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Why I do not argue with my kids over food.

If I am being completely honest, the title should probably read "How I try to not argue with my kids over food. Kids wage the epic battle of food with everyone they come into contact with, be it a family member, teacher, sitter, etc. Sleeping, going to the bathroom and what they eat are the three things kids have control over in their life and some wield this power with superhero strength. While trying to balance my kids palette with the demands of what they will eat, it can sometimes seem like being a Circ De Solie acrobat seems like the easier job. Between trying to cook from scratch and not just open a can of spaghettiios....the easy button screams out to me at times. My husband is a phenomenal cook but oftentimes those new textures and flavors leave some or all of my kids falling out of their seats, groaning in agony. Here are a few ways we pump the brakes on food and try to get through meals without starting World War III

  • Involvement in Meal Planning and Cooking: Consider involving your kids in meal planning. While you may not give them complete control, allowing them to choose between a couple of options can give them a sense of autonomy. The question “what's for dinner” is agonizing for adults but often our kids have many ideas. Our kids are also involved in cooking whenever we can have them safely join in. 

  • Presentation Matters: Sometimes, it's not just about the taste but also the presentation. Making meals visually appealing can increase the chances of your kids trying new foods. Get creative with shapes, colors, and arrangements. One thing I love to do is put sprinkles on yogurt, healthy muffins etc. Suddenly that zucchini muffin covered in sprinkles is a highly desired option vs plain jane. My daughter also has an obsession with salami.....I have literally put a piece of salami on top of a piece of pizza, which she then devoured!

  • Model Good Eating Habits: Children often learn by observing. If they see you enjoying a variety of foods, they might be more inclined to try them as well. Make family meals a positive and enjoyable experience. We also talk about options that adults vs kids have access to, for example coffee or pop are "adult drinks" in our house and one they can look forward to as they get older.

  • Set a Positive Environment: Try to create a positive environment around meals. Avoid pressuring your kids to eat specific foods, as this can lead to resistance. Instead, make mealtimes a relaxed and enjoyable part of the day. We try to focus on their events during the day and not what they are consuming. Asking questions like "who did you play with at recess, what book did you read today, etc"

  • Provide choices within reasonable limits. For example, you can ask, "Do you want carrots or broccoli with dinner?" This gives them a sense of control without compromising the overall nutritional value. I also do provide a second alternative to dinner....which I sometimes get a lot of raised eyebrows for but at the end of the day I want my kids to learn to make HEALTHY alternative choices. If they try the dinner and it makes their taste buds crawl, we offer options like a sandwich, yogurt, cereal etc. If they are big enough to make a sandwich, have them involved or let them make it. Just because it is an alternative does not mean MORE work for you. This allows them a life skill and takes ownership of their preferences. 



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