When I first started researching fussy eating some 15 years ago, I came across the ‘Frenchest’ of dietitians! Ellyn Satter is ‘the’ reference for anyone working in the field of fussy eating. She has devised DOR, a feeding model, that works. I call her the Frenchest of American dietitians, because if she were to analyse the way families deal with feeding in France, maybe she has, she would find that her feeding model is applied by all, without them knowing it at all!
DOR, is simple to apply, all you need to get started are a few keywords:
The responsibility is shared between you and your children: you decide what you will serve, where and when. They decide if and how much they will eat.
The reason it works is that with such a structure, there is no pressure.
There are no rewards, no nagging, no encouragements. There are neither positive nor negative comments on what, and how much is eaten. Your child can then thrive and be in tune with their hunger and satiety.
It’s interesting to me that Anglo-Saxons seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to applying DOR, it simply is not part of our culture to impose the same meals for everyone in the family and us mums often found themselves doing short-order cooking to satisfy everyone! The French have a huge advantage dealing with fussy eaters: they don’t have to over-analyse it: the family and the school cantine just take care of it very simply: the food is the same for all, you can eat it if you wish! You may be asked to try it, but you are never forced and because everyone around eats in this manner, including other children, children just learn to do the same.
There is no doubt in my mind that food refusal is one of the most challenging issues to deal with at home, particularly at dinner time, when everyone is tired. I always tell the story of how my own kids went through a stage where both of them would wind each other up at dinner time, making me feel anxious about their growth, their health, their development. But then I would take them to France, they would sit down for leisurely lunches or dinners with the family and I would not hear a thing, not a word of complaint! They would behave, I am not sure what they ate, but that did not matter in the long scheme of things. Ô the relief! Battle-free meals, stress-free meals, were right there, and all we did was put conviviality, and DOR at the centre of the table, so easy. Try it for yourself, it works!
If you struggle to work it out. If your kids have meltdowns at mealtimes, then it may be time to get help.