Older Children and Teenage Fussy Eaters
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Although teenagers often have very similar difficulties to younger children, these can impact on their social life and learning. Dealing with the school dining room at secondary school can be a challenge. The number of food choices, noise and smell may be overwhelming. A young person may find it difficult to cope with the unpredictability of what the person sitting next to them may eat.
At secondary school young people often find Food Technology a source of anxiety. This maybe the first time they are expected to have direct contact with unfamiliar foods. They may worry about having to look at, touch or smell the food. The food prepared in Food Technology is usually brought home rather than eaten at school which may enable some children to cope better than if the expectation was to eat the food.
Many teenagers social lives involve food in some form. Teenagers often meet at restaurants or order takeaways which can be difficult for those who find their non-preferred foods challenging. They may avoid these social situations.
Parents of children who have been extreme fussy eaters for a long time tell us they have stopped offering alternative foods. They cook the young person’s preferred food and avoid family meals together. Outings to restaurants are often restricted to those they know will serve the young person’s preferred food. Families tell us that Christmas and celebrations are often very stressful for all family members as they feel they are expected to sit together having the same food. Explaining to extended family members why the young person refuses to eat the family food can be challenging.
Some parents contact us when their child is in school years 5 and 6 as school trips and camps are approaching. They are concerned their child may not be able to have their preferred foods whilst away and will go hungry. Some parents tell us they want to avoid sending their child on overnight stays due to their child’s fussy eating. Changing a child’s eating habits is not a quick fix as any change takes time to implement. If the trip is fast approaching and you are concerned contact the school/trip organiser to discuss your concerns and agree a meal time plan.
HOW MAGNIFICENT MUNCHERS CAN HELP
Magnificent Munchers Food School Programme is appropriate for children in primary schools. The team uses a more scientific approach with children aged 8 and over. We help them learn to understand more about food. Within the Food School older children do some simple food preparation and cooking, which is shared with other group members. The focus is still fun but not so imaginative as it is with our younger members. Due to our high staff ratio we can cater for both the more imaginative approach with our younger members and the scientific approach with the older members within a session.
Our scientific approach involves helping child to use their inquisitive minds as we explore the food. We encourage the children to think about the following as they learn about a new food:
- What is the food doing for our body?
- What is the structure of the food?
- Where does it grow?
- What does the food smell like, let’s get descriptive?
- How can we make it change?
- How does it grow?
- How could we cook it?
When parents/carers of teenagers contact us we have a discussion to determine if the young person wants to change their eating habits. We need the young person to engage in therapy sessions in order to effect change. We can support young people with their concerns/worries and work together to help them increase their food range and overcome any fears. Sometimes a referral to CAMHS is recommended. Young people aged 11 + are seen individually in their home where they have the option to be involved more in the planning, shopping, preparing and cooking of food. Whatever the child’s age we work at the child’s pace and have fun.
Jacqueline offers a free phone consultation to discuss each child’s individual eating difficulties with parents/carers. During the consultation any medical conditions should be discussed and it will be determined if individual or group sessions would be most appropriate for your child.
To find out more about how Magnificent Munchers benefits older children (8+ years) and teenagers who are picky eaters or have difficulty at mealtimes call 07591 733420 or email the Magnificent Munchers team firstname.lastname@example.org