There’s only one thing I know that compares to the feelings of frustration and powerlessness parents experience when their kids won’t sleep, and that’s when they won’t eat.
Or maybe they’ll eat, provided they’re given exactly what they want, which usually involves those trademark “beige foods” like chicken nuggets, goldfish crackers, toaster waffles, and a variety of similar high-carb, low nutrition options.
What I discovered after a lot of trial and error with my first-born was that there’s a pretty effective way to get your kids to eat nutritious foods provided you understand a little about why they’re so reluctant to try them in the first place, and have a low-pressure approach to introducing them.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this simple but effective strategy in this week’s video.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Today I have a little bit of a confession to make. When my first son was a toddler, he was what I would consider the worst eater that I’d ever met. He had about three foods that he liked to eat, Cheerios, baked beans and tomato soup and I had those on a rotation all day every day because if I didn’t, I was so concerned that he would starve to death and he was a small boy so that just added to my anxiety.
That was probably my biggest parenting challenge to date. It wasn’t until I started putting some steps in place to figure out how to solve this problem, enlisted the help of a nutritionist and also talked to my son’s pediatrician and I can remember the day I was sitting in her office and I was talking about his eating habits and I told her the three things that he would only eat and she looked at me and she was a straight shooter. She called it like it was and she looked at me and said, Dana, that’s not healthy and that was a little light bulb moment for me because I was so worried that he wouldn’t eat that I was catering to a two year old. I was giving a two year old what he wanted and he doesn’t know what’s healthy for him.
That’s my job to figure out, right? Eating baked beans three times a day is just not a healthy diet and so I just wanna talk a little bit about that today. If you find yourself catering to a child who only has about three or five things that they will eat, I want to encourage you to press pause on that. I want you to give it some careful thought because all foods are not created the same, are they, and we just have to look around and see a little bit of an epidemic we have on our hands with unhealthy children and kinda shining the light back on ourselves the same way I did that day where I thought, you know what, I need to make some changes here, I really need to figure out how to repair the relationship my son has with food because we were in a bad place and one of the key points and I would encourage you to pick up the Food Sense Program if you’re struggling like I was.
One of the key points that I learned as I embarked on this journey about teaching my son healthy eating habits was that really there are two sets of rules here. One are his rules. He gets to decide what goes into his mouth and how much, okay? That is his job. My job as his parent is to decide what the food is and when. Those are my only two jobs. I need to plan out his mealtime appropriately and just as a little aside toddler tummies are tiny so they need refueling about every two hours and if they get too hungry, they’ll often eat even less ’cause they just don’t know how to handle those big hungry feelings but it’s my job to decide what he eats and when and so what I started to do is give him choice, very small limited choices where for breakfast, for example, I might put out some toast with peanut butter and some fruit and maybe a few pieces of cheese and that’s it, that’s my job, that’s my whole job.
I’m backing off at that point and I’m allowing him to decide what and how much is going to go in his mouth and I’m not gonna push him or pressure him. I’m just gonna let him make the choices and I won’t sugarcoat this. This was a long road for us because the damage was so deep. I’d done so many things to fracture his relationship with food that it took us a couple of years to get back to a place where he was making good choices, he was eating a variety of things in his diet and I would say now he is a 16 year old and he’s a very healthy eater for the most part and all of my children, I’ve followed a similar path with my other two as well because it is our job and I just wanna really hammer this point home.
It’s our job to teach our children how to become healthy eaters and it’s our job to make sure that their diet is varied and healthy and appropriate and that we’re not just stuffing Goldfish crackers into their mouth because we feel better that at least it’s something, right, and I’ve been there so I’m not passing judgment. I’m just encouraging you to start taking a better look at it and seeing how can I without a lot of pressure encourage my children to eat a better, more varied diet and it takes time so be patient. Don’t put pressure on. It’s gonna take a lot of exposures like it might even take 17 to 20 exposures the science is telling us of keep seeing the food and seeing the food and seeing it before they’ll even taste it.
So don’t give up hope, be patient and start helping your child develop a fabulous relationship with food.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
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