Want to give your child's diet a total make over? Start ONE step at a time!
Anyone on a diet can tell you that they’re difficult to follow. So often people talk about “willpower” and “mind over matter”, but the truth is, quite often we (dietitians included!) are not choosing foods we’re trying to avoid just because we can’t go a day without cookies. We develop routines and habits because they are what work for us, while balancing work, kids, schedules and more. We eat the cookies on the counter because we’re in a hangry rush and they’re the closest thing there. Or we choose the sandwich over the salad because it’s easier to eat in the car on the way to the next meeting. What this means is that trying to 180-degree shift from what you’re currently doing and change your entire routine without changing everything else in your life, is basically a recipe for a diet that lasts all of one day……
The same thing is true when it comes to feeding our kids. Especially for children who are used to eating a diet with limited variety or who are known as “picky eaters”. With new foods it can take multiple attempts to encourage children to touch them, let alone eat them! And quite frankly, children don’t seem to share the same concern that they will wither away in their sleep, that most mothers do if their child doesn’t finish their dinner (you know what I’m talking about).
For many mothers there comes a day when the last straw is done and a declaration is made that things will be different today! However, I’ve seen many mothers who steadfastly promise no meal alternatives at breakfast and by the end of dinner when their child hasn’t eaten anything, I’ve seen almost all of them whip up a peanut butter sandwich before the last piece of broccoli even hits the floor. For reals- no judgement…. I would do the same thing. When you and your kiddo have gotten into a routine of your child choosing the menu, turning the entire day on its head can be incredibly stressful for everyone involved.
When introducing new foods, whether to infants, or to older children with a history of picky eating, I always recommend choosing ONE meal to start and keeping the other meals as foods that you know are reasonably acceptable to your child. Every mama wants to know that their kiddos have something in their tummies. What that means is, on a day where we are having pizza for dinner (which my kids can polish off like nobody’s business), it’s a perfect time to try something new at lunch time. Planning in this way means that even if my kids don’t touch a bite, I can rest assure that they will happily eat at their next meal. Choosing only one meal to serve new foods with no substitutions, means that mama can stay calm, cool and collected even if her child won’t touch one crumb and it makes it easier for moms to stick to her guns, knowing her kiddo has either already been well nourished throughout the day, or will have ample opportunity to eat his/her favorites later on.