mommy talk food my children

I have often been asked about how to make children eat.  It is amazing to find gazillion parents stressing over how to get their children to eat.  One day, as I was about to conduct a parenting seminar, my kids joined me in the car with their friends . I took the liberty of asking them what they think would make children like them want to eat. Their answers which were actually in statement and question form  should make us reveal what makes them become hearty eaters.  Here goes:

1.  We will eat when we are hungry–  Isn’t it a no brainer to know that eating is for those who are hungry?  Doesn’t it make sense to eat when we are hungry?  Parents however miss the point and force our children to eat even after having given them snacks or milk in between meals .  Even a regular adult will not have the desire to eat on a full stomach and yet we miss out on this basic principle as parents. What did I learn then?  Feed kids who are hungry.  What does that mean?  It means, no snacking in between meals and no giving milk before a meal.

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2.  We want to eat food that looks good–  The children shared that in television commercials and shows on t.v. , food is presented so beautifully.  When food is sloppily placed on the plate for them to eat, it is not appetising at all. Food styling appeals to them.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate but perhaps with a little effort in presentation, the little ones will appreciate the time put in it.

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3.  We have small tummies and can only finish small portions . The kids shared this-“Pls. stop feeding us food we can’t finish.” . The worse thing to say to a child according to the kids is to finish what is on their plates because there are many hungry children in the world. Their response to that is why not give the food to them?  Here is a guide as to how big a portion we must give to kids on their plates.  A better gauge would be to have them put the food themselves for them to eat.

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Photo credit to: http://pcdateam.org/nutrition/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Hands-On-Nutrition-For-Kids.jpg

4.  Why do we have to eat veggies when our parents don’t even eat them?  Here is when it becomes really personal, folks.  Our children know if we live what we preach.  I happen to be a vegetarian and never did I force my kids to eat veggies.  I just simply placed them in a bowl to munch on while they watch television or during long car rides.  Since they don’t have much of a choice and they are busy doing something else, they just munch away and then realise after that they have been eating veggies all along.  As a vegetarian, I don’t eat ampalaya and that is the only vegetable I will not eat. Why? It is because my memory of ampalaya is a slipper on our dining table that has the capacity to land on my tiny bottom if I don’t eat it. Yup, my grandmother will not allow us to stand from the table without having eaten our veggies and when ampalaya is served, it is a must we eat it.

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5.  Why can’t we have junk food like our parents?  I know of parents who hide all their junk food and sodas in their closet and sneak out of the room when the kids are asleep so they could enjoy their food. The kids know your secret.  They are smart and can tell if you are hiding anything so think about it.  If you don’t want your kids hiding anything from you, be transparent with them as well.

6.  What’s wrong with eating our food slowly so we could have a relaxing time? As a little girl, I remember being told not to take too much time eating my food and to hurry up a bit.  Then when I was older, my fitness trainer had to put a clock with a second hand on the table to train me to eat slowly so I could digest my food properly.  It took me three years to master eating slowly.  Why do we need to hurry kids?  Mostly it is for us to make our lives easier so we can pack up and then move on to our next task to do for the rest of the day.  It makes perfect sense for us to just let our children enjoy their meal and then they will have better appreciation for what they have been blessed with. Chill, relax and let them enjoy their meal.

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7.  It is more fun to eat with somebody.  When I ask my parent participants who eats with their children, normally the answer I get is that their children eat alone especially during daytime when working moms have to be at work.  The best companion that the children have been given is the television set.  I personally do not advise having the television set any where near the dining table even if the children will have to eat alone.  I highly recommend assigning someone to sit down and engage with the child so that eating does not create a sad memory about having meals alone.

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8.  Can we please help with the menu?  I actually challenged my children to sit down with our cook to plan our menu when they kept complaining about what we have been serving.  The result?  Pure bliss.  For as long as my children have servings of veggies in their meal, I welcome any suggestions they have to spice up our menu.  I even enjoy having them prepare meals for us as a family.  It makes our job easier and then the experience, unforgettable.

Would love to hear about your own thoughts on making a picky eater turn into a hearty eater. Happy eating!

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April 30, 2015 by Mommy Maricel

2 thoughts on “How to turn your picky eater to a hearty eater”

  1. Minnie Rakvaag says:

    Hi Maricel,

    I totally agree with all the points you raised in this post. We have a 2.5 year old boy and we make it a point to eat meals together because we noticed that we really do make good examples for them and it makes mealtimes much more delightful. And since my husband and I work full time, dinner is the only meal we can do it together. I make it a point to vary our weekly menu and so far the little boy has been loving each meal 🙂

    1. Mommy Maricel says:

      Awesome! Thank you for sharing, Minnie. 🙂

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