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  • Writer's pictureCathy Dyer

Stop Asking Your Kid What She Wants To Eat

Your kid is the least qualified person in your family to determine what will be eaten

If you routinely ask your child what she wants to eat, it's time for you to Parent Up.

It's a familiar pattern observed all too often in our hectic society. A baby is born and the parents dream of raising a perfect, healthy human being. The little one is carefully fed only the best/cleanest/organic foods, for a while at least, with great expenditures of time and attention from mom and dad.

Then idealism evolves into realism. The pressures of everyday life get in the way. The parents are busier than ever. They haven't established regular family meals and routine cooking, and didn't realize they needed to. They are taken aback when their little angel, now a testy two year old, says "NO!" to a food they provide. Stressed, tired, and unprepared for the challenge they ask the question that begins a downward spiral into a never-ending chicken nugget, mac n cheese, french fry nightmare: "What do you want to eat?"

Your kid is the least qualified person in your family to determine what will be eaten - so stop asking

It's your responsibility as a parent to decide what, when, and where your kid will eat. To develop a healthy relationship with food, your child needs you to decide to provide nutritious meals and snacks, at predictable times each day, in a positive environment where eating is a pleasure.

  • It's up to you to select and prepare nutritious foods for your child.

  • It's up to you to teach your child how to serve himself from the foods you have decided to provide.

  • It's up to you to establish predictable snack and meal times to provide your child the sense of food security that discourages overeating.

  • It's up to you to stop the grazing between snacks and meals so your child comes to the table with an appetite, ready to try different things.

  • It's up to you to create a positive mealtime experience where your child learns what a nutritious meal is and how to behave at the table.

It's NOT your job to be a short order cook, to negotiate with your child about meals, to beg or bribe her to eat, or to subject yourself to an increasingly limited menu of "kid approved" items.

Your child has just two jobs when it comes to eating. She decides whether she will eat the food you provide her, and how much of it she will eat.

  • It's up to your child to choose among the foods you offer.

  • It's up to your child to respectfully decline any foods she doesn't want.

  • It's up to your child to decide how much she will eat.

Do your job, and let your kid do hers. Set the right example. Take charge. Confidently nourish and nurture your family, and teach your child healthy habits that will last a lifetime. You'll both be a lot healthier, and happier.

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