Did your child request the same food for dinner over and over again until one day he or she just stopped? It can be so confusing as to why a preferred food suddenly becomes a non-preferred food. It isn’t just “picky-eating.” This is a result of a “food jag”.
A food jag is when your child eats the same thing every night or even every meal. The reason we want to avoid food jagging is because eventually your child will get tired of the same food and begin to refuse the food. Imagine if you ate salad for dinner every single night. We would also get tired of eating the same food and it would become less and less appetizing. If your child gets tired of their preferred foods the number of different foods they are eating will eventually dwindle down.
So, what can be done to avoid food jagging? To avoid food jags, you can offer a preferred or requested food once a week or every other day depending on how many different foods your child will eat. Try not to have chicken nuggets for lunch every day. Change up what is offered during snack times too. It might be easier to just have goldfish or fruit snacks on hand but this won’t help a child who is food jagging. Switching up foods offered during mealtimes and snack times will help your picky eater learn to expand what they are eating and eventually consume a wider variety of foods.
We should also be modeling healthy meals ourselves. Children look up to the adults in their lives and follow their example. We should be sure to eat a variety of nutritious foods ourselves. It is important to offer these nutrient-dense foods to children who are refusing new foods in small portion sizes to not overwhelm them. This way we will be exposing them to new foods without the foods appearing to be too threatening.
If you have concerns about your child’s picky eating, refusal of whole food groups, or questions about feeding/eating and mealtimes, please contact one of our speech pathologists at T.E.A.M 4 Kids at the Avondale, Surprise, or Peoria Location. Give us a call at 1-800-376-3440.
Dana Messer M.S. CCC-SLP