“Ok hunny, I’ll pop some chicken nuggets in the toaster for you,” said none of our great-grandparents ever.
Don’t you think some of the troubles little ones have with eating and mealtime are really due to society’s recent trend towards using processed foods? The convenience of popping some chicken nuggets in the microwave or grabbing some crackers for the toddler is a relatively new reality. And no parent wants to see their child go hungry, so it’s no wonder our children demand an alternative to lentil stew. We give in because we can. There are easy alternatives calling from the kitchen “hellooooo…anyone want some crackers?”
But, by giving in and allowing these alternatives, we’re creating picky eaters that are on a path towards leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
So, how, you ask, do you avoid the tears at mealtime? How do you navigate the refusal to try a bite of green beans?
A wildly popular post by Leigh Anderson details a method that I have found to be tried and true. And the funny thing is, I’m pretty sure that a few generations ago, this was the norm. Here are the basics of it:
Make Normal Meals
So, first step is that you don’t make any specialty meals for the kids. Make one thing for the whole family. Bam, that’s it. Ensure that there’s something everyone will eat. So, add a side of bread or applesauce if you’re unsure whether or not your kids will want to eat the main dish.
Then, everyone enjoys the meal together. This way children can observe Mom and Dad eating all that
weird green stuff vegetables.
Everyone Eats What They Want
No forcing bites, no airplane spoon feeding. Your children can eat what they want. If they don’t eat much, good luck until the next snack or meal. Everyone can eat as much as they want, or nothing at all. If your child only wants to eat the side of bread, let them.
Basically, you decide when, what and where your children will eat and they get to decide if they eat and how much.
And that’s it!
I can’t help but think that this used to be the reality in most families. There were no easy alternatives available, so kids ate what was there. Now, there may have been a lot of old-school “five more bites” and “think of the starving children” that wasn’t so healthy. The idea isn’t to force your child to ignore their body, tastes and sense of how full they are. On the contrary, we should encourage our children to be sensitive to their bodies.
We must also provide a basis of healthy eating, teaching our children about healthy diets and getting them used to a variety of foods. This can only happen with experience.
So, shut away your cupboards of easy prepared meals. No crackers instead of supper. It’s time for a mealtime makeover that will reduce your stress and teach your children how to eat.