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Use This Simple Method to Head Off Eating Problems Before They Start

Colleen Kitchen

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Healthy children are naturally hungry children. It is only when they are sated that they begin to notice that their feeding habits can produce predictable results in the adults around them. Why do you suppose the toddler throws all the toys out of the pen? To make you pick them up, of course! And why does he refuse to eat his oatmeal? To watch the show you put on and get attention! The attention trip is so addictive that a child will ignore his natural hunger for a long time-an incredibly long time-if he can assert his power over you. If the child is never allowed to feel truly hungry, he can continue the power trip indefinitely, and build very unhealthy eating habits on the way.

Young children are naturally attracted to sweet foods and soft bland foods that are easy to chew. If their palates haven't been overstimulated by sweets, they will probably enjoy carrots, cooked cereal, sweet potatoes, fruit, and fresh sweet cooked vegetables. They dislike strong flavors, spicy foods, and anything that is too tough for their little teeth to bite through. Of course they will prefer the sweetest foods, that is why these should be offered LAST. Keep this in mind as you prepare food for your toddler. If you want to use any commercially prepared baby food, taste it before you try to feed it to your little one. If it tastes gross to you, it will probably taste disgusting to him too. Bland, however, is all right.

As a child myself I could have easily been a picky eater. I think eating problems could have happened along the way for me, but I believe my mom headed off the problems before they ever happened. I dealt with mealtimes with my kids the way my mother dealt with me. As a result, none of my children are picky eaters.

My mom grew up during the depression and sometimes there was not enough food. As a result of that, she knew that a little hunger would not kill you. When I came along and things were somewhat better, mom took the following tack: She put small portions of several types of healthy food in front of me with no comment and let me pick what I liked. There was no pressure to eat. I could have seconds if there was any. When I was done, the plate was removed. If she saw that I had eaten a decent amount of healthy food, a small dessert would be offered. If not, golly gee, there just didn't seem to be any dessert.

I would go on binges, eating vast quantities of peanut butter one week, followed by pears or lettuce or pickles the next. Sometimes, I didn't “like" anything, or just plain wasn't hungry. If I asked for “something else" I was told: this is what is for lunch, take it or leave it. If I didn't eat enough at one meal (pay attention: this is the crucial step!) there was absolutely nothing offered until the next meal. Oh yes, I can remember having what we called “hungry" belly-aches. How I begged for and crackers and cheese at 3:00 p. m. when I hadn't been interested in my lunch! This is the point when most of today's parents cave in. How cruel it is listen to that precious little darling cry about being hungry and not do anything about it for three whole hours. But my mom was a tough cookie. She remembered being hungry and being none the worse for it, and she would tell me what we were going to have for dinner and ask me if I wanted to help cook it. (How old was I? Four?) You bet I was there to help. I might get to sneak a taste of something! And I learned to cook at a very young age, I might add!

I applied this same technique to my own four youngsters, and although they have different preferences, they all eat a decent variety of the food groups. Not one of them used food as a power trip, because they never had the chance.

Colleen Kitchen and the Kitchen sisters share food lore, jokes, sustainability tips and recipes at Dork Chow . Colleen invites you to see her other family articles on Hub Pages This article is not a teaser to get you to buy some lame ebook. It is all here. You're welcome.


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