So many moms and dads have confided in me over the years and admitted that they hate feeding their kids. Yikes! Many describe it as a “thankless job” and believe me, I can relate to their frustrations. There are certainly kids out there who start off eating well and continue to be adventurous and enthusiastic eaters right through the toddler years and into school age, but more often than not, there’s a bump in the road.
Kids are programmed to like sweets. Babies are born with a preference for their mother’s sweet milk. It’s the other tastes, for salty, bitter, and sour that develop over time.
While your kid may have started out eating the healthiest foods ever, like avocado, sweet potato and barley, it’s natural for her to develop some dislikes over time. Toddlers start exerting their independence around 18-24 months, and that includes deciding they don’t like certain foods.
Older kids are influenced by the foods they see their friends eating. It can be tough to find adequate answers to questions like “Why don’t we ever go to McDonald’s?” or “Sam gets lollipops in his lunchbox. Why can’t I have one?” It’s easy to rattle off answers like “Because it’s not good for you!” But the truth is far subtler and requires having an actual conversation with your kids where you talk about balancing “fun foods” and treats with the foods that are going to help them grow up to be healthy and strong.
As a mom of an eight-year-old, a five-year-old and an almost three-year-old, I have witnessed several stages and phases of my kids’ relationship with food. My eldest daughter’s pickiness inspired me to write Eating in Color and to take a new approach to how I encourage my family to try new foods. Peer pressure and the outside environment impact the foods that your kids are exposed to and it can be frustrating to accept the fact that we can’t control what our kids eat forever. But just know that YOU are the most important influence in what your child eats and their relationship with food. So, when you make the choice to load your plate with asparagus and carrots and start your day with a balanced breakfast, they’ll take note. Modeling healthy behavior really makes a difference!
I’m here to help you navigate the food landscape in your own household and will try my hardest to provide tips and ideas for building healthy eaters. I’m realistic–I know it’s not all kale and cauliflower crust pizza! There is definitely room in everyone’s life for ice cream, croissants and lollipops (and wine and beer for the grownups) –but we could all use a little help fitting in more of the stuff that will help our kids feel like superheroes.
Please get in touch if you have specific topics you’d like to see me address here, or if you have strategies that have worked for your own family. I hope we can help each other on this crazy journey we call parenthood.