Did you know that there are 3 Es in eating? If you have a picky eater or a child struggling with feeding difficulty, you may be all too familiar.
Speech-Language Pathologist and feeding specialist, Melanie Potock, lays out the “three Es of eating” as a basis for helping even the pickiest of eaters succeed.
If your child is struggling with feeding, the “three E’s of eating” is a simple and effective strategy for parents looking to tackle this tricky issue.
Expose your child to a variety of foods, especially those enjoyed by other family members at the dinner table. Even as adults, it is more difficult for us to try a food we have never been exposed to before. Even if your child has a preferred food at dinner adding even 1 tablespoon of another food to their plate with no expectations of trying can make a huge difference. Exposing kids to a variety of foods can build familiarity which can lead to more willingness with trying new foods.
Children learn about new things by exploring them in a variety of ways. Kids explore items with their hands, fingers and their mouth. Even when they are not ready to explore a new food with their mouth they can help prepare their brains by exploring it with their fingers and hands. You can help your child become what Melanie calls a “food explorer” by getting in the kitchen (get your child involved with the cooking- even a young child can cut cheese with a child-safe knife), explaining how spending time in the kitchen together can benefit the entire family (i.e., better overall health, better communication), and playing with food (it’s alright to get messy- that’s how we learn)!
Once your child begins to explore new foods expand their opportunities beyond the typical family meal. Some ways to do this are to visit fish markets, farmer’s markets or other unique shopping experiences, go to a cultural celebration (i.e., Irish-American Festival) or trying a new appetizer at a restaurant. Use this time to model adventurous eating. Sample a new food or spice and talk about it. Remember it is ok to not like a food. A great phrase to use is “I don’t care for this yet. I need to keep practicing.
Children make the most strides in feeding when the family is an active participant. Even if a child isn’t ready to bite, swallow or chew a new food the three Es can benefit your child. Encourage your child to be a “food explorer” and learn about new foods even when not eating!