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To be or not to be: a picky eater!
Lately, it seems like the topic of conversation around other moms, I've interacted with, tends to be around picky eating. I couldn't believe it when one mom admitted she was making three to five different meals a night. Say what?! Yes you did read that correctly! I did say that momma admitted making three to five different meals for supper a night. Now I don't know about you but there is NO way that I am making that many meals a day or even in a month.
I decided to do the math on that because I was curious to see how many meals that would total in a month and a year. If there are thirty days in a month and she is making 3 meals a day that easily equals 90 meals a month. Oh poor momma!! That's 60 meals too many! For an entire year that equals 1,080 meals give or take a few!! Exhausting?! Definitely!
Now, another momma admitted that she was making the same 5 meals for the past however many years because her oldest refused to eat anything, which had then rubbed off on the younger siblings. They could eat rice, some special type of chicken dish, spaghetti and apple sauce. In their desperation to try to get their little babes to eat they had even invented code words for different types of food because their littles wouldn't try it any other way.
My heart hurt for both these mommas because that just sounded exhausting and frustrating!
So what are these poor mommas to do?? Is all hope lost in ever eating a simple meal again?? Well keep reading friend because do I have the answers for you!!
Continue to offer foods your kids won't eat
Okay, I know that sounds counterintuitive (that's a fancy word for doing opposite of what you would think to do) but I promise it really isn't. I think we need to continue to allow our littles to understand that it is important to try and eat a variety of food. So when you continue to offer different food items on their plates allows your littles the opportunity to try it at their own pace. Big Girl seems to go through phases of what she thinks she does and doesn't like. When she was a baby it was avocado and now it is tuna. But both times I continued to offer it and she eventually tries it and comes around. She now asks for seconds with avocado. And as for the tuna I saw her sneak an extra bite in when I wasn't looking yesterday so I know she's coming around.
Avoid power struggles
I know you probably grew up in a very similar household as mine where your parents would guilt you into finishing your entire plate due to those poor dying kids in Africa. "You know there's kids in Africa that don't have much to eat, so you should finish your food so we aren't wasting it!" "Those kids in Africa would love to have this meal to eat!! So why don't you send it to them to eat?! Is what I would think as I would begrudgingly finish the rest of my plate. I also loathed the just five more bites gimmick.
To avoid having an unhealthy relationship with food for my girls I let them be done when they say they are done. If they haven't really touched their plate I do ask that they have at least one bite. They can then put it in the fridge and come back to it later. And you know what sometimes they do!! And sometimes they don't and that's okay!!
Set the example
If we want our littles to eat a variety of foods we must also be willing to do so! Due to my gluten intolerance a lot of times my mom would invent different meals so that I could eat foods that I used to eat. Instead of pizza we made corn tortilla pizzas or rice pizzas. Instead of pasta we had quinoa. That meant for my girls they are introduced to foods that may be different then what their peers might be having and that's okay. They are willing to try different foods when offered because we eat weird things already!
If you don't believe me come hang around with us when we open a can of black olives!! My girls pop those babies into their little mouths like candy!
In all seriousness though I feel like if we want our kids to stop being picky we need to step out and really provide a positive example as to trying to eat a variety of different foods that are different and good for us!
Don't offer them any!
If I am trying a new food for the first time I don't offer any to my kids. It sounds crazy but hear me out. Usually kids want what they can't have! So I'll make a big deal out about how delicious whatever I am eating is and most of the time my girls will ask for a bite. So I will give them some! More often than not the girls will ask for some and eagerly push their plates over for me to add some onto theirs!
Don't offer anything different!
Make up your meal plan and stick with it!! There is no reason why you need to cater to your small mini mes. They are able to eat what you have deemed good and the expectation is that they can take it or leave it.
Without getting into power struggles my girls can either eat what they are given or wait until the next meal. I refuse to make separate meals because I find it exhausting so my girls know that they can either eat what they have been offered or go hungry.
Limit the snacks and sweets
I think it is easy to go after the quick and easy unhealthy goodies and kids are quick to fill up on those before dinner. Or not eat their supper and then fill up on junk. So instead of filling your cupboards with that kind of stuff. Have fruit and veggie trays ready to offer when littles get hungry or peckish! It's a win win because the sugary treats aren't there to be a temptation for momma as well!
Trust yourself, because…
Really momma, it all comes down to us as the parent. When we set the example of having a healthy relationship we give our children that gift as well.
When it comes to meals we need to avoid the power struggles. Continue to offer foods that our littles haven't given a try yet. Crate a genuine interest and curiosity by playing up those yummy healthy foods we enjoy and stick to our meal plan! And don't worry momma your littles won't starve I promise! Cross my heart and hope to die! Stick a needle in my eye!! Kids will eat when they are hungry so if they don't try it stick it in the fridge and they can have it when they are hungry.
Taking picky out of picky eaters doesn't have to be complicated! Keep it simple and have fun! And if worse comes to worst you can always rename the food something fun! Carrots aren't carrots they're Olaf noses!!
Because oh puh-lease!! You've got this momma!!