The healthy eating and food related issues that dyspraxic children can have certainly takes a lot more patience than you sometimes have to give. It can require a lot of thought and can quite literally eat into your time as a family. Personally, I’ve spent many a meal time coaxing one child to eat and finish a meal while the other would be only too willing to eat everyones! Hilarious, I know! If I could quite literally half these traits, I’d have the model child….If one exists. So, my thing is consistency and trying to maintain that can be really vital.
Here are a few more suggestions to try out:
Only cooking one meal with everyone eating the same meal can limit the number of choices and headaches for you as a mum having to cook several different combinations of meals. However, by allowing your children to dip foods into their favourite sauces like tomato ketchup to disguise/make the taste more bearable equally lessens the tension around the food and allows them freedom to adapt the meal to suit their tastes.
Setting expectations and agreeing rules/boundaries in advance is always a good thing so both you and your child know in advance where the line in the sand is. For instance, if you want your child to eat 4 pieces of broccoli – make a big deal of how he/she gets the smaller broccoli pieces, while dad has to have the really big pieces. Or giving him/her 6 pieces on their plate, (knowing that 4 is the target) and explaining that it’s ok to leave those 2 makes for a really good compromise.
“Dangling a carrot” particularly for those lunch boxes that return as beautifully as they went into school can be hugely beneficial. For instance, by making an agreement that if four of your child’s school lunches are eaten during the week it will be your child’s favourite food night, for example “pizza” on Thursday, can prove to be enough to keep them focused and stop you from worrying.
Special cutlery, crockery, beakers to assist is always worth investing in to make life easier and there are lots of them out on the market. Additionally, divider style plates and bowls can assist with food physically being separated and are great for visual portion control. As well having “Favourite”/”Novelty” lunch boxes, beakers, crockery & cutlery also help especially for the smaller family members – but remember to buy a couple so your never without. This can be hugely effective in minimising battles, tantrums and meltdowns….
Another tip would be to buy visually smaller looking crockery that holds the same quantity of food. This can prove to be a smart way of getting them on board to eat healthy!
Written by Catherine Whelan, as part of the Irish Association of Dyspraxia’s Healthy Eating blog series, www.dyspraxia.ie