Part 3: How to win the battle with your picky eater

We’re rounding out this 3 part series with some of my absolute favorite tips for getting your child to eat whole foods. If you’re a parent, you’ve likely struggled with this issue in your own home. Hopefully the tips I’ve given in the previous posts have been helpful reminders for you to continue to push for clean eating in the home. The benefits are many. Let’s finish up with tips 4 & 5.

Tip #4: Create Themed Nights

There’s something magical and fun about creating meal theme nights in your home. Kids get really excited and look forward to dinnertime. They may even go as far as to invite all the neighbor kids over to your place for dinner. The idea for themed dinner nights comes from Liz Edmunds who wrote the cook book “The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner”. It’s a fabulous cookbook to own, and you can get it HERE. Themed dinner nights will look something like this: Monday – Comfort Food Night (you can make this healthy 😉), Tuesday – Italian Night, Wednesday – Fish & Meatless, Thursday – Mexican Night, Friday – Pizza Night, Saturday – Grill Night, Sunday – Family Traditions (think pot roast). Get yourself a chalkboard menu and get in the habit of filling it out weekly after creating your meal plan for the week.

In addition to themed dinner nights, get your kids helping in the kitchen more. There are so many tasks younger and older kids can handle. For example: Chop veggies, peel veggies, crack eggs, stir & mix, put cut up veggies in a pan or pot, set the table, clear the table, wipe the table, help with the dishes, flip food with spatula, use tongs to plate foods. They’ll likely need help with sharp and hot objects.

Does Threatening & Bribing Work?

The short answer is YES. Kids need to taste something 20 times before they actually like it, but you should never force them to do it. Forcing anyone to do anything against their will isn’t a good thing and can lead to more problems down the road. Here’s what I have implemented to get my kids to eat cleaner foods.

For each task accomplished, my kids get 5 minutes of electronic time, or time with friends. They must 1. Eat the lunch I pack them, 2. Clean their bedrooms and make their beds, 3. Clean their Zones, 4. Walk home nicely together from school, 5. Ask me if there is anything else they can help me with, 6. Drink their smoothie and take a vitamin, 7. Move a bit faster in the mornings, 8. Read 10 -20 minutes

I am always going for a Win Win. They feel happy and accomplished, and I feel the same. Your relationship with your kids will grow stronger as you implement a system that works for both of you. Figuring that out for your own family might take some time.

Tip #5: Don’t make special or separate meals of “Kid food”

You’ve prepared a nice dinner for the whole family to enjoy, but your toddler won’t eat it. Now what? You have a choice. You can either go to the kitchen and whip her up something you know she’ll eat (mac n cheese, quesadilla, etc..) OR you can train your child to eat what the family is eating. In our home, the children have to take one or two “no thank-you bites” just to try it out. My husband and I even sit next to the child who is being stubborn (Jojo) and cheer her on. Sometimes we set a timer and see how many bites she can get in. If it’s a fun game for her, she’s likely to eat it, even if she doesn’t like it. In short, don’t become the diner in your house. You are not a short order cook. It’s a lot of work to run a household this way just to please everyone. You’re not doing them any favors as they head into adulthood by feeding them whatever they want. I promise.

Lastly…Just Breathe

There’s no sense in beating yourself up or giving yourself a guilt trip if your child still won’t eat picky foods. Don’t make yourself the victim in the story you might be telling yourself in your head…”I knew this wouldn’t work for my child”. – I want you to feel happy and at ease knowing you did absolutely everything you could to nourish your child through clean healthy foods. The choice is up to them as they get older, if indeed they’ll actually eat clean. When they come back to you with a hurt tummy, or acne, or mood swings and tantrums, be quick to remind them that eating healthy, clean foods like lots of vegetables can help heal their gut and reduce the inflammation in their body. You’ll be a wealth of knowledge for them, but do keep in mind all of us were given agency in this life. Each choice we make will have a consequence. Personally, my kids aren’t perfect eaters. They find lots of ways to get sugar when they want it. But I sleep easy at night knowing I’ve done my part as the best parent I know how to be.

If you or someone in your family is struggling with picky eating, let’s jump on a quick 30 min call together. I can help you with some ideas to implement right away, and you can see if coaching might be a good fit for you.

Schedule your call with me HERE

Listen to this Podcast Episode below:

Good luck to you and your family!

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