Nov 28 2011

To Help Your Child Eat Better Try Not Talking About Food

Published by at 1:21 am under Uncategorized

What to do when your three year old will not eat vegetables? I recently had a husband and  wife ask this question. They have a  three year old son, their son will taste a vegetable, and  does not want to eat more. At every meal the father tells him to eat his vegetables  with little success. I suggested they stop talking about food at the table and here is why:  Several years ago I was conducting a workshop  and I had the exact same question from another mom and dad. In their case, meals had become stressful and a battleground. My advice to the workshop parents  was to stop talking about food at the table.  I asked them to talk to their child about food when it was not mealtime, to tell their son the changes they planned and why.  The afternoon after our workshop they told their son they were going to be adding more fruits and vegetables to meals because they felt doing so was important to their health and they asked their son to try a taste of every new food served.

When dinner  came the parents prepared and ate more vegetables and invited their son to try them too, but they did not coerce or cajole him into eating them. I got an email from these parents saying for the first time in years their was no stress at the table and their son actually ate more than he had in the past.

Here is what you can try at your table – at  the very least it will make meals less stressful:

  1. When it is not mealtime talk about food, tell your child  what you want them to do, why you want them to do it and how you want them to do it – keep it simple. You can try something like this: “Johnnie at dinner mommy and daddy will be trying new foods and we would like you to taste them too. If you do not like the food you can remove it from your mouth”.
  2. When mealtime comes everyone is invited to try the new food. In most cases if children are not being forced to eat something they will try it, if you have a long history of food struggles it may take several times before your child feels safe enough to try the food. If your child refuses, tell him you are disappointed and maybe he can try the food the next time it is served and leave it at that. Again when it is not mealtime tell your child what you are trying to do, why you are trying to do it  and ask him to participate.


Good luck and let me know if not talking about food helps at your family table.

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