How you are making feeding your kids harder than it needs to be? One of the key things I work on with parents in my 1:1 nutrition consults is how they are overcomplicating mealtimes. Mealtimes don’t need to be complicated, they don’t need to be stressful. But with everyone giving there 2 sense on how to feed your kids it does quickly become complicated. So today I wanted to show you easy ways to simplify your mealtimes so they can be calm and successful!
1. You are giving them too much choice
But Shelley, I thought you said it was important to give kids choice around their food. Yes it is important and this empowers them to make decisions around food and get in tune with what their body wants and needs. BUT giving them a free for all to choose what they want to eat is way to overwhelming. Instead give them a choice between two things: eg do you want carrot or cucumber sticks with your snack today?
2. You have become a short order cook
I get it, its frustrating when you cook a meal for the whole family and one kid doesn’t like pasta or broccoli, another has decided they don’t like chicken that day. So you find yourself making something different for everyone. But when you do this, not only is it more stressful and time consuming for you, it sets an expectation that they get to decide what gets served up to them and can demand the foods they want. But if they don’t eat what you serve you don’t need to make something special for them. Remember: you decide what to serve, they decide what to eat (of what is served!).
3. You are serving up too much variety
Variety is important in your kids diet – Definitely. BUT to much at a single mealtime can create overwhelm for your kids. Keep mealtimes a calmer experience by keeping your kids comfortable and willing to engage with the foods on their plate. It is best to aim for no more than 5 different foods on their plate with only 1-2 of those foods being a new food!
4. You are setting your expectations to high
This can be a hard pill to swallow but as with a lot of things in life we set the expectations of mealtimes really high, and when they don’t go exactly how we planned out in our heads it leads to disappointment and feelings of failure. But mealtimes are just about consuming food as it is for adults, mealtimes for kids are a classroom, they are a learning experience. So we can’t go in expecting them to try everything on their plate. Instead go in expecting them to engage with foods on their plate, and if this leads to them trying it that’s just another win!
5. You are asking them to try foods at mealtimes
Pressure alert!!! So many parents tell me they don’t pressure their kids to try anything but then tell me they just ask them to try something. Sadly this is one in the same at mealtimes with your kids. It’s frustrating, but asking your child to try something, so matter how calming you ask, or how little you expect them to actually like it and eat the whole thing – is still pressure in their eyes. Instead at mealtimes change the conversation away from what you are actually eating either by talking about your day, or encouraging them to engage with the food through touch and smell!
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