We all recognize the importance of a healthy diet, especially when it comes to our little ones. But convincing them to eat foods that are good for them is often a struggle, and when dinnertime becomes a nightly battle, it can often cause your child to develop a negative association with food.
In today’s video, I’ll give you some tips to help you understand the psychology behind your child’s apprehension over new foods, give you some tips to help encourage them, and bring peace and harmony back to your dinner table.
I get a lot of complaints from parents about their children not eating well. And I get it. I have been there people. My first son, if you don’t know the story already, was a terrible, terrible eater. He was the pickiest child I think I have ever met to date. So I get the struggle and I understand the frustration because I’ve been there.
But I’m going to give you some tips today that will help minimize your frustration and allow your child to develop a healthy relationship with food. Which ultimately I think we can all agree is our goal here right? Not necessarily you eat as much as I think you should eat when I say you should eat and what I think you should eat but more about teaching children how to regulate feelings of being hungry and full and understanding what foods they like and what foods they don’t like and just developing a natural love for food that’s healthy. That’s what we want for all of our kids.
So the first thing, the very very first thing you need to do is stop the pressure. The worst thing you can do if you’ve got a child who’s not eating well is to lay on lots of pressure. For some kids, most kids, putting pressure on them makes them pull back even harder. Begging them, bribing them, threatening them, forcing them even, is all counterproductive. It’s going to increase the chances that they develop an unhealthy relationship with food and it often makes them eat even less because now it’s a battle of wills. And we know toddlers. They’re very strong willed. So, that won’t work.
So what do you do instead? Alright, here’s the big lesson to learn and it was a lesson I had to learn. It is my job as this child’s parent to plan what the choices are and when the choices arrive. That is it. When and what.
So we know that toddler’s tummies are really small and they can only last about two hours without some sort of snack or meal. So keeping that in mind I planned my day around every two hours I would offer my son either a meal or a snack. So, breakfast. Two hours later, a snack. Then two hours later, lunch. And so on all throughout the day. So that is me deciding when. And keeping in mind I don’t want him to get too hungry. Often when toddlers become too hungry they refuse food. Which seems weird I know. But it’s true. They do. They refuse food because it’s gone too far and now they’re hungry and they’re most likely starting to beg for milk ’cause that’s the fastest way to get some calories into the system.
So, once you’ve got the when you decide on the what. So I suggest that you give your child about three choices. Three to four choices at every snack and meal. So maybe at breakfast you put out some peanut butter toast, some slices of banana, and maybe a couple of squares of cheese. And that’s what’s for breakfast.
If he eats all of the toast and none of the banana or some of the cheese it doesn’t matter because that’s not my job. His job is if he eats and how much. That is his job. If he eats nothing I’m not gonna panic. ‘Cause I know in two hours I’m gonna offer him another opportunity to eat. I will promise you that a toddler will not starve themselves. Okay? I know it feels like they’re going to. I get it. But they’re not going to.
So if he decides to walk away from his breakfast with nothing, well I’m gonna remind him okay nothing more now until snack. Then I do not give in on that. I don’t give in to any begging for crackers. I don’t let him have any extra milk. It’s two hours until the next meal. At the next meal, again, I offer my three or four choices. I sit back and I wait and see. If he eats some, great. If he eats none again, I’m okay with that. Right? I’m okay with that. I remind him that it’s going to be two more hours until supper or next snack.
And here’s the good news. The more you do this the more the child will begin to look internally. Look inside. Body scan. How hungry am I? Am I gonna make it two more hours before I have any kind of food? And they will. I promise you they will start to think it through a little bit. And they might eat all of the grapes and ask for more grapes. That is fine. I’m gonna offer more grapes. I’m not gonna say you can’t have more grapes unless you eat the toast. That is up to him.
I cannot put that pressure, my thoughts on what he should be eating onto him because again, that is most likely gonna make him back off, push his food away and want to get down. Now I also believe that it’s important to have a designated spot for meals and snack. It’s tempting to kind of set out snacks all throughout the house and sort of let your toddler wander around having a little bit here and a little bit there. But that’s not ideal because it’s never really gonna get him full and it’s never really going to make him hungry enough. So he’s kind of grazing all day long. And it’ll feel like he didn’t really eat anything. But really he probably did eat quite a bit. He just grazed his way through the day.
So in a high chair, here’s your meal, here’s your snack, this is what’s happening. If you’re out and about, make sure you go to some sort of area where you can sit down. You can look at the options, you can give him a choice whether he’s going to have some or not. If you can do it with him, Mommy’s snack time now too and Mommy’s meal too, the more he sees you eating the better that’s gonna work for both of you really and he’ll learn through your modeling as well.
Alright so I know this is a huge topic. It’s really hard to cover it all in just few minutes. Check out The Food Sense Program if you want a little more detailed plan on how to get your picky eater to eat or to end the battles, more importantly, around food.
Thanks for watching today. Sleep well.
If you’re having issues with your child’s eating habits, whether they’re not eating enough healthy food, have no interest in trying new things, or are engaging in a battle of wills every time you sit down to the dinner table, try The Food Sense Program™. It’s a complete system designed to end the mealtime headaches, get your child eating healthy, and develop a positive relationship with food!