Do you have picky eaters in your family? Here are four simple strategies to help your children eat well and enjoy their food.
#1. Lead by example
In recent safe food research, 7 out of 10 parents said they know their own eating habits have a huge influence on their children’s likes and dislikes. Yet in the same research only 1 in 10 of us parents suggested changing our own eating habits to help our children. My clients tell me often that they have to cook two and three meals to accommodate the fussy eaters in their family. This is madness! Good food, especially vegetables, can be transformed into delicious fare that children will love. Just experiment, be adventurous yourself, and your children will follow. Children take their cues from their parents, so if you eat it, they will too!
#2. Make mealtime a time of pleasure and enjoyment
Mealtime should be a time where the family comes together and enjoys eating. There should be no distractions, so turn off the television and put the phones away! Encourage your children to be involved in the cooking process, discuss what you’re eating, where it’s from and how it’s made. This is an opportunity to educate your children about what they are eating and why they are eating it.
Also encourage your children to taste their food and discuss the flavours, what they like about it. Mealtime is also an opportunity to communicate with your children, discuss the day’s events, find out whats going on in your children’s lives. Children will enjoy mealtime more if they feel they have their parents attention. This can be positive or negative attention, so make sure its the former by being interested in whats going on in their world- this is the perfect opportunity!
#3. Do not force your children to eat, if they are hungry they will eat
This is something we can learn from. Typically toddlers have not yet developed an emotional relationship with food. They aren’t concerned with eating too much, or too little. They just eat what they want and if their mommy lets them, they stop when they are full. They don’t care about the conventions of meal time and return to eat when they feel hungry again. Left to their own devices, toddlers and children eat slowly, chewing and enjoying their food. They reach for and seek what they want and eat until they feel satiated.
#4. Let toddlers and children choose what they want to eat
Children have a naturally inquisitive and almost instinctual palette. As proven by a 1939 study in which a group of toddlers were put in charge of feeding themselves. They were offered 34 nutritionally diverse whole foods, including water, potatoes, beef, bone jelly, carrots, chicken, grains, bananas and milk. What each child ate, and how much, was entirely up to him or her.
The results were astonishing. Instead of binging on the sweetest foods, the toddlers were drawn to the foods that best nourished them. They ate more protein during growth spurts and more carbs and fat during periods of peak activity.
After an outbreak of mononucleosis, curiously, they consumed more raw beef, carrots and beets. One child with a severe vitamin D deficiency even drank cod liver oil of his own volition until he was cured. By the end of the experiment, one doctor was so impressed with the toddlers’ health that he described them as “the finest group of specimens” he’d ever seen in their age group. Incredible, isn’t it?
So I want to leave you with a thought today. The only thing that limits us is our thoughts. We think that our little ones won’t eat this or that, but remember these four rules and you will find that your children will adapt as you approach eating well in a more relaxed way focusing on pleasure and enjoyment. Let go of old limiting beliefs and throw out the rule book. Let’s celebrate with delicious nourishing whole food that the entire family can enjoy, get inspiration here.
If you’d like to know more about how I can help you, then contact me here.