Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Clever" Ways To Deal With Picky Eaters (?)

Earlier this week, I was going through e-mail first thing in the morning. One of the e-mails was from the Meal Makeover Moms. They are registered dietitians who have a cookbook that I really like (and recommend!) and a website with recipes and other food-related information for busy moms. Their e-mail was a link to survey which they are conducting to gather information for their upcoming new cookbook. It was before 7am when I was completing this survey so my brain was not yet fully functioning. One of the questions was asking for clever and "out of the box" ideas for getting children to eat better. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember feeling very boring for not really having any ideas that I would consider to be "clever."

But later in the day, as I woke up, I started to think more about it. I will be very interested to read the Meal Makeover Moms next book and strongly support their work. I'm always open to new ideas and will be looking forward to hearing what clever ideas other moms have, but I'm wondering if clever is always the way to go. I've had success with my "in the box" methods. Applying tried and true ideas works for many people. So if you're looking for ways to deal with picky eaters that are really new and different, I'm probably not your person. But if you're looking for ideas that have been studied and shown to be effective, I can help! I believe that dealing with a picky eater requires the following:
  • Have family meals and serve them family style.
  • Always include one or two foods that your child usually likes.
  • Maintain a positive social and emotional environment at the family table.
  • Understand the division of responsibility in feeding. Familiarize yourself with Ellyn Satter's classic work, stating that parents are responsible for the what, when, and where of feeding, while children are responsible for whether and how much.
  • Relax about the nutritional value of individual meals and look at your child's eating patterns over a broader time period (a week or so).
  • And finally, have patience! Teaching children to eat a variety of healthful foods takes time.
What works for you? Do you have any "clever" ideas you'd like to share - I may not be able to come up with them on my own, but I'd love to hear about them.

And if you like taking surveys, take the one by the Meal Makeover Moms, and while you're at it, take mine, too!

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