It wasn’t that long ago that our family made the switch from eating a highly processed diet of convenience foods to an all natural diet. I first decided to make the changes because of my daughter’s ADHD-like symptoms, but became ever more determined to make the changes after researching the common additives in processed foods for myself. (Read more about our reasons in the 6 Week Challenge.)
I knew I was ready for a change, but my daughter had always been a severely picky eater. I didn’t know what to expect from her once I took away her favorite cookies and crackers. In the weeks before I instituted the changes I read loads of articles and books on strategies for picky eaters. I’ve pulled together a lot of information, but to be honest it’s still a never-ending trial and error experiment in our house. I know there are throngs of other moms who struggle as well. So this is the first in a series of Picky Eater Strategies where I’ll share some of the things that have worked well for us, and hopefully you’ll share some things as well.
One of the most important things to establish with a child who has food issues is trust. They need to know that when you push them to try something new it’s not going to cause them whatever harm they may be imagining in their small but imaginative little minds.
To establish trust with Sophie I sat down with her and explained why we needed to stop eating all the processed foods we had previously survived on, and begin eating more natural foods so we could all feel healthier. I used words and phrases she could understand. I told her I wouldn’t make her eat anything that could hurt her or make her sick – pinkie swear.
So, we started very slowly. I picked things that she had some previous experience with but just didn’t eat on a regular basis. Watermelon is a good example – she loved it the few times she’d eaten it, but it wasn’t something I served regularly. Once we had established trust with watermelon I moved on to things she she didn’t like, but I had a hunch she would accept if she ever actually tried them. The next thing we tried was carrots. With Sophie, texture seems to be more important than the taste for most things, so this was a good step. After a few tentative days of eating a few bites of carrots, they became accepted as a normal snack.
Again, we moved very slowly through different foods and I try very hard to only make her eat things I feel she would eventually like if given the chance. I always invite her to try everything though. Some things have been liked right away, and some things still haven’t been accepted. But at least when I ask her to try something new she no longer flops on the floor and wails like she’s been struck from behind by some invisible force. That’s a big deal around here.
Now it’s your turn – do you have any ideas to share about introducing your child to a new food for the first time?
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