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Five Ways to Help Your Kids Become Better Eaters

Dear friends,

Image result for free picture of family eating at dinner table

If you are getting into power struggles around food with your kids, think twice about this approach. Food equals nourishment so both the tone in which it is delivered as well as the food quality itself are equally important. If you find yourself hurrying your children to eat to get to the next activity such as a sport or music lesson, perhaps it’s time to focus on priorities and slow down. I’ll share what worked in our home.

These are five ways to help your child become a better eater:

  1. Go to a salad or hot bar such as at Whole Foods and allow your children to pick the food they want to eat. Encourage them to start with a favorite protein like chicken, or beef and then let them build from there. Try not to offer much direction. The point is to create this open space for joyful eating where the mother or father is not rushed! Allow them to take their time and eat what they want with no criticism. You can say something like ” let’s see what looks fun for dinner”. At home you get to prepare what you want but out to eat is their domain.
  2. Children are hungry when they get home from school. It’s Ok to give them a meal when they arrive. I would set up our center island with cut up fruit, maybe some mac and cheese or nachos with turkey, guacamole, salsa and fresh water or milk and a plate of favorite cookies. All their friends would come to our house because we always had REAL FOOD. this works well especially on nights when you have after-school activities.
  3. If your child likes ethnic foods like Chinese, Mexican or Indian find a healthy place you can all go to before or after a game or activity. This will minimize the rushing and they will look forward to their weekly outing. And please no ipads at the dinner table or tv!! The point is to be together, feel nourished by each others’ company and to create a somewhat sacred space.
  4. Invite your children to be part of the process of shopping and making food. We took our children to farmers markets and local farms so they could see where their food came from. I often see children in a shopping cart with Nintendo games, cell phones and other apparatus- far removed from the experience. Again, slow down and allow the experience to be pleasurable. Probably not a good idea to food shop after school or before bed when they are tired. Going back to what I’ve shared about daily rituals also applies to kids. You can’t expect them to do what you don’t do. I was watching a Mom shop and she was on her cell phone while her three kids were walking all over the place. She kept putting her phone down and saying ” come on guys, pay attention”. I smiled at her. I’m sure you’ve witnessed this kind of scenario
  5.  Don’t be a short order cook. If you are having hamburgers don’t make a special meal for your picky eater. There are many tricks to get nutrients into food; like smoothies, tomato sauces can be made with bell pepper and carrots( blended so it can’t be seen), macaroni can be made with broccoli or cauliflower. We always had a romaine salad with feta cheese at our table. Kids like greek salads generally. Focus on the idea that everyone is sitting down together rather than focusing on stressing out about the food. Start with a prayer or express gratitude to the farmers and the children will feel the tone. Feel the gratitude.

Food is God, Food is love, Food is healing. I think we’ve all become too mental about it, including me at times. So enjoy!

with fierce love,