Most parents have experienced the frustration of having a child not want to eat at mealtime. Whether they are being a stick in the mud about trying something new or eating their veggies, or they are more excited about doing something else, it can be painful to watch food that has been paid for and cooked go to waste. However, studies are showing that there is a link between forcing kids to clear their plates and childhood obesity. What can you do to keep your child healthy and save your sanity?
Allow Children to Portion
After all of the food has been prepared, allowing children to select their own portions can help to save waste. While children may not be perfect at portioning at first, over time doing this will help them to tune into their own needs and get better at figuring out how much food is just right. If they want seconds, let them go back, but don’t force them to eat everything that they’ve taken.
Allow Small Portions of New Foods
If children try to skip the veggies or something that is new, encourage them to at least try three bites. This number usually allows children to get over the emotional food response and figure out if they truly like the food. If children don’t like certain foods, that’s okay! Everyone has foods that they like and dislike. Instead of forcing them to eat the hated food, try to find substitutions that have all of the same nutritional benefits. If the child is old enough, make a game of it and have them help you find foods that they like that have the same benefits.
Allow Children to Eat Later
Sometimes dinner happens to come at a time when children aren’t hungry. For whatever reason, their body clock didn’t line up with the dinner bell. This is not unusual, but it can be frustrating to hear “I’m not hungry,” after slaving over the stove. Encourage kids to sit down and try to eat a few bites, but allow them to wrap it up and reheat it later if they don’t find their appetite right away.