Great article in The New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope titled, “6 Food Mistakes Parents Make.”
I’ve summarized all six and added a few of tidbits of my own that I learned (sometimes the hard way) while raising my own 2 children, now 17 and 18.
1. Booting kids out of the kitchen. Let kids help with meal prep in the kitchen. Studies show that this helps to get kids to try new foods and eat healthier food like whole grains and vegetables.
2. Pressuring them to eat. Don’t offer rewards or demand your child eats something. Make good food available and gently and calmly encourage your kids to try it…then back off.
3. Restricting them from eating certain foods. It’s human nature to want what we can’t have. Within reason, give kids a little taste of everything so they lose the temptation or think there’s something overly special about a sugar cookie.
4. Making a big deal when you’re on a “diet.” Instead of dieting in front of your children, eat healthfully and explain that you make choices to be optimally healthy which includes only eating what you need in order to avoid gaining weight since obesity is a risk factor in countless diseases and health conditions.
5. Making veggies taste boring. Even if you’re choosing to have steamed or roasted veggies, let your kids have a little cheese or butter on top. A little won’t hurt them and you’ll feel better knowing they’re getting important vitamins and minerals because they’re actually eating their veggies.
6. Giving up and thinking you just have picky kids. Taste buds change and what they wouldn’t eat at age four, they may love at age six. Keep gently trying and meet each refusal with calm understanding.
Now that my kids are sort of grown…I realize that even though my son ate next to nothing for many of his young years, today he is 6’1 and 170 lbs. As for my daughter, I realize that even though she rolled her eyes at all the “weird” and healthy food I ate, she now eats just like me…and I didn’t even have to tell her to!