We’ve said it before: The less attention you pay to what your child is eating, the less stressful mealtimes will be and the more likely your child will make better eating choices (because he thinks he’s calling the shots, not you).
It’s easier said than done – so we came up with five tips to stop focusing on food.
1. Don’t discuss food at mealtime
Ask about school, talk about your day, or chat about upcoming activities. Is he leaving all his veggies uneaten on his plate? Don’t mention it. Is he whining about having beef stew again? Ignore it, and change the conversation.
2. Don’t customize meals for picky eaters
It’s frustrating to make multiple meals to suit different tastes. Try making a balanced healthy meal, including 1-2 items you know your child will eat. This can be as simple as adding a bowl of red pepper slices on the table or serving plain whole grain rice as a side.
3. Consciously de-stress
You don’t want your child thinking meals are stressful because he feels your eyes glued to his plate. Train yourself to stop worrying about what he’s eating by focusing your attention on conversation that doesn’t involve food, and letting your child see that you’re enjoying your own meal for a change!
4. Stop snacks at 3:30
This can work wonders to improve appetite at dinnertime. Corral your kids for a snack at 3:15, and make sure they know they can’t have any snacks after this. It’s liberating to close your kitchen; more time being productive, less time catering to constant requests for food. Make sure your child doesn’t have a stash of crackers to graze on all afternoon, and don’t give milk or juice between 3:30 and dinner – water only!
5. Serve dinner early
If your kids are super hungry at 5pm and you’re tired of saying no to snacks, eat dinner at 5. They’ll be more likely to eat what you’re serving if you have it at a time that works for them.
It’s a big shift in thinking to stop worrying about what your child is eating. Some restructuring in how you serve food and how you talk about food can have surprising results – over time, food is no longer an argument!
Do you have more tips on how to stop worrying about what your child is eating? Do share them with us in the comments!