What to Do If Your Child Won’t Eat Healthy Food
Children can be picky eaters sometimes; some children, however, can be even more so. This often leads to them not getting enough nutrition, while us parents end up worried about the negative effects that their eating (and non-eating) habits will have on their overall health.
While this may surprise some parents, it is very common for children to be picky eaters. Often, they’d just opt to eat a specific types of food and will just ignore or flat out refuse to eat anything else. There are also various stages of the child’s development when they choose to eat very little, eat only a single type of food, or opt not to try new foods. Fixations about food is also very common, with some children going out of their way to require that certain foods be prepared in very specific ways. While they’ll show what you might believe to be symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in this regard, this is all completely normal behavior.
Now many parents go ahead and set rules as to what their children should eat and not eat in an effort to make sure that they are eating well and healthy. This is basically controlling a child’s eating habits, and something that we consider a big mistake. It simply doesn’t work and will compel your child to be stubborn, leading to more issues with food.
What we should keep in mind that picky eaters are merely going through the process of experimentation that will eventually develop their food preferences. Reflecting this is the fact that picky eater’s habit tend to be very inconsistent; usually, they’d go eating heartily and then eating so little or none at all on the next day.
At this stage, children are still exploring food, playing with it often rather than eating it. You will notice that they eat a lot of snacks and often end up unwilling to eat full meals, finishing just a portion of their meals or touch none of it at all; sometimes, they’d just their food away. But don’t be alarmed – this is only temporary and your kid’s habits concerning food will change as they go through normal stages of development.
As such, let your child eat as they please! Do avoid controlling what they should eat, the times that they should be eating, and where they should sit down for their snacks or meals. Give them the freedom to explore their eating preferences and help them get a better feel of their body, learning to eat when they are hungry and not when their cravings demand a feeding session.
You might as well let go of the term “picky eater” as well; children simply can’t get stuck in a single feeding pattern for a long period of time. What’s important here is that you avoid a power struggle between you and your child when it comes to food. Make it fun for both you and your child, letting them choose what, when, and if they even eat at all. Giving them a free leeway with food lessens the friction between you and your child, giving you more opportunities to guide them into eating healthy diets.
That said, be sure to maintain an open dialogue with your kid regarding food, starting in their early years. Teach them what they need to know about different types of food, teaching them how it affects their bodies and what is beneficial for them. Don’t be a boring lecturer! Be fun and creative! Even better, practice what you preach and be their model of what healthy eating looks like.
As you go along, observe your children and find out the approach that works for you. Don’t overdo it, and don’t teach them too much early on. The easiest approach is always the best, and be sure not to make an issue with food. The key here is to stay positive and fun.
Keep healthy food as an option in the dining table, regardless if your child eats it or not. If your kid goes for the latter, do not stress over it and remember that the child is still experimenting with tastes and food preferences. Don’t let it get to your ego; they’d stop ignoring that carefully-prepared plate of vegetables eventually and give it a try. Keep watch over what they are consistently eating several days in a row, however, and use it as a cue to steer them to a nutritionally balanced weekly diet.
Every child is unique so you will need to tailor your approach at getting them to eat healthy. Get a clue from the way they react to food. You will receive opinions from family and friends regarding this matter. You will have to trust your instincts when it comes to outside feedback, ignoring it if you feel it isn’t right.