The last few weeks have been particularly challenging for us here in our household. My lover of all foods has been a bit picky, eek! The son of a naturopath, picky? How dare he! I have been lucky thus far since I could pretty much make any food combination and he would eat it up as if I just made him the greatest meal ever. So I guess it’s about time I learned to get creative with my son’s cuisine.
It first started with breakfast, he wasn’t loving his oatmeal the way he once was. I understood this, who doesn’t like to shake it up a little bit? He deserves variety and options so I started mixing it up. If your child is anything like mine, they love whatever you love, they want to be just like you, so perhaps your meals are looking a little more enticing then theirs. This is true for my son, he LOVES whatever we love, if he can eat it off my plate then it is the coolest and most delicious thing he has ever tasted. He always comes back for more, with mouth wide open, so I knew this what I needed to cater to. I didn’t want to get distressed and start pressuring him to eat as this would eventually result in negative associations with meal time. I want to continue to nurture my son’s love for food so I have to help him along the way by making his food fun and interesting.
We love smoothies for breakfast and so does my son, so this is what he shall get! Since he is a smoothie loving man, I can add in my favourite healthy foods for him and not force him to eat… Perfection! Other options he loves to mix it up with are:
- Gluten free Pumpkin seed & blueberry muffins (I will post recipe soon)
- Scrambled or poached eggs
- Blender pancakes with apple butter
- Organic puffed corn or puffed brown rice (not cereal, just puffed grains) with goat or almond milk
More recently my son has decided that he does not want to eat the veggie and protein meals that I prepared for lunch and dinner and no convincing or tricking him with spoonfuls of apple sauce would satisfy him. He shakes his head wildly “No, no, no, no, NO!”. I had to think of something else. This past week I decided to make pureed soups for our lunches and I had a thought, if my son loves to drink smoothies then perhaps he would equally enjoy drinking his vegetable soups. Guess what? I was right, he loves drinking out of mason jars as much as I do. So not only should we try mixing up the types of food offered, but also mix it up by allowing your child to experience food in different ways. I put his lunch and dinner soups in mason jars and away we went, zero resistance at meal times!
Here are a few things to remember during these challenging times:
- Children go through different growth phases and they are not always going to have a huge appetite, try and allow them to eat when they are hungry and eat until satisfied. Do not force them to eat the same amount daily, their hunger will fluctuate and you need to allow them to learn to listen to their body’s signals.
- Try not to get discouraged by these phases because that is all they are, a phase. If they are having a picky week try and find ways to make food and meal time fun. Stay positive and focus on how you can foster healthy attitudes towards food and meal times.
- Get creative! Look at the things they do like, do they want to eat off your plate, are your foods more enticing? If so, give them the same sized plate or feed them what you are eating, try and find ways that excite them about food. Cut fruit into shapes, let them drink their soup, add fruit into their veggie purees.
- Dr. Sears stresses that parents should view a balanced diet by assessing their children’s weekly diet as opposed to daily, I think this makes a lot of sense and is more realistic.
Remember that this does not mean you now have a picky eater, try not to label them that way and try harder not to get distressed. Healthy living is about the journey not the destination and you will impress yourself with how inventive you can get when given the challenge. I know because I impresesd myself with my ability to think outside the box when given the opportunity. To be honest, I felt those feeling of panic and thought “oh great now I have a picky eater”, but I caught myself and I changed my reaction. I knew I could do better and be a good example for my child on how to cope with change. I know you are capable of doing the same.
I would love to hear what you have done to help your child love food and eating. Please share your ideas we can all learn from each other and feel less stressed as a result.
Dr. Michelle Peris is a Naturopathic Doctor whose goal is to inspire health through educating, motivating and empowering people. She has a family based practice out of a clinic in Oakville, Ontario.
Contact Dr. Michelle today to book your 15 minute complimentary consult.