Its mind boggling how often I hear this, and every time I think the very same thing. The only way your child can be eating only junk food, is if that’s what you’re feeding him! This isn’t meant to sound uncompassionate. I know raising a “picky” eater can be a nonstop battle, and I know well the pain of nonstop battles with children. But the fact remains that it is you who buys the food, you who prepares the food, and you who puts that food in front of your child. They cannot eat what isn’t there. And I ASSURE you, children WILL NOT starve themselves! Of course they will throw a fit and protest and may not eat for a while… that is OKAY. Fasting is actually very beneficial to the body. Never force a child to eat. Just prepare healthy food and put it in front of them. If they don’t want to eat it, that’s okay. No judgement. Put it in the fridge. When they say they’re hungry later, bring it back out and give them another chance to eat it. Repeat again, if necessary. If bedtime is nearing and they still haven’t eaten explain to them very straight forward, “This is what is for dinner. This is your last chance to eat tonight. You can eat it now, or wait until morning to eat. If you don’t eat now, you will probably be hungry in bed.” No threats, no judgement, just the truth. If they choose not to eat and cry later in bed because they want to eat just state the truth, “You chose not to eat your dinner before bedtime, and now you’re hungry.” Again, no threats, and no judgement. Let them cry it out if they need to. Lay with them and silently hold them. You are not abusing your child, you are teaching them that their choices have natural consequences. This is a very valuable lesson. You won’t always be there to save them from the consequences of their choices.
A few tips on feeding kids:
1. They generally LOVE fruit. Fruit is the perfect food for the human body and most of them are still in touch with their instincts enough to be very drawn to it. Never limit fruit. In fact in our family I make 1 meal for dinner, and they can eat it now or later (but they must sit with the family during meal time) OR they can exchange it for fruit. I will never tell a child to eat cooked food when they would rather eat fruit. That’s just how I work, how you work is of course up to you.
2. Require that a fresh, raw, colorful, tasty salad be eaten before the rest of dinner. They will eventually develop a taste for it and will love it. My kids go through phases where they don’t really want to eat dinner salad and where they eat 3-4 salads a day at their own request… and really, I do the same thing! I just go with it, but the dinner salad is nonnegotiable.
3. Never force a child to eat meat or drink milk. Their bodies cannot digest these substances and unless you are really picky about quality, they are laced with poison, parasites, and mucus and devoid of nutrients anyway. If they have an aversion, there is likely a reason. If they do love their milk make sure they are getting fresh, raw milk, preferably from a goat as the casein molecule is smaller and easier to digest and less likely to result in allergies.
4. If you have a child who doesn’t have an appetite for food in the morning, don’t push it. Our bodies are still in “cleanse mode” from our night of sleep. It takes some of us hours after waking to complete our nightly cleanse. This is normal and very healthy. Encourage them to drink water, herbal teas, or freshly juiced vegetables and fruits. They may be up for just eating fruit for breakfast as well because it is light and very cleansing. If your child attends school outside of the home there tends to be anxiety about “sending them to school hungry.” Let them be the one responsible for that. If they get too hungry before lunch time every day, they will likely be more inclined to eat in the morning. And if not, no harm done. It is perfectly fine to go until lunch (which in school is typically between 11 am and noon) before breaking the nightly fast.
5. Make food fun! Let them experiment in the kitchen. Kids love to come up with their own culinary creations. Play a home version of “Chopped”, give them several food items and challenge them to come up with something using all of those items…. say, raw cashews, bananas, raisins, vanilla stevia, and an avocado. Give them their own bit of garden or planter and let them grow their own food. Explore online and find creative ways of presenting fruits and veggies that are fun to look at. Let them take part in grocery list making and shopping. Let them cook with you and help them learn to follow a recipe. Yes, this all takes time and patience… but no one ever said parenting was convenient or uninvolved!
6. With infants, do all you can to breastfeed exclusively. Delay solid foods until the child is a year old. Feed the child only raw fruits and vegetables until they are at least 2 years old. Toddlers LOVE green smoothies and fresh juices! The first foods we eat become our “food imprint” and those are the foods we are naturally inclined to for the rest of our lives, so make that imprint a good one!
One last thing, I would feel I’m failing you if I didn’t mention this. Lets be honest. Most of the reason we feed our children certain foods, even though we know those foods are damaging, is because we ourselves are attached to them. Food addiction is no different than drug or alcohol addition. The chemical reaction in the body is identical. It is a very real thing. The fact is, processed foods are designed to be addictive. Its just simple marketing. Even foods that are labeled as healthy very rarely are and are also created for addiction. Food addiction is something I have dealt with myself and something that I coach people on regularly. It is too vast and too personal to cover in this post, but if you ask yourself if this is the reason you’ve still got these unhealthy foods in the house and the answer is yes, there is absolutely help out there, whether through me or another means. The most important thing is that you take care of YOU first. Lead by example. Make the changes in your own eating habits that may be necessary before you can be of help to the rest of your family. Inspire them!
If you are interested in my coaching services you can learn more at www.InnateWellnessCoaching.com.