Battling with your child over what and when they eat can be a frustrating ordeal. Trying to balance proper nutrition with food they’ll actually eat is a challenge for many parents. Today, I’ve got some tips to help you get your child to eat right without developing a negative attitude towards food.Rather read than watch? Click here.
If you want to check out more you’ll see it in The Food Sense Program. That is, basically, my journey to figuring out how to help my child have a good relationship with food. That’s really what it came down to for me was I didn’t want to get into a battle of wills every single mealtime. It didn’t matter how much I bribed this child or begged him he would just not eat. He was very strong willed and it didn’t matter if I was promising him a pony if he finished his dinner, he wasn’t going to. If he didn’t want to he wasn’t doing it. All day long we were butting heads around this and it was just driving me, I’m not kidding, was driving me crazy.
When I started to research and try to figure out a solution to this problem I started to realize that I wanted to set him up for a life of good relationship with food. You just have to look around in this society and see all the people who have a very bafd relationship with food and we’re using food for comfort, and we’re overeating, and we’re finishing our plates because we were told to. It’s leading to obesity and health problems. I didn’t want that for my son.
I’m going to give you here three things that I want you to focus on if you’ve got a child who doesn’t eat well.
Number one is, you have a job and your child has a job. Your job is to decide when your child will eat and what your child will eat. Okay, so you need to plan appropriate meal and snack times. Most toddlers need to eat every 2 hours or their blood sugar levels drop. What happens often when blood sugar levels drop too much a child gets cranky and they don’t want to eat, right. Keep an eye on the time. Every 2 hours we’re having a meal or we’re having a snack.
Then, you decide what this child will be eating. At every meal and snack it’s up to you. Do not ask a toddler what they want for lunch. That is not an appropriate question, because they don’t have the skills to really understand what would be a healthy lunch for me to have. You make that choice. Now, one thing to keep in mind, though, is to give some options, right. I like three, a rule of three. If it’s snack time there’s some grapes on the table, there might be some bread with peanut butter, and maybe a few slices of cheese. That’s the choice.
Then, your child’s job is to decide if and how much, right. He might look at these snack options and turn his nose away and say, “No, I don’t want any of these things.” Okay, then snack time is over and we proceed until the next meal or snack time. Okay, a lot of people give in or they become short-order cooks and they’re making all kinds of different choices for their children. No, your job is to decide when and what. His job is to decide if and how much. Okay. That’s going to really cut down on the confusion.
Now, he might not eat anything and that’s very hard for us mothers to deal with. We want our children to eat, but you have to get okay with the fact that on occasion he might not eat. That is his business. It is his business. If he doesn’t eat you might say, “Okay, there’s nothing more to lunch.” Now, he knows there’s nothing more to lunch and if he gets hungry then he will realize, “Hmm, I probably should have eaten some snack because I’m hungry now.” You want to set up some internal consequences for your child.
Another good thing to say is, “Oh, are you full?” Start talking about the idea of being full and being hungry so that they can start recognizing the signals that our bodies send us when we are hungry and the signals they send us when we’re full, so that they don’t become over eaters, they can internally monitor, “Hmm, yeah, actually I’m feeling full enough. I’m done for this meal.” Okay.
Choice is important, not more than three or they’ll get overwhelmed by it, and then take the pressure off. Now, it’s tempting, tempting, again I’ve been there, I know it, if your child’s sitting at snack time and he’s only had three bites of his toast and wants to get down from his highchair, it is tempting to start to bribe or negotiate, right. Well, eat three more bites or eat five more bites. What you’re doing there is you’re still saying, “It’s my decision how much food you eat, not yours,” right. I decide when you’re full. Do you? Does anyone decide when you’re full. It’s not really a thing that you can do for someone else. You’re going to have to hold your hand over your mouth or bite your tongue and just let it go. I promise you it will come with time. It will not be an overnight change, right, but it will come gradually with time if you take the pressure off of this and let them start making some choices on their own around food.
I have a 13 year old now, the same little guy that was a world’s worst eater and he is great eater and he has a really healthy relationship with food. Sure, he likes treats just like anybody but he really has come so far in his food challenges over the years. That’s a little bit of reassurance that if you do the work now it really will pay off.
Thanks so much for watching. Sleep well.
I created The Food Sense Program to help parents and children call a truce to meal time battles. If you’re frustrated with your child’s eating habits, now is the time to start making real changes.
My approach is a simple one: to empower children to lay the foundation for lifelong health by making healthy food choices. The good news is that once you’ve implemented this strategy, your child will embrace a newfound sense of responsibility, which will take the stress out of meal times and end the food fight forever.