One of the most frequent comments we hear at AllStride is that parents find it hard to figure out what their kids will and won’t eat, especially within a weight loss regimen. This is understandable as introducing a healthier way of eating. It may also introduce new foods to your child and ones that they may already have preconceived notions about e.g. “broccoli is yucky” or “I don’t like green foods.”
Where do you think they may have gotten these ideas? School, television and media or perhaps echoing your own food likes and dislikes? Whatever the reasons, it’s so important to remember that a health and weight loss regimen is more about re-educating your family about how food affects the body and mind and learning new health skills and less about satisfying an immediate craving. That means, as a parent, re-educating yourself. Here are some staff tips for handling “picky eater syndrome” we hope you will find insightful and helpful.
1. Respect your child’s palate and in turn, the whole family (including kids) respects family meal choices. That’s the deal.
In other words, if there is a food that your child really doesn’t like, say milk, for example, there’s no need to force feed this option. In fact, doing that could reinforce an even stronger negative attitude towards that particular food. Instead, research other calcium rich options and replace. Dark greens and broccoli, nuts, salmon and yogurt are all calcium rich and easily worked into a diet. Check out this surprising list of non-dairy, calcium-rich foods from Huffington Post’s Healthy Living section.
2. Dinner Table Huddle. Pick a time to pick your meals, together.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all a little guilty of “checking out” after work or after practice. Most of us come home, grab something to eat that’s convenient and then retreat to the computer or TV in our individual bubbles. Time to pop those bubbles.
I know it may sound incredulous, but there are so many studies, and our own Dr. John has written about this, too, but families who actually eat together are less likely to be overweight or obese. Why? Because the act of eating becomes a shared activity where everyone has some responsibility. When you eat alone in front a screen, time sort of evaporates and you don’t know how much you’ve eaten or how fast.
“Have you ever thought your child may be a picky eater because you haven’t exposed them to a bigger variety of foods? It could be that you and your family are in a food rut.”
Pick a time each and every week to decide what the family dinners will be and what time you will agree to all have dinner together. Instead of saying, “What do you want to eat this week?,” which opens up so many cans of worms, why don’t you approach dinner choices with your kids like this:
“I want you to imagine the best, most yummy salad you can think of and what vegetables we can put in there together. Let’s make that together for dinner.”
“We’re going to try something new every week! Let’s find a vegetable we’ve never had or don’t eat very often and come up with something! So you do some research and I will, too!”
“This week, I am picking the proteins (chicken, fish, etc.) and you pick the healthy sides (salad, vegetables).”
“We’re having “everything in the pot” night and making soup. Everyone pick a favorite healthy ingredient and let’s see what happens!”
We know this takes time and planning, but ask yourself…how much do you want your family to be healthy and happy? What are you willing to do? Either way, spending this time together as a family is a win-win situation, whether you are a family of 6 or family of two.
We’d love to hear what you come up with and how these suggestions have affected your family, as well as your success stories.
The AllStride Team