If you have a picky eater, this easy hack is a game changer

Two years ago I was really worrying about one of my children that had turned into a pretty picky eater. Actually, it was consuming me and my thoughts on a daily basis. It was frustrating and stressful always worrying about the foods he was not getting into his body. I worried about how often my lil one was going number two. I worried that he had not eaten one fruit or veggie in a month. I worried that we were down to very few foods. I worried because he was grumpy most afternoons (I knew this was from not eating most of his lunch)… and the list continues. I have a feeling you know exactly how I feel.

As a feeding therapist this was really hard for me to go through. I was in homes everyday helping other parents feed their children so why was I not doing what I knew to do or what I thought I knew to do? Maybe life got in the way? Maybe because I got in the same rut that you got into? It’s easy to do and before you know it you are in the thick of it trying to find the other side. The children I see are babies and more medically complex so my experience at the time with picky eaters was way more limited than it is now. So fast forward, I called my OT friend who specializes in picky eaters. I took her course for picky eaters and our world changed. I started doing what she said and also incorporated food chaining, a technique I learned years ago as a feeding therapist.

Food chaining is when you take a preferred food that your child is eating and you build off of it. It’s thinking about categories of foods (think protein/carbs/veggies/fruits/etc), textures, flavors, consistencies, etc that your child currently eats and find other foods that have similar qualities and build off of each food. It works y’all! It really does but it takes time. It isn’t on your timeline, it’s on your child’s timeline. Them learning to trust, feel comfortable around mealtimes and new foods, feeling like the pressure is off and it’s their choice to try a food when they are ready. Anyway, I’m getting on my soapbox and I’ll save more of this for another post.

Back to food chaining. Recently my son tried carrot cake and loved it so I expanded and made some carrot cake muffins. Do you see how I took the item he enjoyed (carrot cake) and just made the same recipe but in a different form?  It was a hit and you can do this too. Food chaining has helped us move from eating only grilled chicken to my son just trying his first Chick Fil A nugget this year and loving it. We have gone from a specific type of waffle to different types and flavors of waffles, pancakes, muffins, etc. Breakfast is a whole new world when you have different options to choose from. Thank you lord!

Here is a recipe that I love for carrot cake muffins. I’m also adding pictures of food chaining maps I’ve done in the past. I want you to know that I’ve been there and in a way I’m still there some days. The worry is real; the guilt is real; the love for your child is like no other; and I’m here to share what I’ve learned along the way to pay it forward.

Please leave a comment if you have tried food chaining and please share your ideas! It could make such a difference for another parent out there!

❤️ Lindsay

Carrot Cake Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 carrots)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup natural unsweetened apple sauce (I used dairy free yogurt)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Unsweetened plant milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (optional- did not use)
1/2 cup raisins (optional- did not use)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease cupcake muffin pan.
Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients (except milk) in separate bowl. Slowly pour milk and dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in coconut flakes and raisins if using. Pour into greased muffin pan (I sprayed cupcake pan with EVOO instead of using cupcake liners).

Recipe credit: Ambitious Kitchen