The secret to less picky eating
That’s a pretty bold statement.
But what if I told you that less picky eating is 100% available to you? That it’s doable. For every family. And that you don’t need to be stuck counting bites and worrying about how many foods your kiddo will or will not eat ? Would you be in?
Because.. that’s exactly what i’m telling you is possible.
Less picky eating – the simple way
...“I’m not eating that! You put veggies in it.“
…”I don’t like that green stuff!”
… “I hate peppers!”
Sound (exhaustingly) familiar?
And so the battle begins. “You will eat 4 bites.” And then you have to sit there for 25 minutes while you count the bites.
Yeah. That gets old. Fast. #just.eat.the.food
Or maybe, “You don’t get dessert until you’ve eaten 1/2″… Even though you have read so often that you could write the article, that ‘bribing with dessert only makes kids perfer sweets over healthy food’.
Then there’s the advice from a well meaning friend repeating in your head… “Just don’t give her any other options! She’s not going to starve.”…. but sending your kiddo to bed hungry doesn’t sit well with you.
So how do you get the veggies eaten without hiding them, bribing, or counting bites?
Ok. Let’s start with some truths.
- You have a great kid. Smart, friendly, likely silly at times, loveable…
- She (or he) is not out to make mealtime stressful on purpose.
- She also doesn’t actually have a universal dislike of veggies (although she might be pretty convincing that she does)
- You want the best for her.
- Developing great eating habits as a child will help her to be healthy as an adult, and it’s not something you’re willing to just have ‘happen eventually’.
… great habits learned as a child are an amazing gift for life. But she seems stubbornly certain that she’s having nothing to do with trying new foods.
And here’s why… Your picky eater wasn’t invited to join ‘the team’.
The kitchen feels a bit like a battle zone. Mom v.s. kiddos.
You need to get her onto the same team as you. Once you get a kid onboard with something, and the battle is 2/3 won.
So- Let yourself off the hook. Your job is not to ‘make’ your kiddo eat anything.
The secret to less picky eating is getting your child to choose to try foods herself.
Yes, this IS possible!
(And certainly less work than ongoing bite counting and veggie hiding).
Now, you aren’t completely off the hook.
I’m not saying you aren’t going to help to influence her decisions… yes- you are. But helping your child decide rather than deciding for her is where the magic happens. 🙂
Why bite counting fails.
Why? Why bother taking the time to help your child choose to eat on their own?
I’m going to pick on bite counting for a second. Sometimes counting bites works in the moment. The cauliflower is eaten. Nutrition into stomach. Life goes on… until the next meal when the bite counting has to start all over again!
It’s like trying to paint living room walls navy blue (because that’s the shade you want them to be!) before the foundation of the house is up.
**Sally walks up to her house being built with a can of blue paint.**
Builder: “Hey Sally! What’s the paint for?”
Sally: “The living room walls. They’re going to look amazing with this navy blue… I’m doing that very first.”
Builder: “uh.. The basement has to be finished before we even start the living room, Sally. Your living room walls are still in a pile of wood over there…”
Sally: “No problem! I’ll just go stand them up and paint them blue.”
Ok. It’s a little far fetched, but this same idea applies to getting our kids to eat more variety.
We want them eating what we make. Preferably something nutritious because it’s good for their growing bodies and brains. And.. what mom doesn’t want that happening TODAY? Which is why it’s frustrating when they refuse to even try the food!
Like the house with navy blue walls, the place your attention has to begin is at the foundation. That way, once more variety is being eaten, it happens without a battle every meal, & it brings peace of mind, knowing that your kiddo has developed habits that will serve her for her lifetime.
This is why getting kids choosing healthy foods for themselves (with your influence) is key to less picky eating.
The VERY BEST PART is that you can start this process without your child on board at all. So if you live with the king or queen of picky eating, that’s okay.
I go more into depth in this approach in my free course, Ditch Picky Eating – Foundations. There are 5 lessons, with the focus on getting lasting results with less picky eaters.
How to get kids choosing new & healthy foods for themselves
There are many ways to stack the odds in your favour when you’re working towards less stressful mealtimes.
Tip 1: Keep the end goal of having kids who will try new foods themselves without a battle in mind.
Making decisions through this lens will make it possible to ignore the cauliflower sitting sadly on the plate if necessary, and focus on the habits being taught instead.
Tip 2: Make healthy food normal & create a positive environment around adventurous eating.
Healthy eating shouldn’t be something that happens occasionally.
Please keep in mind that everyone has their own starting point, so resist comparing your family’s journey to anyone else’ kitchen.
That being said, it has to become normal to your kiddos to see veggies in their food. Or beside their food. Or under their food for that matter.
So climb into your ‘strong mom’ pants and serve the veggies even if you fear a meltdown from your kiddo. And then do it again. And again. #youcandoit
Tip 3: Teach the WHY of healthy eating in a way young kids can understand.
Rather than simply telling kids that certain foods are good for them, look for ways to make it memorable and fun. My favourite way to teach is through kids stories. Use their crazy imaginations to your advantage 🙂
Tell them about the mighty army inside of them that keeps them strong, but needs ‘fighter foods’ to do this. Or for young kids, make sure they know that lions *love* to eat everything and it helps them run like the wind!
- For another example, see my picky eaters ‘healthy mail’ storybook kit ‘Flint the Dragon Learns To Fly . Teaching with stories, like happens in this kit has been extremely helpful here, and it’s been great to get feedback from parents whose kids have also been enjoying learning about adventurous eating through this story kit!
Lastly, I encourage you to worry less about how many bites of cauliflower are being eaten today, and watch instead for the small lasting wins to start adding up.
Are your kids eating more new foods than they used to?
Are fruits and veggies being added to more meals and snacks?
Has your child chosen to add something healthy to his plate by himself?
We all know that sooner or later our kids will grow up & begin to decide what to eat without our ‘wise’ counsel.
Getting them choosing new & healthy foods for themselves is an awesome gift to give them. And the peaceful meal times aren’t so bad either. 🙂
If you want more ideas and guidance in making this happen in your own home, so that you can stop counting bites and feeling like mealtimes are the most stressful part of your day, welcome to join my free course for moms, Ditch Picky Eating- Foundations.
Your turn! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
More in the picky eater series:
Part 3: Current post