According to Today's Parent, kids' eating habits is among the top five "keep you up at night" worries parents have.
I am excited to have the opportunity to introduce Emi Kirschner, mother, speaker, and coach, to address those concerns.
Are you ready to end the food battles in your house? If so, sit back and read on. Emi Kirschner, mother of two and holistic health coach knows first-hand the struggles of trying to balance healthy eating and a picky eater, and she is sharing her wisdom with us this week.
I used to have the pickiest eater on the planet. My oldest son was four and ate only four things. Yeah.. really, only four. That was it. All day every day he rotated through apples, yogurt, granola bars and the best one… Frozen Uncooked Ravioli… don’t ask. I honestly don’t remember how we discovered that one. Exhausted and frustrated, I was just grateful that he ate anything. I would have done anything, and I mean ANYTHNG to have him eat more. He would graze all day with a little something here and a little more later. He was never hungry during dinner and I was frustrated beyond belief.
After a particularly epic battle over lunch one day, I decided I was done negotiating with a 4 year old, and I changed the way I approached mealtimes. The constant snacking was one of the first things to be “revised” after I started paying more attention to how much he was eating. I realized there was no way he could be hungry for lunch or dinner with all the “snacks” he was having.
Most young kids need to have a snack in between meals. Depending on the age and individual child, a morning or both a morning and afternoon snack is appropriate. The problem arises, as studies are showing that our kids are snacking much more than they used to. In fact, recent studies show that the calories consumed from snacks count for 27% of total calorie intake, and has increased dramatically. Our kids are consuming 168 calories a day more in snack foods than in 1977. Unfortunately, what our kids are eating for snacks tends to be high in sugar or salt and low in nutritional value.
As obesity and type 2 diabetes is a growing concern, the lessons you teach your kids now about food will create the basis for how they view food as adults. I experience this as I work with my own clients. When my clients change what they eat, their kids, over time will be more open to eating healthier. As far as snack goes, make it what is really supposed to be, a bridge from one meal to another to maintain energy.
Try these tips to make meal times easier and your kids healthier:
Snacks are a mini-meal. Grazing was one of my son’s favorite activities because he could eat while he played. Neither one of us knew how much he consumed. Make snack time be like any other meal. Sit down, at the table, a coffee table or on the floor and have your child stop doing whatever it is he/she is doing. This teaches them to eat what they need to and to learn when they are full, preventing overeating. A little bonus of making this a practice is when your child is used to sitting down to eat, it makes going out to eat, much, much easier.
Choose healthy snacks and on occasion give your kids 2 options, either the apple or some grapes. This gives them the feeling like they have some say, which they should. Eating and when they go to bathroom are the two things little kids get to control in their world. Everything else is pretty much decided for them. Include other healthy options such as cheese, hummus and veggies, 10 minute almond bars, plain or vanilla yogurt (much, much less sugar and less of a chance for artificial sweeteners than in yogurt with fruit in it) etc. I like to use leftovers for snacks too. A little left over grilled chicken, goes a long way.
By far, my favorite is having a conversation. Both my kids used to tell me they were hungry, usually about 30 minutes after we had dinner. Before giving them anything else to eat we played a little check in game. Are you tired? Are you bored? Is your stomach empty? Do you need to go to the bathroom? Are you thirsty? Usually, my kids were bored or tired and we would come up with ways to relax before bed or something else to do. Teaching your kids to check in with themselves is an invaluable skill that will give them an aware of what their bodies really need. They will be less likely as teens to have eating disorders or feeling guilty while standing in front of the freezer eating a half gallon ice cream as an adult because they will recognize what they really need to be fulfilled and satisfied.
A couple months after I decided that my son was no longer going to be the pickiest eater on the planet, I realized that the frustration, the battles and the epic negotiating had stopped. His mood was much better, he wasn’t bothering me every two minutes for something else to eat and we were having much more fun together. Today he is 18 and he eats pretty much everything.
If your child isn’t quite the pickiest kid on the planet, and maybe is choosier than most. Be assured by implementing even one small change, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Meet Emi Kirschner
Writer, Speaker, Coach and Single Mom, Emi Kirschner, CHHC supports multitasking professional moms who struggle to find balance between work, family and a few quiet moments to themselves – never mind trying to eat healthy. Emi’s holistic life gives women the space to be heard without being judged. Her realistic strategies are simple to implement and help her clients create their best life, by design. As the mom of a former “Pickiest Eater on the Planet” Emi’s system for ending power struggles and getting kids to eat has been called “Amazing!”
Emi’s online course, French Fries to Foodies, teaches parents how to end the negotiating over what to eat.
Emi, resides outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her two sons and two dogs. In her free time, she indulges her love of food by planning her travel around where she will eat and whether or not she can wear flip flops.
Connect with Emi on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIN