There is a lot of information about this topic, and my hope is that I can provide you with some simple and easy to digest (no pun intended☺) information for you and your family.
Food is fun! – Make mealtime an extension of playtime: cookie cutters, toothpicks, chopsticks, and kid safe knives.
Get kids involved with cooking – Let kids help out with cooking and meal prep: Stirring, measuring out ingredients, and retrieving foods from fridge or pantry are a great way to get kids involved.
Don’t label food as “good” or “bad” – If certain foods are labeled as “bad”, that makes them that much more interesting to a kid. For example, cookies are foods that we sometimes eat, not rewards for cleaning our dinner plate or behaving at school.
Lead by example – If our children see us eating healthy foods, that will mean a lot more to them than lectures about eating veggies. We can also let our children learn by seeing how we bounce back when we don’t eat healthy. It’s ok if we make mistakes with our own food and eating habits, the important thing is to try and learn from the mistakes, so we don’t keep repeating them.
Encourage intuitive and intentional eating – Encourage children to listen to their bodies. For example, if a child eats past the point of being full, we can ask them simple questions such as: how are you feeling? are you tired? etc. Let kids start to listen to and understand their hunger and full cues. We are working on teaching our children to listen to their bodies, and not feel guilty if they occasionally eat unhealthily.
Eat together without distractions – Eat meals together at a consistent time and start to incorporate a routine of discussing everyone’s day or asking what everyone’s “high and low” of the day was – this is a great bonding experience. Try to avoid distractions like phones, TVs, or Tablets. Allowing screen time during meals makes it hard to establish good eating habits. Children are more likely to eat quickly and eat past the point of being full when they are distracted by screens.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to share any strategies you find that work well for your child.
See you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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