Eating well can be challenging so here are some tips from our website to help you get your kids to eat better. For more tips visit us at www.aacfamilywellness.com or send me an email.
1. Make it fun. Here are some ideas: a smiley face on oatmeal with raisins and nuts; sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter; anything that contains their name (ever try to write your child’s name with string beans?), a flower out of apple slices… really the possibilities are endless. Once I sliced a banana into coins and arranged them around a plate with a big strawberry in the middle. It didn’t represent anything but it was fun to eat!
2. Try not to engage in a power struggle. When they say “I’m NOT going to eat this” in attempt to get a rise out of you, say, “OK!” with a big smile. Nine times out of ten, they will eat it a few minutes later, because they realize you really don’t care if they eat it or not (well, YOU DO, but they don’t know that!).
3. Resist the temptation to reinforce the notion that vegetables taste bad but they have to be eaten. As hard as it is, try to treat all food relatively the same (except of course for special occasional treats like candy). That way, if you put all healthy foods in front of your child, they will pick and choose based on color, flavor, texture, and desire for variety — not what is “good” or “bad.”
4. Never use food as a reward. There are books written about this, but I’ll try to sum it up with three points: one, using food as a reward ties behavior in with foods, which might lead kids to all sorts of parental manipulation using food. Two, if reward foods are a special kind of food, then non-reward food might feel like a punishment. Three, if reward foods are associated with parental pride and acceptance, then those foods might be later abused as a way for the child to feel accepted and loved.