Do you have a fussy eater?
Do you have a fussy eater that needs lunch boxes but they often come home uneaten or barely touched? Then read on for my top tips for packing lunch box for fussy eater and things to remember as a parent and the role we play with our children
Yesterday following the article that went live talking budget lunch box tips on BBC News Online, I was invited onto the drive time show on BBC Radio Wales to talk lunch boxes and top packed lunch box tips with Claire Summers, but sadly we ran out of time…
As I could not share all my top tips with Claire on the radio show, I decided to share them here and help you all with some tips that has helped me with my fussy eaters! So, if you are like Claire and have a fussy eater at home, then read my top tips below.
My top tips for packing a lunch box for a fussy eater
So I am sharing here and below in the latest youtube video my top tips for the challenges you may face with a fussy eater needing packed lunch boxes for school.
1 remember this is not personal!
Kids are sent to challenge us! They are expressing how they feel.
We all want to feel comfortable. That’s how the human brain was designed. To seek feeling comfortable and to avoid anything uncomfortable. Maybe there are things happening in school – a new friendship, a new teacher, a new class, a new school that is making them feel extra uncomfortable, so they are pushing back on the only ways they feel they can. The lunch box and food.
As parents we need to remember this. Easier said than done I know, but we need to try and empathise with them. Stay calm and carry on and remember this is most likely a phase… This will pass.
2 the kids don’t have alot of time to eat lunch! Make it easy for them to eat!
The kids do not have a lot of time to eat lunch! Often it is only 15 minutes before they are encouraged to go outside and play!
Why is this important to remember? We need to therefore pack a lunch that avoids any kind of obstacles, barriers or overwhelm, when they open up that lunch box.
we want them to feel they can 1) easily get into the lunch box and 2) tuck in and eat it, as it is all bitesize or easy for them to navigate!
If you want lots more ideas, then do check out the Lunchbox World YouTube channel – there are nearly 200 videos there now, in a variety of different playlists, all to help you!
3 make a list of all things they do like
kids can be fickle and like things Monday, but hate it Tuesday. We need to keep agile with this!
If we have a list then we might just feel a little bit more in control. And if we know the staples, we can keep introducing them to foods and keep presenting food in different ways. Plus if we have this list, this will help with lunch box planning and the food shop!
4 remember kids have phases!
This reminder really helped me realise the kids are fickle. They do have phases. On Monday they may dislike something, but then see their best friend eating and suddenly they think it is cool and they love it!
My tip here is to stay calm and carry on! Yes, we may need to bite our tongue!
I would also say, remember to breathe. Take a deep breath. Kids do challenge us in our every move. Some things, I believe, we need to push back on, and let them know where the boundaries are. And remind them of what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour. Again we are there as role models for our kids. We need to remember this and to provide a framework so the child knows where they stand.
5 adopt the 10 times rule!
I borrowed this from Annabel Karmel when my kids were little and already pushing back on food. The 10 times rule says you have to try something 10 times before you can say you don’t like it. This is not in the same sitting nor same day, but over time. In our family this has now become a bit of a long standing joke…. Maybe in some instances, the kids have only been exposed to something 8 times, so they need to try it again and again before they truly can say they do not like it!
Encourage the kids to try. Keep representing food at meal times. Encourage them to be brave! And also you as a parent need to be brave as you know maybe you will get push back. But remember, what’s the worst that can happen? To you? or to them? They might try it and actually like it! And you had all that sweat and angst for nothing.
If you try it and spit it out, fine. At least they tried….. But try the 10 times rule and let me know how you get on!
6 our roles as parents are as guides, teachers to our children
The children are born as a blank canvas! We are there to help them navigate the journey of life!
We need to remember if we have boisterous toddlers or a primary school child with limited repertoire of food likes, we need to behave as role models. Show them we eat the food. Sit round the table. Have meals together. Do not confront. Do not demand they eat, but rather gently persuade or just present it on the table and encourage them to have it on their plate.
Our role is to encourage the kids, to guide them and to equip them in life. My mantra has always been to prepare the children, so that when they leave home, they are ready to conquer the world, in whatever way they dream of! This could be heading off to college or to uni, or simply on a date with a girlfriend or boyfriend. I try and equip them so they are confident at the meal table, have tried lots of foods, know how to behave and are not daunted by various scenarios. I also try and ensure they are equipped for whatever life might throw at them and to know that there will be issues, problems, highs, lows that they encounter and it is our role as parents to help equip them so they can cope with these challenges and come out the other side, all in one piece.
Maybe this has turned into a deeper look at why perhaps children become fussy eaters, but I truly believe we need to remember and have an awareness of what our role is as a parent, and how we can help our children. It is very easy to be caught up in the minutae of every day and to grab that quick solution of the same meal over and over again to avoid that conflict. I know each and every day there are social pressures, pressures from social media, from our peer group, from the kid’s peer group. We need to plough our own furrow, do what we feel is best for us, our families and our children.
I’ve also just uploaded this week’s video on to the Lunchbox World YouTube channel with more lunch box tips for fussy eaters:
So five final reminders to help you on your way: we love colour, and eat in colour.
Remember the 5 c’s – more top tips for packing lunch box for a fussy eater
colour : eat in colour. Make the lunch box as colourful as possible
cutters : use cookie cutters to make the food fun – check out my lunch box videos for lots more lunch box inspiration.
choice : let the kids feel they have a choice in what they have to eat – I am not saying give carte blanche but if there are a couple of options, then that is a fair compromise. The kids feel they have a say and the parent feels they have limited the number of choices, so in my mind, this is win win.
change it up : variety is key. Have a varied lunch box. Keep changing it up. The last thing you want is they have the same lunch day in and day out and then get so bored of it, they never want that combo ever again…
control the controllables – be ready with a variety of goodies in the freezer! That way you as a parent will feel more in control!
If you like these tips and want to learn more, I have created several lunch box courses to help equip you with everything you need to pack lunch boxes for your kids.
Our goal as a parent is to have healthy happy kids that thrive in life. Right?
We want them to eat and we need to give it time. It may not happen over night. Just baby steps. My goal as well is to help show you ways to stay connected to your children and your children to food.
Sending much love.
If you have any questions on my top tips for packing lunch box for a fussy eater, then comment below.
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Keep an eye out for the new video sharing more fussy eater lunch box tips this over on the Lunchbox World YouTube channel!
Here to help, here to serve!
The lunch box lady
The lunch box expert x