A recent commenter asked how we managed to eat such a wide variety of foods in our diet without running into the picky eater demands…
It’s fairly easy.
“Here’s what we’re eating. Eat. Or don’t eat. It’ll be here when you’re hungry.”
We don’t play the game of demands.
There is one meal served, and it is eaten.
Granted, we used to play it. Often. And not well. Our oldest used to get all kinds of special treatment for his food wants.
But now that we have more children, more demands on our food budget, and less time for me to be in the kitchen,
Here’s how meals usually go:
We are seated at the table, grace is said.
Food is placed on plates – and I don’t load them up.
We start small. The general rule is 1 tablespoon of each food for every year of their age.
If they don’t like the food, they only have to finish what they have.
If they like it, they may have seconds of it after everything is eaten off their plate.
They don’t get anything else other than what is on the menu,
and they finish their plates before leaving the table.
We used to re-serve the food to them the next meal, but I wouldn’t want to eat cold food, and the goal is for my children to enjoy eating…
We switched to serving smaller portions, and they are required to finish.
If it turns into a battle, we serve smaller portions the next time, and work our way back up.
But that usually means smaller portions of something they like…
so they find that eating a few bites of something “icky” is worth it for more of my sweet potato fries. 🙂
I’ve found this is the best way to make sure they are getting “enough” of a good thing,
while not making every single bite a battle.
Not to mention, this also takes a LOT of waste out of the equation.
I’ve seen so many parents load the plates up, and then complain that their child “didn’t eat anything!”
There’s no reason we should expect toddlers to eat a full size, or even half of an adult sized portion. Tiny tummies make for tiny meals.
We utilize snack time in our house to help keep tummies from rumbling, as well as making sure to add more nutrition to their diet,
but our mealtimes truly are where children should be obtaining most of their food intake.
(Snacks are limited in their portion sizes, so it doesn’t stress their digestive system out, working all day.)
Our oldest son went a day and a half without eating anything, before he ate what was placed in front of him without complaint.
That’s 36 hours, in case you were wondering!
It’s very disconcerting as a parent to feel like you’re “starving” this baby (he was 2, not an infant… no worries)
who will somehow never be happy again if you don’t fix him
a peanut butter and honey sandwich
But here we are almost 3 years later, and he’s still thriving.
He still likes his peanut butter and honey sandwiches,
but he only gets them at Gramma and Papa’s house, thus avoiding the fight in the future.
Here are some other resources for helping your child eat well:
How to Get Your Kids to Eat Anything, from Cheeseslave’s blog – take a look at the comments, too. Lots of good stuff.
Healthy Foods to Tantalize Toddlers, from the Weston A. Price Foundation
How to Help Family Members Adapt to Real Food, from Passionate Homemaking
Taking the “ICKY” Out of Picky Eaters, from the Weston A. Price Foundation