Take the Fight out of Food - Start with your Picky Eater

In honor of Nutrition Month, Chickapea Pasta joined the pledge to “Take the Fight Out of Food” with the Dietitians of Canada and what better place to start than with Picky Eaters!

Did you shift somehow into the role of a line cook in your own kitchen? Do you prepare separate meals for all the discerning tastes, hoping to get nutritional food into all those who dine at your table? If you said yes, rest-assured, you’re not the only one. At Chickapea we often get emails and comments about children and their picky eating habits. Thankfully they love Chickapea pasta!

When mentioning picky eaters, a lot of heads start shaking and the stories start flying.  Your kitchen is not a restaurant and well… they aren’t paying you to feed them! That said, as a parent, it’s instinct to want what’s best for your children so we’ve put together some tips from nutritional experts to help bring back an enjoyable family dinner time with one meal.

This is one food fight that’s not fun but you can start making the change! Teach your kids to enjoy their relationship with food with these helpful suggestions by Sarah Remmer, R.D. and child family nutrition expert, who practices what she teaches in her own home, based on The Satter Feeding Dynamics Model.

She suggests setting healthy mealtime boundaries by establishing appropriate rules and maintain consistency so you can regain control. Parents should be in charge of what is served, where it is served and when it’s served. Let your kids be in charge of whether they eat and how much they eat. Easier said than done right? But if you start at an early age it makes it easier down the road.

Sarah established these mealtime boundaries in her home:

  1. Everyone must come to the table for meals and remain at the table until at least 10-15 minutes have passed and must ask to be excused.
  2. There are no toys, screens, or other distractions at meals. It’s for family time and discourages mindless/distracted eating.
  3. Mealtime manners must be followed such as sitting properly at the table, no rude comments about the food (I hate this, for example) and using appropriate utensils.
  4. There is only one meal served with a lot of variety and always one item that the kids like.
  5. The kitchen is closed after mealtimes are done. Remind your kids, if you feel they didn’t eat enough, that it’s a good idea to make sure their tummies are satisfied because the kitchen will be closed until a certain time or the next morning. Requests or demands for snacks outside of these times are gently turned down, with a reminder that they had a chance to eat at the last meal or snack, and they chose not to. Over time, kids learn how to regulate their appetite healthfully this way.
  6. No grazing. Snack time is planned based on when meal times are held. The younger the children, who need to eat often, warrant opportunities every 2-3 hours. Grazing often spurs on mealtime battles.

Sarah says, “These are our personal mealtime boundaries and might work well for your family too. Know that each family is unique and you should tailor your own guidelines to what works for you and your family.” You can read the full article on her blog and many other helpful eating tips for kids.

Is your mood affecting eating habits? It’s always more enjoyable to eat when you’re happy than stressed or upset. Nathalie Regimbal, MSc RD says the atmosphere can relate to picky eating and suggests to keep mealtimes pleasant because sometimes the mood in which it’s served can have an affect too! She recommends keeping the conversation light and take pleasure in tasting and discovering new foods and over time, your children will start to imitate your behavior. Don’t talk about picky eating while at the dinner table. You have more influence than you think.

With all of this in mind, enjoy food with your children – have fun and they will too. They may even forget they’re eating healthy food! And while you’re at it, Chickapea pasta is a great way to incorporate protein and fiber into those cherished little ones. So enjoy and Take the Fight out of Food and your kitchen!