Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Feeding Kids to Be “Normal” Eaters

If you’re a parent, you’re probably concerned about teaching your kids to be “normal” eaters. Of course, you wonder how you could possibly raise a child without food problems when you have them yourself and have been confused about eating for most of your life. Here are some tips to guide you.

First, off realize that it’s a myth that kids don’t like and won’t eat vegetables and that they crave only sugary, fat-laden treats. Please, it’s been in our DNA for hundreds of thousands of years to consume a plant-based diet. That’s most of what was available way back when and we’ve evolved fairly well eating fruits and vegetables. So, understand from the get go that most kids find nothing inherently wrong with them.   

According to “Getting your children to eat their veggies” (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 8/13/13), research supports the following rules: “Grown ups and kids eat the same foods, sit-down family meals are standard and picky eating simply isn’t tolerated. Parents need not resort to trickery to get their kids to eat their veggies.” Dr. Scott Gee, a pediatric obesity specialist, tells us that “Research shows that you have to offer a child a food an average of 10 to 12 times before [he or she] likes it.” Might be the same for you!

Based on this evidence, offer your children a bite of some food and back off if they’re not interested or refuse to eat it. Do this often enough without a great deal of emotional attachment to the outcome, and the kids will likely come around. This means encouraging without being pushy, shaming, punitive, or critical. It’s fine to ask your children what they don’t like about a food and see if you can modify it to be more tasteful. One example in the article is drizzling a tiny bit of honey on grapefruit.

Go by the one-bite guideline and model that behavior yourself. This means everyone at the table has to take at least one bite of a new food (and that means chewing and swallowing it, not tasting and spitting it out). Educate your children about which foods are nutritious and which aren’t and never (ever, ever) apply the words “good” and “bad” to food. These are moral concepts, and have nothing to do with food. Be clear about your expectations of your children’s eating. More importantly, remember that according to research, “modeling” positive eating behaviors is “among the most effective [strategies] in helping children develop healthy eating patterns.” One more reason to eat “normally” and healthfully. Make it a family goal that you’re all moving forward together. You don’t have to be perfect eaters to have a positive relationship with food.

When You Eat Makes a Difference
Don’t Overuse Your Emotions

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.