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The Dreaded “Milk Junkie”

When my son was a toddler, I used to call him a “milk junkie.”  He honestly used to drive me crazy by following me around the house, saying, “Meelk, meelk.”

The problem was that he hardly ate anything all day. I would put him in his highchair and offer him a few choices I knew he should enjoy. He would eat one, maybe two, bites – if I was lucky – and then want to get down, only to restart the endless requests for “meelk, meelk.” It was truly the biggest parenting challenge I’ve had to date.

So what can you do if you’ve got a “milk junkie?”

First of all, the biggest hurdle to ending this dependence is you! Tell me if any of this sounds familiar…

You wake up and tell yourself that you are NOT going to give your child any milk today. If he is thirsty you will offer him water and that is it. You know deep down that he will not let himself starve and he will eat eventually when he is hungry enough.

But… as the day wears on, you start to add up what he has actually put in his mouth. It’s been two grapes, one bite of toast, and five fishy crackers. Your resolve starts to crack. You start to worry, and think to yourself, well at least a bottle of milk has calories, fat, and nutrients – and before you know it, you are handing over a nice full bottle of milk.

So here is the short version of what you should do…

Stop giving him that bottle of milk. It’s hard, I know! I’ve been there, remember? However, I did eventually learn that this behavior had to stop, or I would never see my son develop a healthy relationship with food. Here are a few key things I learned:

  1. While milk has lots of good nutrients, drinking too much can actually cause deficiencies of other important vitamins and minerals your child would be getting from other food.
  2. Too much juice, or even milk, from bottles can cause tooth decay in your child’s developing teeth, especially if he’s taking bottles to bed.
  3. Although 100% fruit juice is much healthier than sugary beverages like punch and juice cocktails, it’s actually much healthier to just serve fresh fruit to your child. Even pure, unsweetened juice is still very high in natural sugars.

I also learned that I needed to put some trust in my son. To trust that his little body was actually smart enough to take care of itself, and that he would not actually starve to death (even though some days it really seemed like he might).

One of my favorite stories my mom tells is about my sister and her juice dependency. She loved apple juice so much, she practically lived off the stuff. She drank so much of it that her four front teeth actually started to rot. One day she was wringing her hands at the doctor’s office, telling him how my sister only drank apple juice, how her teeth were rotting, and how worried my mom was about her. When she was done, the doctor just stared at her and finally said, “Who keeps buying the damn juice?”

Touché. Lessoned learned. She went home, dumped out all the apple juice and never bought another container of it again!

Find out more about how to deal with your own milk or juice junkie in The Food Sense Program; a program offering solutions for issues with fussy eaters!

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