When I had Brooklyn, I thought that simply being a health coach and eating well myself would be the key to Brooklyn eating healthy. She was an amazing eater when we started solids. In fact, she ate everything with no challenges. I thought, “I got this!” and like many of you, a toddler fooled me. How do they do this so well?! We think we have the system down and then they surprise us. Where we feel we need to start all over figuring them out.

So instead of feeling frustrated, confused, or alone, let’s talk about it! Below are MY tips from not only experience but also some tough talks with our pediatrician. Good news is that the road to your children eating better will actually make your life easier, not harder.

  1. Expose, expose, expose. It’s all about putting things in their life to show them the beauty of foods that nourish them. The more you give them and have them experience, the healthier foods they will eat.
  2. Cook ONE meal. So many women I talk to make or buy separate meal options for their kids. They are so focused on the child eating SOMETHING that they are willing to exhaust themselves cooking an entirely separate meal. (This does not apply to children with food allergies or intolerances) The dinner you cook is for your family. Everyone eats it. If your child chooses not to eat it, that is their choice. But there is nothing else offered. And after dinner is done, there is no other food. No snacks, no fruit, no string cheese, nothing. There will be things they legitimately won’t like (just like you have things). But the area of manipulation plays a hand in this and food is definitely a form of control for kids.
  3. Try again in a week. Maybe that day your son isn’t in the mood for broccoli. It happens to us as adults! He simply may not be in the mood for it or have the taste for it. Or maybe he had too much of it that week. So try again in a week or two. If his taste buds just don’t like it, try in a couple weeks but don’t give up. It can take over a dozen times for his palate to like it.
  4. Eat with your children. Sit down as a family and be the example of eating the wonderful food you prepared. Talk and connect. Laugh. Enjoy your food together. Without the TV, phones (have a phone basket that your kids put their technology in during dinner), or distractions. This goes for restaurants as well. It saddens me (I don’t judge b/c I get it) when I see a family at dinner with children all on their phones playing games or headphones and an Ipad on while eating dinner. Or dad on his phone with work. Or mom on Facebook or texting. Meals need to be a time of connecting. Reconnecting. I understand that you may want a peaceful dinner without your toddler needing your every 2 minutes but putting them on an Ipad isn’t the solution. Get a sitter so your child can have healthy play and interaction while you and your partner enjoy the quiet meal you want.
  5. Mindful eating and conversation. I love talking to Brooklyn about what certain foods do for her in a way she can understand. “This spinach will give you so much energy to play with your friends at school today!”
  6. Do not force if they don’t want or like it. I don’t make food a big deal. If she’s done, she’s done. I tell Brooklyn to listen to her body and when she’s full to stop. My goal for her is to try things once and I tell her she can always spit it out if she doesn’t like it. That it’s OK not to like something.
  7. “I Tried It!” card. Brooklyn has this card where she gets to put stars down for every new food she tries. When she gets to 10 stars, she gets to do something special with me or we head to the Dollar Store for an item.
  8. Do not reward eating healthy with eating crap. We grew up with this. You eat your dinner, you get dessert. Don’t counteract the healthy choice with an unhealthy choice. I’m all for dessert on occasion but it shouldn’t be the key to your child eating healthy.
  9. Get away from children’s menus at restaurants. I still don’t get this separate meal thing with kids. I wish that restaurants would offer “kid portions” of the same things that are on their menu for adults. So if I order a salmon entrée with freshly steamed veggies, I’d like to order one for her as well. I usually just give her some of my dinner as the portions at restaurants are ridiculous as it is. But why should children be eating overly processed and fried chicken fingers, refined grains and sauces loaded with sugar, carb-loaded options, along with no entrée options with vegetables (unless they offer veggie sides)? Most children’s meals at restaurants are disgusting in my opinion.
  10. Give them choices. With every meal, have at least one option you know that they love and try to give some options for them to choose a couple from. So have 3 veggie options for them for example. Or if you know she loves chicken, make that. Having at least one new item for them to try.

Still having challenges? Just reach out to me and we can talk it through. You don’t have to do this alone.


Michelle Mansfield Blog


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