Let me preface by saying that as a parent, and as having been a child, I know that there is no such thing as a “perfect” parent. There’s no ideal “guidebook” (we can only wish), and for most of us, it’s a little bit of trial and error and looking to our child to see how we are doing. So I hope today’s post, which is sponsored by one of our favorite real food bars—RXBAR—doesn’t come across as judgmental. Instead, these are merely suggestions on what we have found to work for our kids with regard to eating. I hope that they are helpful for you, too!
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- Forcing your child to clear their plate
Definitely a tactic that was used more “back in the day,” forcing your child to eat all of the food in front of them was actually deemed unhealthy in a study conducted in 2013. Not only did it pressure children into eating, but it doesn’t allow them to self-regulate and to listen to body cues that are telling them whether they are full or not. And along those same lines, there should not be rewards given for those who do clear their plate for the reasons stated above.
- Allowing them to have “kid food”
The meal served is the meal served; this is a rule that we instill in our house, and one I feel strongly about. By starting this practice off early, you set the precedent that dinner (or breakfast or lunch) is prepared, and this is what we will enjoy. I don’t believe I need to spell out the time and effort put into meals, right? Children should recognize and respect this fact and should not expect to be catered to with “special meals” for them simply because they don’t like something. Food allergies, sensitivities, and special needs are another story.
RXBAR recently introduced their PB&J bar for adults, which also comes in a kid-sized version—same ingredients, just different sizes. This is the perfect way to support this ideal, that just because you’re a child doesn’t mean you need kid snacks. No, you don’t need fish or animal-shaped crackers. You can have the same snacks that I do—and guess what? I’m pretty sure we’re both gonna love ’em! :)
- Letting them always select the same fruit or vegetable
I’ve seen this one firsthand in my house. Kids are packing their lunches, and I see them going for the carrots for the 3rd day in a row. Or an apple. Classic kid choices in my house. “Why don’t we try to switch it up a little,” I’ll suggest. “Is there anything else in there that looks interesting to you? Maybe some mixed berries, a kiwi, or we can do a banana and send some nut butter with it.”
Don’t lose the options or tell them what to take; work with them to see if there are other interesting foods and explain that variety is the spice of life…you want to eat a rainbow. You know all those great cliches. ;)
- Not enforcing the “one bite” rule
My older two girls don’t like tomatoes. Never have. But when I serve them, they still try one bite—even at ages 12 and 14. Tastebuds can change (and no two tomatoes are exactly the same!). What you don’t like today, you may like tomorrow. And some foods simply don’t look that appetizing—I get it—but they may taste AMAZING. Encourage them to try one bite, no strings attached. They can decide if they want another bite after that.
- Fad dieting in front of your children
I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to really explain this one, but my point here is not only saying you are on a “diet,” but also painting the picture that certain foods are off limits, or exhibiting low self-worth to your kids. While I’m no psychiatrist, I do know that our kids look up to us. We are their world, as my dad likes to remind me. They watch what we do, and I know that none of us would want them to emulate low self-worth. I speak from experience; my mom was always on a diet when I was growing up. No bread for years, the Atkins Diet on and off, cabbage soup diet – blech! I got on the low-fat kick myself when I was in high school, no doubt because of what I saw at home.
Encourage real food with plenty of produce and occasional treats. Eat until you are full, and eat when you are hungry. The rest will fall into place.
- Not enjoying food together
This is another one I’ve been guilty of in years past. For the first 6-7 years of us having kids, my husband worked late, often not getting home until 8:30 or 9 p.m. I would feed the kids dinner by 6:30 so that I could bathe them and get them in bed, and he and I would eat later. Worse yet, while they ate, I either nursed the baby, did dishes, or what have you around the kitchen. I didn’t even sit with them! Sitting together to enjoy meals is an invaluable time to connect.
- Giving up
I couldn’t end without this one. While I don’t have a 100% “picky” eater, one of my four had acid reflux as a baby and has the best palate out of anyone I know. When she was little, she wanted nothing but bananas, yogurt, pizza, or peanut butter toast. It took a LOT of trying over and over, and yes, there have been scowls, whines, tears, etc. But I’m here to tell you that persistence pays off. She is my one who prides herself on trying that one cherry tomato every time, even though she doesn’t like it. She makes sure to get fruits and vegetables at every meal even though they may not be her first pick. Patience and slow persistence can make it happen. There may be frustration on both parts along the way, but if you stay strong, I have confidence that you’ll have some success.
More about RXBAR
I mentioned RXBAR above, and you may remember our clean snack bars post that we did on them explaining why they are one of our favorites. In case you didn’t know, RXBARS are made with a simple blend of dates, nuts, and egg whites in a variety of flavors. So many readers are always asking for “cleaner” protein bar recommendations, and you’ll be amazed at how short the RXBAR ingredient list is! They contain NO added sugars, soy, gluten, dairy or GMO’s, but they DO come in a great variety of flavors—like their newest, Peanut Butter & Berries. They also have a kids line, which has the same ingredients—just a smaller serving size. See? Perfect for getting your child started (or continuing) on real food AND showing them that you eat the same that they do!
We asked our friends at RXBAR if we could have a special discount just for you so that you can try their bars. And guess what? They said yes!
You can use code 100DAYS and get 20% AND free shipping off of your entire order.
Don’t delay – the offer is only good through July 31, 2018. :)
Now tell me…have I missed anything? Are there other mistakes that you think that I forgot? Please share in the comments below!