Find out how you can avoid mealtime battles for picky eaters!
Younger children are notorious picky eaters. Many children – especially toddlers – only eat what they want and refuse to try anything unfamiliar, especially vegetables and fruits. Don’t be intimated or overwhelmed by these schemes, dear parents. It is time to be change tactics and avoid mealtime battles with your little picky eater forever!
Mix it up
Toddlers are picky eaters. It is in their nature to avoid food items that are new to them. Don’t let this act get you down and continue to serve food items with varying colors, textures and tastes. Consistent introduction of new food ensures that your child won’t be stuck eating limited food types even when older. Also, do not hesitate to reintroduce food items that your child had previously declined. He/she might like it this time around if served in a different manner. To avoid menu planning hassles, stick to local but healthy produce that are cheap, in season and readily available.
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Involve your child in food preparation
Asking your child to help you in the preparation of food may seem like a recipe for disaster but it is actually one way to avoid mealtime battles. Studies show that the more involved children are in preparing food, the more likely they are going to eat it. So, allow your picky eater to decide on what food to serve by giving him/her a list of possible (healthy) meal choices. Also, assign a task that is easy for your child to perform like tearing up lettuce leaves, washing the vegetables or fruits or beating the eggs. Don’t worry about the mess your child makes as long as the prepared food is eaten.
Get your picky eaters involved in cooking – they’re more likely to eat what they helped make!
Desserts are not rewards
Bribing your picky eater with desserts in exchange for a few bites of vegetables or fish isn’t a way to avoid mealtime battles. Doing this encourages the notion that healthy food is a form of punishment while the dessert is a reward. If your child wants to eat dessert, allow it without any arguments. Just make sure that you will be serving healthy desserts like cut-up fruit, fruit salad, homemade smoothies or fruit popsicles. Save the indulgent desserts like cakes or ice cream for the weekends or special occasions.
Does your child go on a hunger strike during meal times? Don’t worry – he will eat when he’s hungry!
To avoid mealtime battles with your children, don’t give in when they decide to have a hunger strike. If your child doesn’t like the food and chooses not to eat, don’t scold or offer different food. This is a power struggle that most parents lose because they always let their child win. Instead, store your child’s food in the fridge and reheat it later if hunger complaints are heard. If your child is really hungry, he/she will have no choice but to eat it.
Enough is enough
If your child only had three bites and wants to stop eating, don’t force one more bite. Allow your child to eat as much or as little without interfering. Listening to your child’s cues will not only avoid mealtime battles but it will also prevent overeating and binging possibilities later in life. If you are concerned about eating disorders, ask your pediatrician for some advice.
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How did you manage to avoid mealtime battles with your children? We’d love to hear from you.