Kids and food, two things that don’t seem to mix very well. Kids seem to like two kinds of food fried and sugar filled. This does not a well balanced diet make. It is also not heathy for our relationships to spend every night attempting to stuff them with broccoli. When half the time we just give into their favorite brand of chicken nuggets.
I have a good friend who is a speech patholigist. She also works with children who have strong aversions to eating or eating certain foods. She said she has to take the parents out of the room to work with the kiddos. This is because there is so much built up anxiety between mom and child over food that it is no longer just about eating. We are at war with our kids over food! I decided to end the war, remove my emotions, and work with defined rules about food.
Food for me is multifaceted. It is so much more than simply a form of nutrition. Food brings people together. You meet people for lunch, you eat fancy food for dates, you share holiday dinners, you cook in the kitchen with your family. I want food to be about the adventure, about community, an expression of love, and not about the broccoli!
I wanted to share our rules with you. They are simple, easy, and pretty strict; however, it has taken the fighting out of meal time and that has freed us all. Food is just food and Mommy battles with band aids, not broccoli.
- You sit at the table for meals. (Even if you don’t want to eat.)
- You eat what you are given or you do not eat.
- If you do not eat, you do not to eat until the next meal.
- We do not eat dessert.
- We do not drink juice. (Milk, Water, or nothing.)
- We do not eat after 4:00pm.
Six simple sure-fire rules that work. The kids eat what I cook! It’s a miracle! One night I will cook food for them chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. Other nights dinner is lasagna or roasted chicken. I was tired of cooking two meals. I didn’t want to anymore. So, I don’t. I learned when I gave them juice they would drink, not eat. If they had milk they would eat and drink the milk with their dinner. So, no juice for dinner. It is a special treat and we really just don’t drink it anymore. We eat fruit instead.
We were bribing the kids to eat their dinner with dessert. You shouldn’t eat dinner for sweets! What kind of message is that?! You should eat because you are hungry and you should eat nutritious food. So, dessert is a special treat and we now eat our sweets for a snack and dinner is the last thing we eat in a day. Last of all you can spoil your dinner. When I handed them anything to eat after 4 they wouldn’t eat at 5:30 o 6. They aren’t hungry enough to want to eat that healthy meal and they didn’t. Now, with a long period of time between snack and dinner they are hungry, they want to eat, and they will try new foods just because it is there and they are hungry.
These rules work for us. They might not work for you, but I know that rules are liberating. They set boundaries and when they start that food fight you just pull out the rule and the battle is over.