Best-selling author Pamela Druckerman, offers three keys to improving kids’ eating habits from her new book, Bébé Day By Day. To put her advice into practice, this week’s challenge is to go grocery shopping with your kids, let them pick out the vegetable they want to try, then cook and eat it together.
Many of us are fighting unique battles when it comes to getting our kids to eat better. Druckerman answered specific questions about kids and food.
Q: With food, as with many parenting issues, I wish I’d done things differently from the start but since I didn’t, are there tips and tricks for making some of these changes when your kids are a bit older and already set in their ways?
PD: How do you change the rules midway? … Just for starters, there’s one dinner, and this is what we’re having for dinner. [You need to] believe that you have the authority to do that and the conviction that your kids are not gonna starve. They are going to eat. Be comfortable with them being a little bit hungry, and don’t get panicky about that. The French approach is not at all rocket science: make sure your child eats when they are hungry, and make sure the first thing he sees is a vegetable when he’s really hungry. I would use the [“just taste it” approach] really gradually; I wouldn’t sit him down in front of 10 new foods. I would have the starter be something that he’s not familiar with.
Q: You say there’s only one snack a day in France. How can I deal with out of control snacking?
PD: The French have something that’s called the gouter, the afternoon snack. It’s really festive, often with some chocolate. It’s at four, fourish, and it’s going to be something nice, that’s a treat. [If your child is asking for a snack at another time], maybe replace the snack with another form of comfort, like a stuffed animal or a conversation, a reassurance. … It’s about really believing that you know best in these situations, you can listen to her and say, “I completely understand you want a snack, but we’re eating in an hour and half, and you had breakfast, and we’ll eat at lunchtime.” And then meals become more substantial and more of an event, and she’s more motivated to sit down, and everything falls more into place.
YOUR TIPS AND EXPERIENCES
On Facebook, Twitter, and in the comments section, you offered great advice on getting kids to eat their veggies. Here are some tips we’ll be trying out!
Melissa Douglas: I have a dish I call “Rainbow Pasta” that I’ll prepare sometimes. Essentially, it starts with whatever shape pasta tickles my four year old’s fancy that day (and if they have tri-color ANYTHING, all the better.) I put as many colors into it as I can, starting with tomato sauce. Usually, we add YELLOW squash and onions, PURPLE eggplant, RED tomatoes, GREEN zucchini, ORANGE bell peppers … and so on. Sometimes, we mix and match the veggies; sometimes, we add them all. I over-emphasize that dinner is like a rainbow, and we get to taste each different part of the rainbow. And if she manages to just eat the pasta, so be it – she’s gotten a serving of veggies from the tomato sauce.
mitzvahmom: At our house it is called a “no thank you bite”. Regardless of the food, and even if you already know that you don’t like it, you are required to take a no thank you bite. Proud to report that there are very few things that my children will not eat and they always get a big laugh when my husband takes his no thank you bite of asparagus.
June Wemlinger: Fix one meal, if they chose not to eat it, they can eat at the next meal..it works. It worked on my kids, they learned to eat their meals, they didn’t get a PB&J or a bowl of cereal if they didn’t eat dinner…be the parent and stick to your rules…
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