Parents often worry about whether they are feeding their children the correct foods – it can become an area of comparison, self-doubt and stress. But I’m here to tell you, feeding children can be simple, and stress free!
I received a beautiful thank you card from a patient just this week (you may have seen it on my facebook page), which included a to do list for healthy eating. I loved how simply she put it, and how proud she was to know the difference between “good” and “bad” foods.
We all know what foods are good for our children, and what aren’t so great. I am also a firm believer that one specific diet is not right for everyone. That learning to listen to your body and becoming conscious of the effects foods have on your body is the easiest way to determine the best diet for you. When it comes to your children, what is right for your body may not be right for their bodies. So today I want to share with you some ideas to create a conscious eating pattern with your children.
1. Don’t over-complicate it
For the most part, children like simple foods. You do not need to be a master chef to please your child’s palate. Simple.
2. Allow active participation
If your children love cooking, encourage them to assist you in the kitchen. This develops a level of appreciation for your efforts each day. If your child absolutely hates cooking, don’t force them to help you – they will be more resistant to meal times.
3. Allow for body awareness and age-related changes
A child’s desires and tastes may change daily. Attempt to work with it. Sometimes they like broccoli, then suddenly they hate it. Furthermore, their appetites can change on a regular basis. Allow your children to be in tune with their bodies, and refuse foods that don’t feel right to them. Attempt to have them explain why they have particular aversions. Of course setting boundaries is imperative with this one – especially if they want lollies and cheese sandwiches for every meal!
4. Ensure your child can eat without difficulty
If your child has issues with gagging, choking or coughing while eating, or has obvious dislikes for particular textures, it would be worth speaking to your health care provider (such as your chiropractor) as this can indicate an altered or sensitive sensation in the mouth. There may be something that can be done about this. In my experience, children with feeding difficulties tend to be the fussiest eaters, and create the most trouble at meal times.
5. Foster independence
Give your child independence to feed themselves. Finger foods are great. This not only teaches them the motor skills of feeding themselves, it also allows them to play with their food and learn how to chew and swallow. Furthermore, fostering independence will make for happier, more confident children (though most likely a messier dining table!).
Take a moment before meals to stop and be grateful. This allows meal times to be more relaxed and joyful. Not to mention, puts your nervous system into digestion mode – which makes the process of eating much easier for yours and your children’s bodies!
Conscious eating allows your children to develop a healthy relationship with food. I’m sure you can think of many more to add to this list – add it in the comments below or on facebook.