How My Picky Eater Made Peace With Food – Food Battle Tactics
April 25, 2018
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When I first started blogging, my woes were already about the picky eater (or rather picki with an I😉) and her stand off with food. She had a personality that was already dead set in her opinion. Nothing I said or did made a difference. So essentially, her babble was the law in our house… who am I kidding, it still is!
We had debates and arguments over food at least thrice a day. She would babble, I would beg and the mister would go hide. I would try the airplane trick, she would use the eject button.
I would try the cooing and the funny expressions…she would just swat my hand away. You get the picture. Honestly that child was living on milk and teething cookies at one point and possibly cheese slices.
As always, her pediatrician would tell me to stop being so controlling and listen to what the little picki penguin is trying to communicate. And I would be like I know better, (Insert smug laugh). What would you know with all your medical degrees and experience with 100s of kids. I just had a baby a few months ago, I know everything there is to know. (Yes you may sympathize with him).
Over time as my patience ran out and well quite frankly my energy too, I started giving in to what she wants and would you believe it, we got to 2 solid meals a day. Pretty soon it was 3 meals a day! I was ready to get a DNA test done to make sure the toddler is ours and not a decoy (Hey you never know).
I know Picky eaters are a struggle for most carers so I wanted to share what eventually helped us out.
#1 Starting the breakfast at the right time
This one became such an important element. We actually used to eat some fruit and graze a bit until have breakfast an hour or two after waking up. That would actually bring us nearer to lunch time which of course had to be pushed ahead and so on and so forth. That really messed up our cycle and the toddler would barely have one proper meal. So we stuck to the schedule and started having breakfast 30 minutes after waking up. That allowed the little one to be able to digest some of the food before lunch time, hence making her hungry!
#2 Limiting the daily milk quantity
So we are milk addicts. If it was possible, the little penguin would chug down a gallon of milk a day. However that made her full and skip meals. So we restricted milk to be give only after meals were finished and set the quantity as per the pediatrician (2-3 cups a day). HOWEVER, I did consult our pediatrician to establish what the daily milk intake should be. So check that before going forward with this.
#3 Increasing the gap between meals
This one kinda ties in with starting breakfast at the right time to keep all other meals on track. But I did notice giving more than 3-4 hours gap between meal time helped us out so much! If the gap was say 4-5 hours then I would give out a small light snack like fruit. But essentially for a child who barely ate, increasing the time between meals worked wonders. The toddler ended up eating everything on the plate!
#4 Limiting or eliminating the number of snacks
Grazing or snacking may not be a habit that suits all kids. For us it didn’t work out well since we were snacking say every two hours. That essentially stopped giving my toddler the ‘signal’ to be hungry since a snack would provide temporary fulfillment. Hence our lunch/dinner time battle would ensue. However when I limited the number, time and quantity of snacks… it was a whole new ball game!
#5 Mandatory play time between lunch and dinner
We normally play a lot all day but the thing that worked best was getting some physical exercise in the afternoon. Not only did it help with meal times it also helped in making the toddler go to bed on time. You can’t really win much more than that.
#6 Adding a favorite item to each meal
This may be the wrong thing to do food variety wise but it helped us eat! And try new foods once the familiar taste and smell was established! After getting the toddler to try out the food, I would start taking it out from what I cooked for her. Oregano was our favorite flavor/scent so I noticed my toddler would smell the food and then decide if she wants to eat it or not. Having that familiarity helped her try new flavors and fall along the lines of accepting it. Once the new taste was established I started pulling back on Oregano too.
#7 Limiting or eliminating processed and sugary food
I probably don’t even need to highlight this one. Pretty self explanatory. So maybe switch out cookies with fruit strips or granola. Chips with crunch carrots and cucumbers. Fresh fruit works too. All these are light on the tummy and provide the toddler with all the good nutrients without making them overly full.
#8 Letting the toddler eat independently
Sigh. This one took a lot of patience. And a large mat under the high chair/table, a wearable bib and a whole lot of self restraint. Let the kid have the utensils and the food plate and try to eat by themselves. Don’t help. If the food falls, it falls. Eating themselves will keep them busy and you won’t need screen time (Yaasss!) and the feeling of independence is such a huge accomplishment for them. The kids end up enjoying the eating experience. If needs be, cut them up in cute shapes. Just brace yourself for the cleanup afterwards. And remember the little one was fed so a little mess is worth all that.
#9 Adding more fiber & iron in our diet
Oh this is a good one. Our diets sometimes cause constipation in our little ones. Especially if it’s carb or starch heavy. A major reason why toddlers feel so full and may not be eating enough.
The way to work around that is to increase fiber and iron in their diets. Could be through fruits, veggies, wheat, green leafy veggies or even supplements. I sneak in veggies & fruits in their food (Check out some of the recipes –Yummy recipes for toddlers)
I also use supplements such as Culturelle Kid’s Regularity Supplements . I normally mix it in her milk for an added fiber boost. This is the one I normally use.
#10 Eat together
This is a fairly important one and surprisingly one of the most uncommon practices. Normally the parent or guardian feeds the child first and then eats. Convenient as it may seems it essentially takes away the meal time and the ability to eat together and mimic the eating ‘acts’ at that age. Kids watch and copy you and that’s what you want at lunch/dinner time too.
It also encourages independent eating. Plus you get to eat at the right time too and having food in the belly will make you less cranky. So tighten up that heart of yours and give this a go!
These were some of the tricks that helped us out over the past year. Of course there are still tough days but at least something helps out to get some food in that little toddler.
I would love to hear from you and what helped you out. Anything to help out and get those tiny humans fed is a must share💕