ausEE Inc.

a charity dedicated to improving lives affected by an eosinophilic disease

Mealtime Tips

It is not uncommon for mealtimes to be difficult for families living with an EGID/EoE. Symptoms experienced may include feeding difficulty (such as needing to puree foods, being slow to chew foods, avoidance of certain foods), poor appetite and dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing foods and/or requiring a drink after eating). With the assistance of your doctor and dietitian you will hopefully be able to determine what the best foods are for your child to be eating or if any diet restrictions are needed. You can also talk to your medical professional about a referral to a good speech pathologist or occupational therapist to help with the feeding and swallowing issues.

The following are some tips for mealtimes from parents of children with an EGID/EoE that may hopefully make mealtimes a more pleasant experience for everyone at the table!

  • Make the food on the plate interesting – turn your food into works of art! Smiley faces, boats, houses, animals – the possibilities are endless! There are some great products available from Happy Tummies and Lime Tree Kids that can help make food extra special.

  • Write the names of food on the dinner plate on pieces of small paper and put in a hat. Have your child draw a name out of the hat and then take a bite of that piece of food.

  • Serve frequent small meals instead of three larger meals during the course of the day.

  • Try giving them their food earlier so they can get a head start before the rest of the family sits down to start a meal.

  • Put small amounts of food around the table in a clock face shape, place a butter knife or straw in the middle like the clock hand and give it a spin, where it lands, your child gets to eat that piece of food. Works best with small things like peas, carrot pieces etc.

  • Read a picture book during mealtime, after each mouthful is finished the child can turn the page. Look for books especially written to read at mealtimes like Big Mouth book.

  • Melissa Kent has written the book Broccoli Trees? Yes Please! to take the stress out of meal times with fussy eaters and replace it with some light hearted fun and humour!

  • Playing your child's favourite music in the background, watching a movie or TV may help them find mealtimes more enjoyable if they find eating distressing which can be stressful for the whole family.

  • Give your child a blank piece of paper and a stamp at mealtime – after every mouthful they get to stamp the page. Also works well with stickers or for older kids writing a tally mark!

  • Write activities down on small bits of paper ie. hop on one leg, meow like a cat and hide them under the plate, under food in cupcake papers or put in a bowl for the child to select like a lucky dip one of the activities. They get to do an activity for each mouthful or chosen portion of food.

  • Turn your dining room into a restaurant for the night – have theme meals, type or write out a menu - get the kids to help you of course!

  • Let your kid’s help choose the meal and they can also help cook it!

  • Use a ‘tolerance plate’ at the dinner table. Give your child a second plate and if they have new foods they are hesitant about trying, or foods they don’t like but are safe to eat then they can put that food on the extra plate if they don’t want to eat it but they will begin to tolerate having the food next to them during the meal. One day they might surprise you and give it a go!

  • Get your child interested in food – even if at first it doesn’t involve eating the food. Talk about food, watch movies about food and cooking tv shows, touch food, smell food, play with food. Take slow steps to work up to eating the food.

  • Use a reward chart process – and the reward doesn’t have to involve food (ie. dessert) it can be family time, a special outing, a small toy, book etc. There are heaps of reward chart ideas on the internet, your child can make their own, you can use a wall calendar or diary, or even something different like a pasta jar reward system - every meal earns a piece of dry pasta in the jar – if the jar is full by the end of the week the child earns their reward.

  • If your child currently has no safe foods - ask your specialist if they can nibble on a bit of salt, sugar or crushed ice so they can still participate in family meal times. These kids may also benefit from having a chew ring necklace like those available from SenseAbilities.

  • Check out the book SENSE-ational Mealtimes ; Fussy/Picky Eating and Tricky Mealtime Behaviour by Gillian Griffiths and Denise Stapleton. This book helps the reader make SENSE of tricky mealtime behaviour, fussy/picky eating and feeding difficulties. Available online here

Got a tip you would like to share? Please Contact Us so we can include it on this page to help other parents.


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Unless stated otherwise, advice offered on this page is from the Principal Author, who is non-medically qualified, however the medical content on this site has been reviewed for accuracy by our Medical Advisory Board.

Page last modified: 28 May, 2018