This post was written by one of our volunteers, Larissa Stanley.
Over the last few posts we have been discussing how to navigate everyday eating situations using the principles of the Division of Responsibilities (DOR). If you haven’t read them yet I highly recommend having a look back here!
Today’s scenario is:
You have been struggling to get your 3-year-old to eat anything other than grilled cheese sandwiches. Most days it is easier to give him the sandwich than fight at every meal trying to get him to eat.
What do you do?
Although it might be difficult, try to remove the pressure and consider the DOR.
Remember that when feeding your child, as a parent you are responsible for WHAT, WHEN and WHERE. And your child is responsible for IF they eat and HOW MUCH.
It is very common for toddlers to get in “food jags” where they only want to eat one food. This can happen even if they previously were not picky! We will consider each area of the DOR and how it may be implemented in your household.
First off, the WHAT:
- Avoid Catering. Children are extremely intelligent. Your child will learn fast if they realize you will give them their grilled cheese if they reject anything else. Instead,
- Offer a variety of healthy food. It can take 10-15 exposures to new food before your child becomes comfortable with it. Even if you know they will not eat certain foods still offer it at meals. The more often they see and touch new food the more likely they are to try it.
- Use positive language. Refrain from commenting on how much or little your child eats at meals. This can cause stress for both you and your child! Instead, use positive language about the textures of food to encourage them to try new foods.
- “Yum, that carrot is so crunchy!” or “Wow, that strawberry is nice and juicy”
Then the WHEN:
- Have consistent meal and snack times. We discussed the importance of this in the first blog post.
- Eat food at the same spot. Whether a snack or meal, food should be served at the same spot without distractions.
Children typically outgrow “food jags”, such as only wanting grilled cheese sandwiches; however, they may remain picky. This is okay! To take the pressure off yourself, remember that your child is responsible for IF and HOW MUCH they eat. Using the DOR will help raise a child with a healthy and positive relationship with food. Picky or not, they should be able to choose from the food you have provided and feel comfortable when new food is put in front of them whether they choose to eat it or not.
If you would like assistance with implementing these principles with your picky eater or toddler in a “food jag” contact Calgary Family Nutrition today!