Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Preschool Palate (or, If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!)

My daughter is now 5, so she's edging out of the preschool category. Whatever the reason, this past month she (and at least one, sometimes both brothers) has eaten by choice green beans (first time in her life), Spinach Maria (2 helpings!!), raw celery and carrot sticks, Sloppy Joes, .....

I'm not sure if any of the following strategies have worked, but something has changed in all three of my children this past month. Just a few weeks ago, I was lamenting to my mother that they don't eat anything. And all of a sudden: they're eating with gusto! Especially my 5-year old.

So, for what it's worth, here's what we've been doing:

  1. All but eliminated snacks (I'll be honest here: this involves some whining in the pre-dinner-time hour).
  2. Made the time increments between meals more even (we now eat lunch between 12:30 and 1:00, for instance).
  3. Try to get regular exercise!
  4. Keep offering the good stuff; make each kid try each food option (that's it--no one has to clean their plates)
  5. Let the kids help with meals!
  6. Keep it simple: we don't do a lot of sauces; our side dishes are frequently raw veggies and dip, fruits, steamed veggies, etc. All the "stuff" on the plate is recognizable.
  7. Positive thinking only! Complainers get sent to their room to regroup.
  8. We offer fun descriptors like "try this--it's crunchy" or "look at all the pretty colors" and so forth--pique their interest.
  9. Tell them, "Oh yeah--you like this. You just don't remember." Sometimes, it's true :).
  10. Don't sweat it when a kid goes to bed hungry. If they don't like it, fine. But I'm not a short order cook fixing each person something different.
What are your strategies for encouraging healthy eating habits in your children?


jenna said...

i think it's about mindset too. when we believe our kids will adopt most of the family's recipes, our thoughts follow, then our actions and usually we get the result we want.
believe your child will be a good eater, think about your child as a good eater, offer the food you want him to eat and expect him to eat it, shower your child will attention when he does, and out pops a good eater.

Betsy said...

Great point!