Do you have a child or children who are picky, refuse to eat or make the dinner table into an excellent episode for reality TV?
Having worked as a nanny, camp counselor, day care teacher and elementary school teacher, I have been there! Here are some tips to make eating a more pleasurable experience for everyone involved.
Choice: Kids are not able to make many choices during the day, so “give them some power!” The results might astound you. I’m not saying let them eat Lucky Charms or Go-gurt every day, every meal but I am saying that you should give them some choices. At the end of this post, if you’re interested in my “Power Tool”, just sign up for my newsletter by Friday, June 20th at 5 PM and I will email it to you for FREE!
Baby Steps: Do not try to change their entire diet at one time. Pick one meal or snacks. Enact that one change for a week or two before moving on to another meal. Within two months, your child will be eating healthier foods all day long!
Offer: Offer new foods but don’t force a child to try anything. As a matter of fact, at the beginning just putting the food on the table where the child can see it and see you and any other adult eat it is ideal. Eventually, you can put a very small amount on the child’s plate and suggest they taste it or try it but don’t require bites or any of that. I like to make a side dish that I know the child will eat and then make another side dish that is new. For example, my kids love carrots with ranch dressing so I offered that but then also made a coleslaw-type salad such as the one in the photo.
The psychology: The reason that you don’t want to insist on a child eating something is that it then becomes a control issue. Control issues related to food can lead to unhealthy eating patterns later in life such as binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, etc. Kids want to be in control at all times and we do not want food to become a battle zone! Pick you battles and please keep them as from meal time as possible.
Bad vs. good: Please do not label foods as “good” or “bad.” This can lead to guilt shame and obsessive behaviors later in life. All foods are acceptable in moderation. Kids should eat whole foods. Try to stay away from labels that use these types of words: “lite”, “sugar free”, “diet”, “25% fewer calories”, “25% less sugar.” The reason that I say this is that artificial sweeteners and chemically derived fats are less healthy than the natural counterparts. If you need to sweeten something, use Stevia, pure organic maple syrup or organic sugars when cooking. When you are not cooking local, raw honey is best. When you need oils or butter-type products, use sesame oil, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, organic butter made from raw milk. Finally, when a recipe calls for milk, use organic milk (preferably from a local source and raw) if your family can consume dairy. If you need to use a dairy-free option, coconut milk is the ideal choice because it has more vitamins and minerals than almond or soy milks. Always use unsweetened coconut, almond or soy milk. Your child does not need the extra sugar.
Reasonable: I too have a grocery budget. I will never ask you to purchase entirely organic because, let’s be realistic, most of us can’t afford to live that way when we have children at home. I will help you get the most for every dollar that you spend!
Support: I am here to support you. If you have a picky eater, or two or three and need more support than this post offers, please check out my website: Organics With Emily
Your first chat with me is FREE. We can put our heads together and come up with a plan that is best for your family.
Photo credit: http://rebeccakatz.com/recipe-box/