Parenting Tip Ep 13: How to Train your Picky-Eater to be a Foodie

Every parent encounters this problem at one stage. Your kid starts to develop a habit of selective eating and each meal becomes a tug of war that seems to stretch on forever. And guess what? Over time, you will cave in and allow your baby to eat whatever they want because you are busy, you feel bad forcing them to eat or drink what you have prepared.

And…this is where the problem escalates.

Humans (small or big) are creatures of habit and your beloved little ones are no different either.

For babies or toddlers, they are constantly exploring their boundaries (i.e. testing the waters, we call it) and the moment they discover a crack, they will go for it. The crack may be a moment of emotion as you cannot bear to see him or her crying. We are not saying you should force-feed them food but they shouldn’t be the ones to make the choices for you.

You are the parents. You know better what’s good for them (at least for food and basic needs). When it comes to marriage and career later, they get to choose for themselves. Anyway you get the point. Parents, be firm with your kids or you may end up with an escalated problem that takes even more time and effort to fix later…

There is a saying in South Korea (I lived there for 2 years!) that habits developed before the age of 3 will last till 80 years old. Whether it is age of 3 or 4 or 5 in your country, the significance of this wise saying is not lost. During your kids’ formative years, make sure you’re setting the tone right for them and it will benefit them for life.

Today’s article is about food but the same principle applies to all aspects of life.

Well…back to food issue.

Why does your kid selectively choose his or her food?

The reason is simple. They have choices and who provides those choices. We. The Parents.

Yup, we encourage those situations when we allow them to act on their whims and fancy. No, we are not dictatorial parents but as mentioned earlier, it is the responsibility of parents to plan and decide what’s best for our kids when they are still so young and can’t make rational decisions.

Methods to help your kid become a Foodie

1. Parents set the examples in all situations. If you want your child to be a foodie, then first of all, parents and / or caretakers should live by example and enjoy taking meals of different varieties together with your kids. It doesn’t work when we just preach but not walk the talk.

2. Stick to routine timings for meals and feed the same amount. There may be occasions when your kid does not eat as much as usual and it’s okay to reduce the amount and let them make up with lighter feeding in between meal times.

3. Let your kids try different food at their natural state from young. This means avoiding unnecessary seasoning and keeping original colours and tastes as much as possible. As adults, we enjoy our food when it comes with seasonings (spicy, sour, sweet etc.) and unfortunately most of that is unhealthy but adults being adults, old habits die hard or won’t die at all. It is important to be patient when introducing new foods. Just because your baby is eating brown rice cereal (solid food) well does not mean all types of solid food would immediately go well with him or her.

4. Avoid fast food and processed food as much as possible. Fast and processed food are prepared in ways that whet the appetite but when consumed regularly can lead to obesity and other health issues.

5. Do not try to change the menu quickly the moment your kid resists it. By doing so, you are creating ‘options’ for them and encouraging them to be picky eaters. Instead, stay on the course and stick to the pre-planned meals. Sit them in front of their meals even if they do not eat it initially and gently coax them to take small bites.

6. Last but not least, it is important to create a happy and fun atmosphere during meal times. Have fun even in the midst of mealtime battles! If you get frustrated and try to force-feed them, this can backfire, leading them to dread every meal ahead.

Reasons why you want your kid to become a foodie

First and foremost, we all know that in order to grow healthier, a balanced diet is important and thus, it is crucial to set the habits right for your kid so that they don’t over-indulge in one area and malnourished in another. Secondly, feeding time can become a very time consuming activity if your kid constantly resists due to his or her picky habits.

Conclusion

The feeding habits of your child is an important aspect of their well being. In fact, it stretches into the future where their health too will rely largely on how they feed themselves. Many parents experience stress when they see their kids not accepting food or changing their eating habits. It is important to note that this does not mean your kid is having a serious problem that requires a special fix. Instead, be patient with them and help them adjust and build the right habits from young.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images