So you have looked at the Division of Responsibility and you are even trying it with your kiddies... You are feeding your children predictably (every 2-3 hours), at the table with all electronics off/toys and homework away; you are choosing what they should eat; and you are allowing them to decide if they will eat and how much they will eat. That is a great start to helping your children become competent eaters!
Now, let’s discuss the Top 5 Questions I typically get asked by parents.
1. How do I deal with my picky eater? It is always frustrating feeding a family when you have one child who likes one food and another child who hates that food. And of course, there are you as the parents who have preferences, likes and dislikes as well! The secret is to make sure that there is AT LEAST ONE FOOD on the table that everyone will eat. It might be bread, or a fruit, or rice or chicken or yogurt, etc. (So, you know no one will starve!). Now, put all the food you are going to offer on the table, and let your child(ren) eat as much or as little of WHAT IS ON THE TABLE. Your child may only eat rice for that meal. That is ok.
2. How do I introduce new foods? It can take UP TO 20 TIMES of introducing a new food before a child (of any age) will eat it. Never force a child to eat a food. And never, absolutely never, force food into a child’s mouth. This will cause a very negative association with that food specifically, or food in general - something you don’t want to have to deal with. (Seriously, you don’t want that). Focus on regularly exposing your child to this new food (e.g. fish) – they will smell it, see it, see others eating it. You might put it on their plate and ask them to put it back if they don’t want it - leading them to touch it. By exposure and using their senses, they will usually warm up to new foods. The best way to introduce a new food is to pair it with a familiar (and well liked) food; and remember, regular exposure.
3. How do I deal with “Eew. I don’t want ____. I want _____.” ? The short answer? Don’t cater to it. Avoid making special meals for someone in the family (this does not include allergies, although trying to get the whole family to eat the same food is very beneficial). When your little one throws a tantrum because he doesn’t want fish, he wants Mac and Cheese – fight the urge to give in. This is a great opportunity to teach your child that mom or dad (or whoever) worked very hard to provide that meal, and that your child needs to be thankful for what he was offered. Tell him that he may eat as much or as little as he would like from what is offered but nothing different will be made for him.
4. How do we handle DESSERT at a meal? If you want to offer dessert at a meal, ensure that each person gets only 1 piece. Allow each person to eat their piece whenever they want during the meal. They do not need to finish their plate to eat dessert. (this would go against the division of responsibility).
5. How do we handle less healthy food at snack time? If you choose to offer a less healthy food for a snack (e.g. cookies or cake or chips), allow your child to eat as much as she wants (or is available), at the table with no distractions/TV/games/homework. She will eat until she is satisfied and then get bored and want to go play. As soon as she is done eating and leaves the table the food/junk food goes away.
Final thoughts.... • NEVER USE FOOD AS BRIBERY. This just teaches children that there is good food (junk) and bad food (vegetables). This will not work in the long run, and can cause more issues down the road. • Make meal times a happy time where you talk to your kids and find out about their day’s experiences. Not where you are fighting with them to finish their plates. • Be good role model. Kids are smart. “Monkey see, Monkey do”. If you make vegetables for the kids and then eat junk food, they will eventually follow suit. If you are eating well, they will want to eat well too.
Eliana is available for in-person dietary consultations or Skype consultations. Come meet Eliana & hear her speak about Starting Solids & Baby-Led Feeding on May 3rd at 10am. A few spots are still available in this workshop. Please Register Online or contact us via phone: 416.972.9367 or email: email@example.com