Many of us have likely encountered a picky eating season with our kids.
Registered Dietitian Emily Mardell is here with some helpful tips to coach you through!
Emily Mardell is a Registered Dietitian, busy mama of three and proud Alberta foodie. Emily is passionate about quality ingredients and creating delicious, nourishing recipes that bring families together.
Coaching Kids Through Picky Eating
As a dietitian and mama of three growing athletes, I often rely on sport and coaching analogies to encourage families to improve their nutrition game. This is especially useful when helping families navigate picky eating.
Coaching a child to eat well is much like teaching them how to play a sport. Both require patience, practice, and perseverance. Just as it takes time for an athlete to develop their skills and improve their performance, it may take time for a picky eater to become comfortable trying new foods.
Encouragement is Key
There will be setbacks and challenges along the way, but with consistent support and guidance, your child can become a competent and confident eater. Just as a coach encourages their athlete to keep practicing and striving for improvement, parents can encourage their picky eater to keep trying new foods and exploring different flavors and textures. First step? Role-model for-the-win, parents!
Let Go of Desire To Control
Like a sport, there may be times when a child hits a plateau and progress seems slow. It’s important to stay positive and continue to provide a variety of healthy options at meals and snacks, even if they are not always immediately accepted.
With time, patience, and practice, your child can develop the skills and confidence needed to become a joyful, competent eater, much like an athlete who has mastered their sport. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. So, keep cheering your child on and celebrating their successes, no matter how small.
As a dietitian, I see parallels in supporting a picky eater to coaching a sports team. Just as a coach prepares and provides the necessary equipment and training for their athletes, parents should provide a variety of energizing foods at meals and snacks. However, just like a coach can’t control every move their athletes make, we can’t control what or how much our children eat.
Get Emily’s Stuffed BBQ Chicken Sweet Potatoes Recipe
Meal Time Hot Tip
The Division of Responsibility in feeding emphasizes that it is our job as parents to decide what foods to offer and when, but it is our child’s job to decide how much and whether to eat. By respecting our child’s appetite and allowing them to listen to their hunger and fullness cues, we can help them develop a positive relationship with food and progress towards the ultimate goal of being a confident, competent eater.
Remember, just as a coach doesn’t judge their athletes solely based on their performance in one game, we shouldn’t judge our child’s eating habits based on one meal or snack. Instead, focus on the big picture and provide consistent support and guidance to help your picky eater become a successful and healthy eater.
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