It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

Sign up for free parenting support!


Search

The Podcast

Listen Now!


DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

Schedule a 30 minute call today Bring Dina to your community Schedule a Professional Development Seminar

Links

Dinner Together Building Healthy Families One Meal at a Time.

Food Politics Marion Nestle's intelligent take on the politics of food and nutrition.

Fooducate Like Having a Dietician on Speed dial.

Hoboken Family Alliance A terrific resource for people living in the great city of Hoboken, NJ.

The Lunch Tray Everything you need to know about improving school lunches.

Parent Hacks Forehead-Smackingly Smart Tips

Raise Healthy Eaters One of the best blogs (other than my own) for learning to raise healthy eaters.

Real Mom Nutrition Tales from the Trenches. Advice for the Real World. From a mom-nutritionist who knows!

Stay and Play The best indoor playspace on the East Coast. Oh yeah, and it happens to be owned by my brother.

weelicious Great Recipes for Kids 

Wednesday
Mar042015

Introducing New Foods: The Reset & The Apology

If you're frustrated and at the end of your rope when it comes to introducing new foods, remember that your child is probably frustrated and the end of her rope too.

I know we don't usually think about our kids being fed up with the whole food fight thing, but they are. And that was why, in my last post, I said that the first step in changing the family dynamic was to take a vacation.

I hope you're considering doing that. Everyone needs a breather. Read more here. And if you're new to the series, start here.

Your child would eat the way you want him to...if he could.

Not eating new foods is the solution your child has devised to solve some problem (fear, stress, lack of confidence, control). It is a solution that works, but it's maladaptive. Your job is to help your child find another solution.

This is the Team Building Phase. The time when you move from being enemies to being allies.

Think of this as the time when you move from sitting across from each other at the negotiating table to sitting next to each other. Doesn't that feel friendlier?

You'll know you're on the same side when: 

  • Your child shares his feelings about food/eating with you voluntarily.
  • You feel less frustration and more sympathy.
  • Your child starts to relax around food/eating, i.e. her shoulders aren't up around her ears.
  • When you start to think, "How can I teach my child the lesson she needs to learn this skill?" instead of "How can I get my child to eat more/new foods."

Team Building was made possible by the vacation, but it really happens during The Conversation.

For some reason, most people I encounter do not want to do this part. They want to skip straight to the food. Please don't skip this. The Conversation is essential.

Elements of the Conversation 

  • Recognition that eating has been stressful. "Things have been pretty stressful around eating, haven't they?" Or, "I've been trying to get you to try new foods a lot lately. We've been kind of fighting, haven't we?"
  • Acknowledge that your child has bad feelings around this. "It doesn't feel too good, does it? In fact, it feels pretty horrible."
  • Your apology. "I'm sorry. I never wanted to make things feel bad for you." (It doesn't matter whether or not you feel like you have anything to apologize for. The apology is the game-changer because it gives voice to your child's feelings.)
  • Promise for Change. "We're going to start doing things differently around here. From now on, I'm not going to make you eat anything you don't want to eat." 
  • Re-establishing Your Goals. "It's important that you learn how to taste different foods. So, after a little break we are going to start working on that. But I'm not going to make you eat anything." (You're being a little bit of a technical lawyer here because you are going to work on tasting. But eating? That's up to your child.)
  • Recognition that this is difficult. "I know this is hard for you. That's why I'm going to do everything I can to make things easier for you."
  • Encouragement. "I know you can do this. And I'm really proud of you."
  • Add anything else to the conversation that might be unique to your feeding/eating dynamic. 

Allow your child ample time to share his feelings, but you may have to circle back to elements of this conversation a few times.

Rules of the Conversation

  • Parents initiate the conversation with their child or children.
  • The conversation should NOT happen at meal or snack time.
  • Choose a time for the conversation when everyone is relaxed, but not too tired. Bedtime works for some children. For others, a better time might be when you're driving somewhere in the car.
  • No accusations.
  • No dissapointments.

If you're worried about the conversation, if you've tried it and something unusual came up, or if you are worried it went wrong...ask. I'll answer all questions either in the comments section/Facebook feed or in a subsequent post.

See you tomorrow.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Tuesday
Mar032015

Phase 1=Team Building. But First...Take a Vacation

This is the second installment in my series: The Step-by-Step, Blow-by-Blow Guide to Introducing New Foods that's Guaranteed to Change How Your Kids Eat. If you are new to this series, start here.

In this post we're talking about the first phase in Introducing New Foods: Team Building. There are two steps:

  1. Rest
  2. Reset

We'll get to the reset soon. For now, though I want you to relax. Take a breather. Let some of the tension subside.

Stop trying to "get" your children to eat anything new for one week. In other words, take a vacation from new foods.

Everyone needs a vacation. Including your kids.

If you are stressed around food, then your children are probably also stressed around food.

Your kids aren't stressed because you're stressed. Your kids are stressed because they are people who are participating in the family dynamic, and that dynamic is making you both stressed.

Similarly...

  • If you're angry, your kids are also probably angry.
  • If you're tense, then your kids are also probably tense.

And...

  • If you'd like things to change, your kids would also probably like things to change. They just can't articulate it.

So...

Before you can change how your kids eat, you have to change the emotional environment around food.

Plan meals and snacks that are guaranteed to be eaten. And if nothing is guaranteed to be eaten in your house, then at least cater to your kids the best you can. Tap into your inner permissive parent. Do this for about one week.

If you're like most parents, this advice sounds both pleasing ("Yay...no fighting for a week!") and defeating ("Are we really back to square one?"). Hang in there.

This does NOT mean you should provide a nonstop, steady supply of junk.

Stick to a structure for when meals and snacks are offered. No non-stop grazing.

This does NOT mean you should become a short-order chef. (Unless you already are one.)

Put food on the table that your children can be expected to eat. If these foods get rejected, don't jump up to get another item. You've already prepared the preferred foods. Now let your children decide if they want to eat.

  • "Chicken nuggets? Yuk."
  • "Well, you normally like chicken nuggets. That's why I prepared them. You don't have to eat them if you don't want. There will be a snack later today if you're hungry."

If this produces a meltdown, you have a behavioral problem on your hands not a food problem. Solve it the way you would solve any behavioral problem. 

In the next post, I'll start talking about the reset. In the meantime, if you have questions about this step, ask.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Read the next installment in this series here.

Monday
Mar022015

The Step-by-Step, Blow-by-Blow Guide to Introducing New Foods that's Guaranteed to Change How Your Kids Eat

Today is the start of the step-by-step, blow-by-blow guide to introducing new foods that I promised.

There are three phases.

  1. Team Building
  2. Growing a Good Taster
  3. Moving from Tasting to Eating

I can't tell you how long each phase will take because that really is going to be determined by your individual situation. I can tell you this: Don't try to rush through Phases 1 and 2 to get to Phase 3. If you move too quickly, and ask your child to accept too much change, things will fall apart.

Ask questions. Often.

I encourage you to ask me questions as we go along. You can do this either right here in the comments section or you can do it on Facebook.

I will answer every question—yes, every question—either in the comments section or in a subsequent blog post.

Your kids don't have to be toddlers to play along.

That was the first question I received.

Everything I tell you about introducing new foods to toddlers can be modified to introduce new foods to older children. The key difference is that, when dealing with older kids, you have to develop more trust and get more buy-in. If that's not happening in your house, ask me how to do it.

Phase 1: Team Building

I know this seems like a strange place to begin because it isn't about the food, but this phase is really important.

  • Reduce tension
  • Build trust
  • Change the family dynamic
  • Dilineate a break between the old way and the new way
  • Let kids know what's going on—and why
  • Become allies (instead of enemies) in the food department

Phase 2: Growing a Good Taster

In this phase we'll separate the process of tasting from eating so you child builds the skills to become a good taster.

  • Build confidence
  • Increase knowledge about different kinds of food
  • Develop tasting skills
  • Increase comfort around new food
  • Reduce resistance
  • Learn how to explore new foods in a way that works

Phase 3: Moving from Tasting to Eating

In this phase we'll talk about how to add new foods to the menu.

  • Menu planning with new foods
  • Using backups to eliminate stress

Remember: Ask questions

I'm here for you. Let's get this done.

See you tomorrow to start on Phase 1.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Read the next post in this series.