As a mother of 11 children, you can imagine that I’ve heard just about every excuse for not eating new or healthy food! I’ve had many moms come to me in exasperation saying, I need help for my picky eaters.
As with all parenting, we must remember that we can’t dismiss the relationship aspect in this challenge. We must approach this issue in an attitude of love and support. Here are a few other tips that can be helpful.
Help for Picky Eaters
1. When serving the meal consider the size of your plates and the portions you’re serving. Did you use age-appropriate portions or did you use adult portions? In our culture today, many of us have lost the perspective of what a serving or portion is. It’s not uncommon for our portions to actually be two and three times more than they should. We can teach good eating habits when we become aware of the servings on our own plates and start dishing up the proper portions.
2. When offering a new food to the family, consider the natural tendency to reject anything new. To prevent this obstinacy, talk about trying this food out at least two weeks in advance. Have the child help you find recipes for the new ingredient (use the internet for photos that make the dish look inviting). Have the child help in the kitchen as you cook. Finally, don’t neglect these moments to share memories of your personal experience trying new foods.
3. Don’t insist that they “eat it all” all of the time. I’ve found there are times that I require my children to “eat all” of something, however, most of the time I give my children choices. This is what you might hear at my table:
Child: “Mommy, do I have to eat my tomatoes?”
Mommy: “No, you don’t. However, if you don’t eat your tomatoes, you don’t eat again until dinner time. No snacks or treats.”
OR I might say,
“No, you don’t. How many do you think you could eat cheerfully? Let’s try to eat that many.”
OR I have often been heard saying,
“No, you don’t. However, if you don’t eat your tomatoes, you have to eat all your onions (or another food that has nutritional value).
Stop the Food Fight
Did you notice how I started each of my replies with, “No, you don’t”? Wording our replies wisely is vital. Make sure that your first response tells your child that you are there to help them make good choices. Quite often, when we speak carefully, we can avoid power struggles with our children.
Giving choices helps in those times when I say, “Yes. Today, Mommy wants you to eat all your tomatoes.” I’ve found that giving choices and making sure I keep a good healthy dose of flexibility, has proven very successful to overcome the “food fight” with my picky eaters. Of course, if I have a child being defiant, I will require they practice obedience. I do my best to make sure we avoid these challenges at the table. I’m confident that the table should be a place of trust, offering good growing experiences with fun conversation and happy memories.
I will choose to work on my child’s obedience in other areas so that food doesn’t become a fight.
Have these ideas been a helpful springboard? Do you have more ideas to offer? I am sure our readers would love to hear what works in your home as well!
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood