Do you have a food monster at your house?
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Do you have a food monster at your house? You know – the one who demands junk food and sugary food all the time and won’t eat vegetables or drink water?
I had a client many years ago whose little boy was about 2 years old. This cute little guy was a powerlord. He totally controlled meal time. His hold was so strong that his mom would make four or five different, healthy, and perfectly fine meals for his little royal highness to choose from. He would systematically refuse each meal and proceed to have a tantrum to get whatever junk food item he was in the mood for right then. Finally, in frustration, his mom would give in. The little guy had his mom’s number. He completely and totally knew how to play her like a violin. Mom finally took the little guy to a pediatrician who said he could help. He could cure the child in three, count ‘em, three, days. Mom was intrigued. How could this fine doctor make this miracle happen? The doctor put the child in the hospital and put him on a fast – no food at all for two days. The child was allowed water, but nothing with calories – so no juice or liquid meal replacements. On the third day the little boy was cured. He would willingly and happily eat everything and anything that was offered him.
This is an extreme story. Most parents would like to avoid this scenario – the power struggles, the making of several meals for each meal time, and the stress of it all.
Children need to eat healthfully. As their parents we need to provide healthy food and model good food habits. “Eat as I say not as I eat” simply won’t fly.
Nutrition, good or bad, affects physical and mental health. An interesting study revealed that children perform better in school on no breakfast than on sugary breakfast cereals. Of course, they performed best on a breakfast that had protein and complex carbohydrates in it.
We also know that junk food leads to gut issues. Again, research is bearing out that gut issues are a huge cause of ADD, ADHD, and depression. Using the GAPS diet, which is a pretty intense eating program, can totally heal the gut and the learning and mental health issues that go along with a bad gut.
Here are some tips that might help take the picky out of your little eaters.
- Get rid of junk food. Clear it out of the house. I’m not saying no one should ever have a treat – just that what’s in the house is what is going to be eaten most. If you want a treat occasionally go out and get it.
- Learn how to cook healthier versions of your family’s favorites. Start substituting 25% fresh whole grain flour for white in recipes. Replace white sugar with xylitol or maple syrup (takes a bit of figuring out) or stevia.
- Transition into more vegetables. Put a plate of veggies and homemade dip out for the children to snack on when they’re hungry and before meals.
- Don’t try to control everything they eat. Children eat in a lot of places – at school, at friends’ houses, at team practices, at Grandma’s house – and the food often won’t be healthy there. Just let it go. Offer excellent food choices in your home most of the time. Trying to control everything they eat will lead to open rebellion!
- Give them supplements to cover for the short falls. Depending on the age of the child, The Sunshine Heroes vitamins may be appropriate. For older children (teens) the adult vitamins may be a better fit.
- When introducing a new food, everyone has to try a teaspoonful of it. If they love it, they can have more. If they don’t, they can leave it at that. They will need to try it again in a few weeks when it is offered again.
- Prepare enough variety, including foods that the child doesn’t like, that they can make a meal out of what is offered. They can pass on only one food on the table as long as it is not a new food. Of each of the required foods they need only have one teaspoon.
- Make meal time a family event as often as possible. Interesting research shows there is less substance abuse amongst teens whose families eat dinner together regularly.
- Don’t compare one child’s eating habits to another. Comparisons always engender animosity and jealousy.
- Put the food on the child’s plate. If she refuses to eat do not offer her anything else. No negotiating. Pediatricians agree that negotiating teaches children they don’t have to eat what was prepared. Save her plate. It will be what is offered when she is hungry until she eats it.
- Never use food as a reward.
One other tip – if your child starts eating unusual foods look for a reason. When our daughter was about 18 months old she started eating scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes – neither of which she had ever liked previously – and started refusing other foods that she had been eating well. Upon further investigation we discovered she had hand, foot, and mouth disease. We kept feeding her soft food and didn’t push the normal food while we treated the hand, foot, and mouth. Once she was healed up she started refusing the eggs and potatoes and asking for her normal food again.
Always remember, you are the parent. Children aren’t typically born knowing how to feed themselves and what to eat to stay healthy. That is your responsibility to teach them. By doing your job well you also bless your grandchildren with better health. Think about it 🙂
If you are having challenges with your child or just don’t know where to begin making improvements and would like some help, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available. I also invite you to Follow my website (cobblestonehealth.com) and Like us on Facebook (Cobblestone Health Ltd).
Supplements most children can benefit from:
Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).