The 3 E's to Better Eating!
If your child is showing signs of picky eating and you are feeling frustrated at mealtime and at a loss of what to do next, the 3 E's may be a simple strategy that you can use.
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. It's a simple and effective strategy that can be fun to implement while alleviating a lot of pressure for the both parent and picky eater in question.
So what are the 3 E's of eating?
Nutrition science research suggests that it can take children up to 15 exposures of a given food before they may try it or begin to like it. You may be surprised to learn that exposure, means just that - anytime a child is being exposed to the food. They don't have to eat it!
An exposure might be looking at a food in the serving dish, listening to a parent talk about eating it, helping prepare the food, feeling the food or having a lick of the food. Exposing children to a variety of foods, leads to familiarity and a willingness to then try that food.
Children learn about things in their world by exploring them in a variety of ways. Getting children's senses involved when it comes to picky eating is integral in relieving any food anxiety that they may be experiencing. Kids explore items with their hands, fingers and their mouth, so encourage them become little 'food explorers'. Spend time in kitchen together playing with food (it’s alright to get messy- that’s how we learn)!
Once your child is comfortable with concept of food exploration and has started to make some stride with their food repertoire, expand their opportunities for exposure beyond your typical family meals. Visit your local restaurant and try something new together. This can be a great way for your family to model adventurous eating and allows opportunity to talk about this "new" food. How does it taste, feel, smell? Sweet, spicy, salty, sour, crunchy, soft, mushy, hot, warm, cold, etc....
As Mallory Hawley from LLA therapy says, "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!"