I just checked out your website and I love it. I have two boys - 2 1/2 and 6 months. My older son was a good eater until about 18 months. And now, while he doesn't eat a lot of junk food except for maybe some cookies, he does not eat dinner foods and rarely tries something new. I have been very frustrated and discouraged over the past year and can admit to giving up on several occasions with the food issues. I am trying to help him become a better eater and deal with my own weight difficulties. I find that stress and lack of time to plan are the biggest contributors to my eating problems and my family's eating routines. Any suggestions? D.L.
You are experiencing a common challenge - lack of time to prepare healthy foods. Addtionally, you have the challenge of a picky-eating toddler. As for your little 2 1/2 year old, don't give up. It really is a normal developmental stage that many little ones go through... part of the 'practicing independence' process as well as reduced appetite. As parents (and adults), we tend to expect them to eat more than they really require, which often sets up conflict and interferes with their inborn food regulation system. Research shows that it often takes 10 or more tries of a certain food before a child may develop a taste for that food, so patience and consistency is important.
The best thing a parent can do through this stage is to set boundaries as far as sitting at the dinner table with the family and giving the child choices as to what he/she would like to put on his/her plate for dinner (assuming of course that everything on the table is nourishing). If the child doesn't want to sit, set a timer for an age-appropriate period of time and tell the child that when the timer goes off, he/she may leave the table. Gradually, increase the time.
As for eating well at dinnertime, be especially careful about in-between meal snacks so the child is hungry when he/she comes to the table, giving frequent small but nutritious snacks. Cookies, juice, crackers should be given a very small percentage of the time since they provide calories but not nutrients.
Also, please refer to a previous post But, My Child is a Picky Eater for more suggestions on this important topic.
The Family Food Coach welcomes your questions. Please send an email with Ask the Coach in the Subject line. Due to volume, all questions may not be published or answered.