Picky Eaters: A Helpful Approach to Changing Bad Eating Habits
by Shelley McRae
My Goddaughter has been a picky eater since first being introduced to solids. To my frustration, I found that her parents saw no problem with her dislike of foods that would be beneficial to her health and growth. She gravitated to the foods that her parents enjoyed: frozen tv dinners. The healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish and rice were constantly refused. Macaroni & Cheese became her prime meal on a daily basis. I was annoyed by this, but I found it very difficult to break her out of these bad habits. After all, this is what she was used to! Her own parents approved of her meal choices, so who was I to step in and interfere?
While babysitting my Goddaughter and my 18 month old baby, I was amazed to see the variety of foods my baby was eating and the lack of variety in my Goddaughter’s meal selection. Cooking for her became such a task. I was forced to cook two separate meals: one for the picky eater and one for the proper eater. Not only was this time consuming, it was aggravating to me. I needed to find a solution fast! So I resorted to some trickery, which worked in my benefit.
The key came in the visual presentation of the foods I was serving. I noticed that my boring plates were lacking appeal. A plate of rice, chicken and vegetables was not as enticing as a pretty slice of pizza with pepperoni and cheese. So I would separate the servings and put a large portion of healthy food alongside a special treat in a smaller portion. A plate of rice and chicken now had now had yoghurt, fruit slices or a low fat pudding on the side to compliment it. That way eating the healthy food would result in the reward of a sweet yet healthy treat. Colorful & fun plates also become popular. Presenting colorful fruits and vegetables in different shapes and designs introduced a playful aspect to eating. Making mash potatoes look like clouds and an orange look like the sun made eating healthy and fun. Mission accomplished! Problem solved!
In conclusion, I firmly believe that young children should be introduced to a variety of foods, and should not be restricted to the foods their parents prefer. This can result in the child only eating what their parents eat, and can cause problems as the child grows older, as was the case in my situation. You, the parent may not like broccoli or carrots, but why restrict your child from eating these vegetables? It never hurts to try new things, and you’d be very surprised to see that your child may have a different reaction to these foods than you’d expect! The most important thing is the health of the child, and the introduction of healthy foods at an early age will most definitely benefit the child for the rest of their life.
About the Author
Shelley McRae is the Marketing/Office Manager of a courier company based out of Toronto, Canada. Shelley has a college diploma from the Sheridan College Institute of Advanced Learning in the field of Correctional Services (2003) and a BA in Sociology at York University (2006).
Please feel free to visit my website: http://www.babybesthouse.com
So You Have a Picky Eater? by Destry Maycock
If you have a picky eater, mealtime can make you feel like you want to pull your hair out. It is very frustrating for parents to watch their child only fiddle with their food at dinner or not even touch it, claiming they “don’t like it.” Then what happens? Thirty minutes later guess who is hungry? You guessed it. Your little picky eater.
Jamie’s mother was concerned about Jamie’s lack of interest in food. She stated, “Jamie never wants to eat anything I fix for dinner. What can I do to encourage Jamie to eat the meals that I have prepared?” I came up with the following ten tips for her. You may find them useful as well.
TIP: INVOLVE JAMIE. You could have Jamie help with planning the menu or meal preparation. Kids are less likely to “turn up their nose” at something, they had a hand in.
TIP: PLACE A LIMIT ON JAMIE. Perhaps Jamie is playing with her food at dinner and not real interested in eating it. Mom say’s, “Jamie, I will be serving breakfast at 7:00 a.m. try to eat enough to make it to then. You decide how much you will need. Oh! We will be clearing the table in _____ minutes.”
When Jamie comes to you later that evening complaining of being hungry. With an understanding tone, simply remind her that you will be serving breakfast at 7:00 a.m. as usual. Jamie will most likely be persistent about getting something else to eat. It is important that you follow through with the limit you have placed. Otherwise, Jamie learns that you do not mean what you say and you lose your credibility with her. You may have to tell her several times that you will be “serving breakfast at 7:00″ until she realizes that your are not going to give in.
Jamie: “Mom I’m hungry. Can I have some cookies?”
Mom: “Kids who eat all their dinner are welcome to have a snack after.”
Jamie: “But mom I’m really hungry.”
Mom: “I know Jamie. I would be hungry too if I ate as little as you did for dinner, but don’t worry I will be fixing a big breakfast at 7:00 a.m.”
Jamie: “What? Do you want me to starve?”
Mom: “I’ll be serving breakfast at 7:00 Jamie”
Jamie: “This isn’t fair.”
Mom: “I’ll be serving breakfast at 7:00 Jamie”
TIP: NOTICE THE EXCEPTIONS. Call attention to the times when Jamie eats most of her meal. “Wow! Jamie you ate everything on your plate. Good job. You should be proud of yourself.” Too often, we only notice the negative aspects of our children’s behavior and that is what we reinforce with our negative attention.
TIP: CATER TO JAMIE’S DESIRE TO BE “BIG”. ” You probably won’t like this halibut Jamie. Usually, adults are the only ones who like halibut.” Guess what may just become Jamie’s new favorite food?
TIP: PROVIDE VARIOUS CHOICES AROUND MEALTIME. “Would you rather sit by me or by mommy?” “You can eat with a fork or a spoon which would you prefer?” “Do you think you will need more potatoes or is that enough?” “Have as much as you think you will need to make it to dinner.” “Milk or juice?” “Should we eat at 7:00 or 7:30?”
TIP: BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL. “You know dear, although spaghetti is not my favorite, I will eat it because I know how hard you worked to make it.”
TIP: EXPOSURE. Encourage Jamie to try a variety of foods early on in her life before she knows any different. Some children may have never thought liver was gross if it hadn’t been for what someone else had set their expectation to be.
TIP: PROVIDE SOME FLEXIBILITY. Let’s remember there are some foods that certain children just can not stomach. If Jamie has a problem with spinach but it is part of that particular meal, try to have other items that she can get her fill up on once everyone has their share. However, this should be the exception rather than the rule.
Try letting Jamie dip her foods in sauces, dressings, syrups or ketchup. It may make them taste better to her.
TIP: MAKE MEALTIME ENJOYABLE. Try to talk about things other than eating at mealtime. Dinner is a great time to talk to Jamie about how her day went. During breakfast, you could discuss what everyone has planned for the day.
Everyone pitching in to help prepare the meal can teach Jamie an important family value. An added bonus for children is that it can teach them important thinking skills regarding timing, measuring, colors, comparisons, counting, and cause and effect.
Be creative in the ways that you dish up Jamie’s food. Mold her mashed potatoes into a volcano, cut her meat or sandwich into bite sized pieces and poke toothpicks in them, layout veggies in the shapes of letters or numbers, or use a drop or two of food coloring to make it more interesting.
TIP: LIMIT SNACKING. For children to be hungry enough to eat a meal they usually need to go two or three hours without food. However, it is difficult for children to go from noon to 6:00 p.m. without food. A nutritious snack after school should be fine to get Jamie to dinner still having her appetite.
TIP: RECALL PAST SUCCESSES. Think back about times when Jamie has ate her meals. What were you doing? Were you placing a lot of emphasis on her need to eat her food? What was she doing? What were you eating? What happened before the meal? These kinds of questions may help you realize some of the things you or Jamie is already doing which assist her in becoming a better eater.
About the Author
Destry Maycock has over eleven years experience working with children and families as a professional social worker. Destry has helped hundreds of parents solve various parenting challenges and strengthen their relationships with their children. Destry enjoys developing products that help parents.
To learn more visit: : http://www.parentingstore.com
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