“One meal…I would love that!” says every parent. I haven’t had a parent yet come into my office and not look relieved when I tell them the first thing we need to work on is serving the same meal for everyone. Every parent dreams of the day you cook one meal for your family and your kids do a good job filling up from what is served. As parents we have so many hats, but short order cook shouldn’t be one of those hats. My readers are so insightful and give me so much information everyday. Earlier this week, one of my readers reached out to me with this question. This is such an important question I asked her for permission to share.
“I have a question that has been on my mind for a while. I have a 2 year old son and I often offer a healthy meal at dinner, but there are times when my husband and I want something my son doesn’t usually like, or may be too spicy. For example, Buffalo chicken flatbread (made with celery and on wheat flatbread), or chilli ( which we don’t make very spicy, but he just doesn’t like it). In general, he isn’t a fan of one dish dinners, even one that seem to be healthy. So do I just accept that and make a healthy side item, a whole separate dinner, or just serve him what we are eating?”
1. Be considerate with out catering
Cooking something separate constitutes catering. However, cooking something that compliments the meals and allows the child to sneak up on a new food is being considerate. For example: serve with the Buffalo Flatbread…rolls, fruit and/or veggie as well as milk and butter. It’s not providing an entirely new meal, but rather food your child can fill up on. If all else fails and he eats only bread, butter, milk and fruit he will still get all the main macronutrients needed (protein, carbohydrate and fat).
I remember when my sister first asked me this question. Her daughter was about 12 months old and she and my brother-in-law were planning to eat hot wings for dinner. She followed my above advice and guess what happened, her daughter not only ate the hot wings, but loved them. It’s still one of her favorite foods. It’s important we don’t just assume that our children won’t eat these foods before we even give them a chance. It’s the power of positive thinking!
Remember, when following The Division of Responsibility of Feeding, it’s about trusting our children to do a good job at eating.
2. Keep serving the food
Don’t be afraid to serve a rejected food again and again. Did you know it could take up to 20 times of serving a food for a child to actually swallow the food? For anyone that follows me on Facebook, you may have seen the post a few weeks ago about my daughter. After over 1,000 days she FINALLY devoured some guacamole…or as she called it “green stuff.” It’s not for my lack of serving, actually, truth be told she used to love it as an infant and then rejected it as a toddler. Finally she has come back around to eating it.
As my reader said, her son isn’t excited about mixed meals right now. I don’t blame him, it’s hard to sneak up on foods when they are all mixed together. If you follow Tip #1 above, one day he may learn to like that chili, but it could be 1.000 days from now. In the meantime, keep serving it with food he can fill up on which compliments the main dish. For example rice, rolls, butter, fruit and/or veggie and milk would compliment chili just fine.
At the end of the day, when we can relax about feeding our children and just focus on getting one meal on the table with foods everyone can fill up on feeding and eating will go so much better!