How to know if your child is a ‘food jagger’ and how to stop it

Mums and dads are likely to have experienced ‘food jaggers’ at some point in their lives – but what exactly does it mean?

Food jagging is basically a term used for pickers eaters or when a child wants to eat the same dish, prepared the same way, every day.

Sometimes kids ask for the exact same food for every single meal.

But when a child ‘jags’ on a particular food, it is likely that they will eventually tire of it.

They then may completely eliminate it entirely from their diet.

Although eliminating some foods from a diet is not worth significant concern, it can be slightly problematic if a child is allowed to food jag for an extended period of time.

This is because this will significantly limit the amount of foods in their diet.

Sometimes food jaggers ask for the exact same food for every meal

 

Unlike jagging, some kids go through phases of picky eating, which is usually part of normal development.

Youngsters who are picky eaters may tire of favourite foods for a few weeks.

However once around two to three weeks have passed, picky eaters will add that food back into their diet instead of eliminating the food entirely.

For those experiencing this issue, parents should first determine what kind of fussy eater their child is.

Usually there are two types, the first being normal fussy eaters who will eat up to 30 different food items.

There are also extreme picky eaters who will only eat 10 to 15 different items and sometimes as few as three to five foods.

Picky eaters may tire of favourite foods for a few weeks

 

Parents with kids that match the latter should seek the advice of a feeding expert.

However for the former, there are a few techniques that may help with the less extreme type of food jagger.

Mummy Pages reports that this type of behaviour is quite common for children, particularly from the age of two-years-old and above.

This may be down to the toddler’s rate of growth slowing down and they no longer need all the fuel they previously did.

So it makes it easier for them to reject food.

Children like familiarity and routine so can get into the habit of only eating certain foods and recoil from trying new foods.

It may also be that toddlers are trying to assert some control.

Food jagging is basically a term used for pickers eaters

 

Here are some simple tips from Mummy Pages to help with a child who is food jagging.

  • Take their favourite food, such as toast, and change it, bit by bit. This could be toasting it for longer, cutting it in a different way, or using different bread.
  • Although it is common to change dinners every day, the same is not always the same for lunches, breakfast and snacks. Mummy Pages recommends the rotation rule where toast cannot be eaten for more than one or two days in a row. Instead, parents should add the likes of cereal, or eggs on the third day, promising the return of toast on day five. 
  • Get them involved in food shopping to offer a sense of control by allowing children to select the bread they want from two different options.
  • Add a new food to their familiar, favourite food (eg. use different spreads on toast such as a different brand of peanut butter, chia seed jam, cheese, a thin spread of avocado).
  • Get them cooking as research shows involving children in meal preparation has effects on subsequent intake.



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