Picky Eaters – Tip #3 (video)

Now for tip #3 for managing picky eaters!

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In a previous post I started explaining my approach to picky eaters and how I approached our picky eater when he was 3.  He’s now 4 and things are going much, much better.

The first post was all about food battles and how to avoid them (and why).  The second one answered questions about whether or not to use bribery to get kids to eat.  You can access that one here if you missed it.

Here’s tip number 3 on what we did to subdue the picky eater in our family.

Tip #3: Picky eaters need consistency.  Having set and consistent eating times helps out in several ways.

We started this strategy early on in our parenting careers and we are really seeing it pay off in our 6 year old.  C was still learning the ropes though his picky stage.  But it paid off in the end.

We have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we have mid morning, mid afternoon and before bedtime snacks.  That’s it.  We avoid handouts at other times.

Sometimes the schedule gets a bit screwed up on busy days when we’re out and about or if dinner is really late…. but the more we stick to this schedule, the better things roll.  If you have a very picky eater, this strategy works well to get things back on track.  If your child isn’t very picky then you can be a bit more flexible.

How/why does this help?

1. This saves me the headache of being in the kitchen all the time offering handouts.  I have three kids and if they always ate when they felt like it things would get crazy around here!

2.  More importantly, it helps the kids get to know their hunger patterns.  My 6 year old in particular,  knows how much he needs to eat to tide him over the couple hours until snack time.  He looks forward to the eating times and he notices when they are missed. The kids know that during these eating times there will be enough food offered so that they can eat as much as they need to feel full until the next eating time rolls around.

3.  Using this strategy means that food is offered every two hours or so.  That is frequent enough  to keep their blood sugar stable (as long as the food is nutrient dense) but is  spread out enough so that they come to the table hungry for their main meals (instead of full from the snack they just had).  For some recipe ideas and snack suggestions go here or browse the recipe category on my blog.

4. This approach gives your child confidence that their needs will be met and helps alleviate the anxiety that sometimes underlies picky eating behaviour.

The pickier your child is, the more helpful it is to stick to this strategy of consistency.  You might feel compelled to offer her food whenever she expresses hunger because she’s eating so little due to pickiness, but try to think big picture here.  You are ultimately teaching her to feel confident and comfortable around food and feeding.  A consistent pattern that she can come to rely on will help with this.  Grazing, like bribery, can spiral out of control very quickly and I caution against it (though please keep in mind that I’m talking about children over the age of about two here)

More tips for picky eaters are coming….. so stay tuned

Questions?  Comments?  What have your experiences been?  Do you have a grazer?  Do you keep things consistent?  Have you tried this strategy?

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