a red delicious apple. So I knew I had to put my “Picky Eating Expert” hat back on and try a million new ways until I found the winning apple combination.  Ok, maybe not a million 😉 I had try a million dozen different apples.  Royal gala Golden delicious Granny smith Macintosh Red Delicious You get the gist! (and I can’t remember any other varieties at the moment) And I needed to offer that apple a million dozen different ways. Peeled Sliced Thinly sliced Really thinly sliced and peeled Cooked Shredded Half an apple A full apple Dried crunchy Dried soft With dips….and so on.   As I was handing Naomi her apple this morning it dawned on me that this was another simple “picky eating solution” I should share. As you may have guessed, my stubborn yet sweet, two year old Naomi is now an apple lover.  Partly because...
Coconut Yogurt Bark (dairy-free)

Coconut Yogurt Bark (dairy-free)

I’m completing the cheatsheets for the Energy Reboot starting on Monday, including my list of delicious and simple low-sugar treats.  Well, truth be told…I’ve been drooling the whole time!  This Coconut Yogurt Bark was a last minute addition after experimenting with a dairy-free version of one I saw on Pinterest. This recipe was another no-brainer to add to the program: It takes 3 minutes to prep (maybe even less) + freezer time It has 3 ingredients (or more if you choose to get crazy) It was a hit, for me and my little ones Here they are sampling (and loving) the frozen treat last night. I was going to keep it a secret and only share this Coconut Yogurt Bark with the tired moms who took joined the 20-day program, but my excitement got the best of me.  So here I am spilling the beans. A few pointers first: You may want to take it out of the freezer a few minutes before eating, just keep in mind that this stuff melts quickly (so keep a napkin handy). You’re also welcome to use dairy-based yogurt which will turn out just fine. But for those who prefer dairy-free this is the brand I use.     If you have a sweet tooth this is a great lower-sugar snack (4 grams for one piece).  Ultimately though, wouldn’t we all love to have more control over our cravings or none at all? Um yes please! There’s a reason why we gravitate to certain foods - be it chocolate or chips.  And I’ll be showing parents how to tame those cravings in the Energy Reboot (in addition to providing simple 5-minute strategies on boosting energy, health, sleep,...
Why parents should ‘fix’ picky eating early

Why parents should ‘fix’ picky eating early

So my techy husband set up our television at home to function as a digital photo album when the screen is idle (i.e. when my girls aren’t watching Calliou or Frozen for the 20th time).   He’s also a photographer so I have the luxury of seeing beautiful family photos cycle through – photos that bring back mostly pleasant early parenthood memories. Although, the other day I caught a photo that didn’t spark those fond memories in the slightest.  It was a picture of Sienna looking unhappy at the table.  What you can’t see is her anxious mother (me) sitting nearby and wanting so desperately for her to eat more. Those were not my happier days. That photo sucked me in and brought me back to ‘those times’…when I shed tears at the table and truthfully was fearful of mealtimes.  I was a foodie and loved to cook/eat but living with a picky eater took the joy out of eating. It saddens me to think that I spent the better part of time together consumed with getting Sienna to eat better and worried about her nutrition (being a Nutritionist, I knew what she needed).  I worked so darn hard trying to expand her appetite and food favourites, but with no real plan…and no real results. While our wonderful pediatricians were telling us everything was “fine”, my mommy instinct was telling it was not ‘fine’. Sienna was far from fine (she was so unhappy at meals and not interested in food). I was far from fine (I was worried and emotionally exhausted from the constant food battles). I see and speak with so many parents who are in ‘my old shoes’ and I so...

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