Why parents should ‘fix’ picky eating early

Why parents should ‘fix’ picky eating early

So my techy husband set up our television at home to function as a digital photo album when the screen is idle (i.e. when my girls aren’t watching Calliou or Frozen for the 20th time).   He’s also a photographer so I have the luxury of seeing beautiful family photos cycle through – photos that bring back mostly pleasant early parenthood memories. Although, the other day I caught a photo that didn’t spark those fond memories in the slightest.  It was a picture of Sienna looking unhappy at the table.  What you can’t see is her anxious mother (me) sitting nearby and wanting so desperately for her to eat more. Those were not my happier days. That photo sucked me in and brought me back to ‘those times’…when I shed tears at the table and truthfully was fearful of mealtimes.  I was a foodie and loved to cook/eat but living with a picky eater took the joy out of eating. It saddens me to think that I spent the better part of time together consumed with getting Sienna to eat better and worried about her nutrition (being a Nutritionist, I knew what she needed).  I worked so darn hard trying to expand her appetite and food favourites, but with no real plan…and no real results. While our wonderful pediatricians were telling us everything was “fine”, my mommy instinct was telling it was not ‘fine’. Sienna was far from fine (she was so unhappy at meals and not interested in food). I was far from fine (I was worried and emotionally exhausted from the constant food battles). I see and speak with so many parents who are in ‘my old shoes’ and I so...
5 reasons why kids are picky eaters (and what to do about it)

5 reasons why kids are picky eaters (and what to do about it)

Dear god, why won’t she just eat? That’s the question I asked myself daily a few years ago.  Actually, who’s kidding who.  I asked it every stinking time I put food in front of my little one.  She was underweight (major source of stress for me) and had zero interest in food.  I desperately wanted to know the reasons why kids are picky eaters and how to fix it. The most painful part was watching her eat (or not eat) next to other little kids her age.  Those moms were chatting away, sipping coffee, and smiling while their little ones noshed on a smorgasbord of food. No bribing, no trickery or iPads to distract them. They just ate. However, if those moms looked my way they would see an anxious mother, struggling to smile, while begging a little girl to have a bite. Just one bite of the meal I worked so hard to prepare.  The comparisons killed me.  And of course, while watching other kids with envy, that question became even more urgent. If I simply knew the reasons why kids became picky eaters, I could find ways to help her.  And, it would help me get through the mealtime misery. I was already a Certified Nutritionist and knew what to feed a smaller child with a limited appetite.  But I lacked what was even more important. I needed to know what was driving her picky eating, so I could determine how to approach meals. I wanted to be able to sit down at a table and feel 110% confident that I wasn’t ‘messing her up’ by bribing and begging her to eat.  Heck, even I have a few lingering food issues...
How to make quick and healthy snacks for kids

How to make quick and healthy snacks for kids

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with loads of awesome moms lately at local workshops with Mommy Connections, MumNet, and other “mommy groups”.  At every single one of those workshops, I can bet my bottom dollar that I will be asked this ONE QUESTION: What quick and healthy snacks can I give my kids [before bed, on the go, for school]? I’ll rhyme off a list of my favourite quick and healthy snacks for kids, often forgetting most of them.  So I thought it would be wise to get this list of snacks for kids down on ‘paper’ as a reminder for me and a reference for parents. Before I dive, let me step back and give you a few pointers: Food for Thought: Every snack should have some protein (or fat) to keep kids satiated longer, and those blood sugar levels stabilized.  In other words, a banana or a biscuit on its own isn’t sufficient.  You’ll feel satiated briefly and then the sugar cravings (and tantrums) will rush in. Include a veggie or fruit in all snacks for nutrient-density.  Crackers, bread, and cookies have their place but don’t offer the same nutrition bang for every bite. Quick and Healthy Snacks for Kids This mix & match list will help you crete quick & dirty clean healthy snacks for your kids (most with no cooking required)! Pick one of these 10 foods These foods contain mostly carbohydrates. Fresh fruit (berries, banana, melon, plum, pear, etc) Fresh cut veggies (peppers, cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, etc) Dried fruit (apple chips, banana chips, prunes, unsulfured apricots, mango, etc) Roasted nori sheets Crackers (TIP: choose a brand like Mary’s Crackers for more nutrition)...
Sneaky Spinach Muffins (without being sneaky at all)

Sneaky Spinach Muffins (without being sneaky at all)

If only our kids ate more green vegetables we wouldn’t have to go to crazy lengths, like making gluten-free “Spinach Muffins”. If you’ve seen my Picky Eating 101 Webinar you know my stance on getting sneaky in the kitchen.  It can totally work if the goal is to get our little ones to EAT something green.  On the other hand, it’s not an ideal strategy if we want our little ones to LEARN to like green stuff (or what it is). My girls have a well-rounded list of preferred foods, but spinach isn’t one of them.  No surprise there.  Geesh, I don’t even know a lot of adults who gush over raw greens of any variety (excluding my social circle of kale-obsessed nutritionist friends). If a child isn’t big on veggies, we start with the basics like these 5 great veggies for kids (and picky eaters).   And with these Spinach Muffins.   Admittedly I was nervous when I slid Sienna up to the counter to see my latest experiment.  Green Muffins. I worried that she would run away when she saw 4 cups of blended spinach going into the muffin batter, but instead she was intrigued by the bright green concoction. Even better, when they came out of the oven she willingly tasted these green muffins and happily ate one (although her expression below would suggest otherwise?). Spinach (like other raw greens) has a distinct texture making it difficult to chew for kids.  So finely chopping or blending spinach leaves into foods is a-ok…..if we Show our little ones we are putting green stuff in the blender Let our little ones help add greens to the blender (and...
Should we make separate meals for picky eaters?

Should we make separate meals for picky eaters?

Yes, our little ones are special.   Every single one of them!  But should we make special and separate meals for picky eaters? However, it doesn’t mean that moms and dads should go out of their way to make alternate meals just for them…and then have to whip up another meal to suit the rest of the family.  Let’s talk about how to handle separate meals for picky eaters. The survey says… 1 in 4 children who are “picky eaters” continue to be picky as adults.  In other words, 25% do not outgrow their reluctance to try new foods unless the right mealtime strategies are used. (Source).  And unfortunately, preparing the same few favourite foods and separate meals is one sure way to limit their exposure and ability to grow out of picky eating. So, from one mom (with a former picky eater) to another….I have to tell you that it’s super important we set our kids up for healthier eating habits sooner than later.  That’s exactly why I show parents exactly how to do this (step-by-step) in the 6-week online program - The Picky Eater Protocol. Alternate meals can backfire Pressure is one of the biggest reasons why our kids don’t eat well.  Often parents are surprised when I pinpoint things they innocently say or do.   Things that I did at most meals, unaware they were making things worse. Preparing separate meals for our picky eaters can actually put pressure on them to eat it.   Even more so if we say “Look what mom made JUST for you“.   The interpretation for most kids will be this:  “Gosh, mommy made this just for me.  That means I have to eat...
How to Meal Plan for Picky Eaters

How to Meal Plan for Picky Eaters

I have a few “mommy friends” who swear by meal planning, but I didn’t get what all the hype was about.  Nor did I want to add another “to do” to my ever-growing list. But there was no escaping it.  Meal planning was popping up on Pinterest, Facebook, mommy blogs, etc.  Everyone was meal planning and I was…struggling. The FOMO (fear of missing out) kicked in.   I wanted in on whatever miracles “meal planning” was bringing other moms. I am (or was) that mom who planned meals on the fly.  Frantically trying to decide what to make for Wednesday dinner on Wednesday morning.  My challenge wasn’t necessary making the meal.  It was the lack of a plan for those meals. So I jumped on the Meal Planning bandwagon for a taste of what everyone else was raving about. Meal Planning = Sanity Saving Having a plan has been liberating.   Especially when you have a little one who is a selective or picky eater. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making the SAME few recipes over and over and over.   That’s when the “short-term phase” of picky eating can evolve into a “long-term problem”.  Variety is crucial to their willingness to explore and try new foods.  And so is our approach at mealtimes - which doesn’t include bribing, saying one more bite, or throwing on the iPad.  All of the things I was guilty of doing in attempt to get Sienna to eat. I wish I knew then, what I know now My struggles with making meals were exacerbated because I was trying to get something…ANYTHING into my picky eater.  I was doing it all wrong, and that’s why I...