Children require good nutrition for growth and daily activities. They are wonderful self-regulators which means they eat when they are hungry and choose food that tastes good to them. This means that their intake can be variable at a time when they are learning to like new foods.
I have completed postgraduate training in Paediatric nutrition and am particularly passionate about assisting families to have & enjoy family mealtimes, an activity shown to provide greater emotional, social & educational outcomes than any extracurricular activity. That means family meals have a greater impact on a child’s development than sport, music, dance or drama. This is a focus of my practice and key part of my support with chronic conditions such as diabetes, poor growth, malabsorption/gut issues, food intolerance investigation and management.
What takes the joy out of family meals?
When family meal times feel like a battle ground, any joy found in preparing and sharing food is lost for parents and kids. This is in turn is a loss of valuable nutrition, social and emotional connection that is difficult to recover in later years.
When working with parents I first explore the how rather than what of feeding as research shows that with regular family meals and good feeding dynamics good nutrition will follow. This becomes the foundation stone of lifelong family security & communication.
While we are all individually & wonderfully made, families who include a fussy eater can feel battle weary at mealtimes, holidays, parties and just trying to fill a lunchbox.
I use Ellyn Satter’s evidence based method of assessing & working with you to correct your feeding dynamics so that you …
• Meet your child’s nutritional and developmental needs
• Prepare only one family meal for your whole family
• Become the rightful and confident nutrition educator for your family
• Allow your children to become “Competent Eaters” who in turn have a lifelong positive relationship with food
• Can enjoy your family meals
Problem Feeders are children who eat only a few foods and would rather go hungry than try something new.
The reasons for this can be complex but these children need to find a calm and safe place for ongoing feeding and gradual extension of feeding skills. A parent’s concern that their child may not be eating adequately can further increase a child’s food related stress and in turn negatively enforce the behaviour. Parental concern is mostly born out of love and care for their child but sometimes be caused by health professionals who are worried by poor growth. Fiona will work with you to identify and correct nutritional deficiencies so you can calmly manage meals knowing your child is consuming all the nutrients he or she needs. With time this allows your child to relax around mealtimes so that when repeatedly exposed to a pleasant experience gradual change can occur. Neuroplasticity[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELpfYCZa87g] is the basis for this approach as it gives us the hope that with the right environment positive change can occur & vice versa.
Additional assistance may also be required from a specialised occupational therapist regards sensory profiling and Speech Pathologist regards physical chewing & swallowing function.
This is managed by exploring with parents & where applicable, their referring doctors, the causes of poor intake and/or increased requirements to develop solutions. Solutions can include changes to mealtime management to aid appetite development and maximise mealtime pleasure, food fortification, use of commercial liquid supplements and possibly investigation or validation of food intolerances.
As childhood is a period of physical growth, emotional and social development which is nutritionally demanding, children should never be put on a low energy weight loss diet. However a child who is gaining weight at an accelerated rate need to have their usual feeding, sleep and activity patterns reviewed.
I work in conjunction with Paediatricians and GPs who investigate for any other underlying cause. Any dietitian intervention will have a family focus so that all family members are treated equally, and the desired behaviour change is more likely to become a family habit.
In the interest of not causing harm I would prefer to only see the parents of overweight Primary School age Children and younger for the first appointment to discuss the assessment and intervention process. High School kids and teens need to be part of the initial consult.
Where there is more than one child or one child and a parent who require assessment and intervention, a family appointment will be required.
Food Allergy and Intolerance
Any food allergy or intolerance will cause restrictive eating. I work with parents to find substitutes for any nutritional deficiency and foods lost. This is important for managing daily menus, play dates, parties and treats at school.