A Practical Guide To Healthy Living
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Category — Guest Posts

Selective Eaters: Survival Tips

picky eater pic

Forget the “war on terror” for a minute.  Is your kitchen table a combat zone?  If your answer is yes, even sometimes, read on.  Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietitian and mom, weighs in on one of the most vexing issues for parents everywhere . . . how to deal with a picky eater. 


Your toddler’s on a two-month run of wanting only peanut butter and jelly on white bread with the crusts cut-off – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Perhaps your five year-old refuses to try any new food. Or, your child barely touches his food at mealtimes, much to your chagrin.

While selective (a.k.a. picky) eating and a poor appetite are more common among the younger set, preschoolers and younger school children are not immune. Question is, how should you deal with a child who turns up his nose at novel foods, demands the same foods at every meal, or who eats like a bird, without getting completely aggravated?

First of all, don’t take a child’s behavior personally. Rejecting new foods, or the balanced, well-planned meals you make, has nothing to do with you or your parenting skills.  Hard to believe when you’re in the middle of a “food fight,” but true.

Here are some other strategies that may help you better handle erratic eating in your youngster.    

Banish grazing.  As much as possible, schedule meals and snacks for your child to better regulate his appetite. I don’t recommending complete rigidity, but children need to know that eating occurs at about the same time every day. When your child doesn’t finish his meal, save the rest for later; rest assured, he’ll be hungry in an hour or two. Don’t allow your son or daughter to graze on so-called snack foods (Goldfish, anyone?) between meals, and don’t let him or her cruise around all day with a sippy cup of water, milk, or juice within arm’s reach. 

Let kids make (healthy) choices. Allowing kids to make choices increases their interest in eating. Let them choose between a banana or an apple; whole wheat bread or whole grain cereal; or green beans and carrots. They may pick the same foods over and over, but that will eventually stop, hopefully before you’ve been driven completely crazy. 

Understand their resistance to new foods. Children spend their days learning and mastering new skills like walking, running, climbing, and talking, and are so consumed by novel experiences and sensations that they often don’t want any surprises on their plates. That may be why a child latches on to favorite foods to the exclusion of new ones.  Don’t worry. It won’t last forever.

• Serve new foods early in the day.  Children get tired as the day wears on, and being confronted with a new food may be the last straw for a worn-out toddler or preschooler.  Serve children something new at breakfast or lunch or just after a nap, when they are well-rested, and hungrier. 

Keep trying new foods.  Always serve a small amount of a new food alongside your child’s favorites. Expect to serve that food at least 15 times before your child accepts it, or even acknowledges it.  Encourage them to try it, but don’t go overboard.

Put on your best Poker Face.  Kids crave attention, even when it’s negative. When you get upset when your child rejects a food or won’t eat and you’re tempted to show your emotions, don’t.  Older toddlers in particular are fast learners. They remember that refusing to eat what you put on their plate, or demanding the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner pushes mommy’s buttons! And they’ll push those buttons, over and over.

Elizabeth Ward is a registered dietitian, mother of three, and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler.  Visit her at: www.expectthebestpregnancy.com.

February 4, 2010   3 Comments

Guest Post: Play More, Eat Less

kids on water slide 

In today’s guest post, Daniel Max reminds us that we can take the emphasis off food by finding something that really engages us . . . .


Do you remember being a child and getting so wrapped up in creative play that you didn’t want to stop when it was time to eat or left your meal half-finished to get back to your game? Children innately understand that food is secondary to what is most nutritious and primary in life: fun and play.

As adults we seem to have lost our instinct to prioritize play. In our busy world, with its emphasis on work and responsibility, in order to be healthy and balanced we must work on more than just our bodies; we must feed our hearts, minds and spirits.

When our body, mind and spirit are engaged in a creative project or happy relationships, our reliance on food may appear to decrease. Likewise, when unsatisfied with relationships, job or other areas of our life, we often depend on food to cheer, soothe or numb us. When our life is out of balance, no amount of food can feed us where we truly need nourishment. The food that we eat is very important for health and balance, but what really feeds us-a full and fulfilling life-doesn’t come on a plate.

Putting things that excite us on hold for the sake of responsibilities may at times be good logic yet we often make these decisions from a place of fear rather than good sense. “If I’ll lose weight, then I’ll start swimming/ buy new clothes/ start yoga….”   Let’s do the things we want to do NOW. Any statement containing “if I achieve__then I’d be happy” never holds truth and brings nothing but dissatisfaction. While our future goals are a motivation to better ourselves, they do not hold back our happiness. Finding a peaceful pleasure in our current state of being will motivate us to progress from a sense of ease. We stop working away from what we don’t want and work towards moving towards what we do want.

Create a positive attitude and wonderful environment around you and enjoy the process of becoming healthier and happier every step of the way!

Have fun. If going to the gym is a “chore” then try a yoga or dance class instead. Find a way to play while moving your body. If by deciding to eat healthy you are mostly focused on what to restrict, shift your focus to all the new foods and flavors you get to incorporate and explore.

What is fun for you? What makes you light up and excites you? Make time for it this week. Even if you don’t have much time for fun, try approaching a “serious” activity with an attitude of play. This can greatly reduce stress and anxiety and bring more pleasure to your day. Take your focus off food, try adding more fun into your life and watch the magic unfold. 

Daniel Max headshotDaniel Max is a Nutrition and Health Counselor, Life & Wellness Coach, Massage Therapist specializing in Shiatsu, and a Yoga Instructor. Providing an integrative approach to naturally reclaim control of your health, Daniel offers an initial hour-long consultation. Gaining a greater perspective on your health, this session includes a full discussion of your health history and health goals, a chance to get your questions answered and establish your first steps in creating a personalized health program, completely catered toward your lifestyle and needs. Consultations are available either by phone or in person.  To Learn more about Daniel and his services, visit www.MaxSenseOfSelf.com.

January 26, 2010   No Comments

Guest Post: Finding Joy In Jill

Today I’m proud to announce my first guest blogger, Jill Feldman.  Jill’s going to tell us about a passion of hers, Nia – a workout, lifestyle and personal growth program all rolled into one. Many, including Jill, have found that Nia’s a fabulous way to condition, heal and transform the body, mind and spirit.

Maybe Jill will inspire you to try Nia?  It can be incredibly refreshing for your body and your mind to take up a new form of exercise after many years of doing the same ol’ thing.  I’m going to try it out and I’ll keep you posted – Jill is going to lead me in a special Nia session adapted to my current zero weight-bearing exercise restrictions . . . yes, you can even do Nia in a chair!  [Read more →]

October 14, 2009   No Comments