So the routines of school and after-school activities are set to return for most people this week.
The dreaded lunchboxes become a permanent morning feature and for many parents so does the dread of opening it in the afternoon to discover most of the contents have made it home safely :(
If you do have a selective eater then it's common to find that your lunchboxes are not touched unless stuffed with favourites. And often those favourites lead you down a slippery path of less and less variety and more and more packaged food.
My advice is to worry less about the lunchbox and more about the other meals. Yes, lunch is very important and is probably about one third of what children consume during the day. And yes not eating well during the day can affect concentration, energy levels and mood.
However, for selective eaters just eating away from home is often challenging. Throw in all those distractions like play and the negative aspects of negotiating food in front of others and it often becomes overwhelming. So what to do?
1. Attempt a sustaining and filling breakfast.
2. Think nutrient dense afternoon tea and dinner.
3. Send what your child is happy to eat but rotate so each day is slightly different (even if it's just flavours of yoghurt or popcorn v crackers for the very selective).
4. Create as many bite-sized options as possible. It's far easier to eat a tiny sandwich or muffin than something large that seems overwhelming.
5. Worry less about what's getting eaten so our children worry less too.
6. Serve some of what you want eaten - if we don't serve fruit our child doesn't have the opportunity to eat fruit (if this is distressing for a very selective eater then obviously do not).
7. Work on strategies that gradually give your child the confidence they need around food away from home.