Lots of parents struggle with a picky eater in the family. And God bless the parents who have multiple connoisseurs. Teaching and training their little palettes can be challenging sometimes! I understand!
Today I am going to tell you a few simple tricks that will hopefully stop mommy from becoming a short order cook and expand your little darling’s menu.
First, let me state emphatically that this is what works FOR ME. If you’re fine with cooking your wee one’s every delight, then by all means, go right on ahead. My mother-in-law had no problem at all making six different meals every night to feed her family of seven, Lord bless her. She’s a better woman than me hands down. I don’t have that kind of patience, and growing up on my small East Texas farm I either ate what was on my plate or I went hungry. So somewhere in the middle my hubby and I came to this agreement…
First, moms and dads, please keep in mind that your child’s stomach is only as big as their fist. There. How does that make you feel? At ease about your child’s intake? Good, because it should. It doesn’t take nearly as much as you think to stuff little junior’s tummy! With this in mind I keep several things as a rule of thumb:
1- Use a small plate.
A salad or bread sized plate is plenty big enough for most children 9 and under. Large plates can be overwhelming and leave plenty of space to just spread food around without you really being aware of their intake.
2- Use small but balanced proportions.
If we are having grilled chicken, rice and green beans for dinner, I put equal but small portions on the plate. Remember, the size of their tummy is a lot smaller than you may realize!
3- After they have finished everything on their plate, they may have more of whatever they like.
(REMEMBER I USE SMALL PLATES AND SMALL PROPORTIONS KEEPING IN MIND THE SIZE OF THEIR STOMACHS!) Once the child has eaten everything on their plate, they can have more of whatever they want that we are serving for dinner. If they love rice but hate green beans, they have to finish everything on the plate before they get more rice.
These three tips have given me well rounded eaters that don’t complain about what we are serving and all of them have healthy appetites, good height to weight ratios and a healthy perception of food. Many times as parents, we mistakenly put our ideas and issues with food into what we THINK our kids consider about food. We “overpsycholigize” (is that even a word? it is now!) all the dinner table issues and neglect some pretty simple strategies to building a healthy eater…like small proportions and balanced diet.
It’s not abusive to get your kids to eat a few bites of veggies they don’t like. Blissy would have swore green peppers were the weed of Satan at age five, but she eats them happily now with hummus for a snack! Keep on getting them to try and taste new foods and even foods they don’t enjoy— that’s how you develop a healthy eater!