Friday, February 3, 2012

picky eater?

As a parent, one of my major concerns is making sure my children are getting enough to eat and eating health food. For the last couple of years, I have struggled to find a balance between being an over-protective momma bear and allowing my children to tell me their needs when it comes to food.

There have been many days when my daughter has said "no mommy, I am not hungry," "I don't want to eat," and "I am full." My first instinct as a parent is to bribe or force her into eating something, anything. The hubby and I have learned that taking that approach only creates an environment of frustration and anxiety and not to mention our kitchen floor usually ends up covered in unwanted food. We have tried several different approaches when dealing with food in our house. For the most part, our daughter is a wonderful eater. There are not too many things she will not eat or at least try. Time and time again, others often comment on what a great eater she is. I like to think the hubby and I had a little something to do with it.

Over the last several years, I have spent a lot of time surrounded by children and I have noticed the majority tend to be picky eaters. I have witnessed many breakdowns and arguments which, often times, the child wins. When it comes to parenting, there is no rule book, but it is always nice to have network of people who are there to share their experiences. I have learned a lot from other parents, this is one of the reasons why I love sharing my experiences with all of you.

If you are dealing with a picky eater in your household or just starting solids with your little one, I know it can be a struggle. Here are a few things the hubby and I have tried and seems to work well for us:
  • Listen to your child - if your child isn't hungry then do not force them to eat. Allow your child to know that if they are hungry, they can independently ask you for food. It has taken us over a year to realize that if your child is hungry, they will eat.
  • Children like routine and structure - we try to serve snack and meals around the same time everyday. Preparing your child for what to expect helps to relieve any anxiety they may be having when it comes to mealtime.
  • Be patient - try not to get frustrated when your child does not want to try a new food, or if they try a food for the first time and tell you they do not like it. It may take several tries before they start to enjoy that food.
  • Promote independence when it comes to food - allow your child to pick out meals they like and add new food to the dish. Take your children to the grocery store to see where their food comes from and allow them to pick out foods they think they would like to try. Introduce your child to several different foods with an array of textures and flavours. Allow children to help prepare their meals. When your child takes part in making their meal, they have more desire to eat it.
  • Be creative - you have probably heard several times before "do not play with your food," and to some extent I agree, but sometimes allowing your child to use their imagination when it comes to mealtime can work in your favour. For example we like to make ants on a log - celery with peanut butter, and raisins on top. My daughter would not eat celery by itself but when you tell her it's ants on a log, she has no problem eating every last bite of it.
  • Cut out distractions - we do not eat with the television on. Electronics are very distracting and can trigger your child to focus on other things besides eating their meal.
  • We are not short-order cooks - there have been many nights when I cook a meal and Little Miss L. dislikes what I have made and refuses to eat it. As much as I want to jump up and make something I know she will like, I have to hold myself back. Instead we tell her she doesn't have to eat it but she needs to stay at the table during mealtime and once we are all finished she can leave the table as well. Once she has realized we are going to continue to eat, she usually does not want to feel left out and joins in.

There you have it folks. A few techniques we have tried with the Little Miss. If you seem to be in a rut, then give them a try and let me know if it made a difference for you. I would love to hear your feedback or if you have a great tip you would like to share because I know I am always looking for new ideas. Happy eating!
One way we know that we can pump our girl with fresh veggies and get away with it is when we make rice paper rolls.  It is the perfect dinner to get the whole family involved.
We love to trying out different options when making these. This night it was chicken, carrots, lettuce, rice, cucumbers, red peppers, radish, and peanut saute to dip.
Little Miss L. loves being hands-on. 
She is very precise in where she places her choice of toppings.
The finished product. She can't wait to dig in and taste her creation.
Someone is a little comedian, and no, we do not agree with placing food in your ears, nose etc.
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  1. Great read Shanna! We to have a picky eater! We have always strived to promote healthy eating and not making our children eat if they express they are not hungry. Somedays I believe they survive off of air! We keep an array of healthy snacks on hand and eat together every night to promote family time. Thanks for sharing your experiences as well.

  2. Thanks Linds!

    Yes, it is definitely hard sometimes to get your children interested in eating healthy options. I wholeheartedly agree that it is important that families take the time and eat together. Some of the most memorable conversations we have had as a family, happen around the dinner table.