Leah Hackney is a registered dietitian who has always had a passion for pediatrics and helping families. When she was working at a children's hospital in Texas, Hackney realized that a lot of nutrition problems she was seeing could've been prevented or reversed if only parents had the right information.
With nutrition-related health problems on the rise, Hackney wanted to create a medium to help parents who really valued the relationship their kids have with food and their bodies. So, in 2019, she started an Instagram account.
"My Instagram feed is a judgment-free place where you can find easy tips on how to help your child add variety to their diet, implement mindful eating behaviors, mealtime strategies, and relevant information on feeding your infant, toddler or adolescent," Hackney told Bored Panda.
More info: Instagram
Have you wondered if you should “sneak” foods into your kids meals? My response will probably be “Well is your child extremely picky?” If the answer is “yes they are picky”, then my answer is “No, don’t sneak.” I’ve had some client’s that I’ve worked with say “but they eat it if I add it to their muffins or smoothies!” My response to them is: there’s a difference between intentionally sneaking, and just openly preparing a meal and adding foods together for a recipe. Adding ingredients together is different than “sneaking.” With extremely picky eaters, our intentions matter around food. Kids are receptive to when we have altered food with the intent of “tricking” them into eating it. If they feel like we are forcing them to eat strange new food, or that we are taking away their choices, sneaking will backfire. They may even refuse everything at that meal! However, when we are preparing food openly and honestly, they see what it is made of, and are more likely to trust us. If they trust that we aren’t “tricking them” into eating something, they may become curious and start trying new foods... Tips that help picky eaters become curious around new food: -Have them press the blend button or stir ingredients -Explain the ingredients you are using, where they came from, what they taste like
Her posts deal with pretty much everything, from using baby-led feeding techniques so babies can learn to eat independently to concise explanations on how to reverse picky eating. "The philosophy of my page is based around the importance of fostering a positive relationship with food for long-term wellness, from infancy through adulthood," Hackney said, adding that her Instagram account also allows parents to ask her all kinds of nutrition questions and to inquire about booking her services.
If you start following the dietitian, you will probably notice her mention 'intuitive eaters' pretty soon.
"Many babies are born with the natural ability to eat according to their hunger and fullness cues. This means they naturally show signs of when they are hungry and can eat enough for their body’s needs. They physically express signs of hunger (rooting, crying, reaching for the bottle/breast), as well as physically showing signs of fullness (pushing the bottle away, playing with food, etc). The skills to be able to eat intuitively are commonly inherent at birth," Hackney explained.
Drop a brocolli for kids eating new foods! I get the question almost every day "how do I get my kid to eat veggies?" Parents say "I offer them every day, but they refuse before they've even tried it!" First, I want to say you're doing a great job! Kids have big feelings about things, and it doesn't always make sense to us. Sometimes they can't always express what's really bugging them about the food! One way to prevent food refusal: -Serve one food you know they LOVE -Offer small portions. Think you're giving small portions already? Go smaller. Now again, SMALLER. If they want more, they can ask for more! -Keep it cool whether they eat it or not These tips are so much easier said than done! It's important for families to find meal strategies that work for THEM.
"As parents and guardians, we can guide kids in preserving their ability to listen to their bodies' needs around food. This starts with baby-led feeding techniques where parents can respond to their babies' feeding cues. After the baby is weaned, the parents' role in feeding is to decide when the food is served, what food is served, and where it is served."
The child's role in feeding is to determine if and how much they eat the food that is offered. "This common feeding philosophy is known as the 'Division of Responsibility' and was created by Ellyn Satter. It has proven to support kids in learning their body's hunger and fullness cues, which leads to being able to eat intuitively as adults."
But due to misinformation and a general lack of knowledge, parents can screw up their kid's diet quite easily. "One of the biggest mistakes parents make in wanting to raise intuitive eaters is thinking that letting kids snack all day and giving unlimited access to any and all foods is 'intuitive eating'. Sometimes 'grazing' just happens because of life, right? This is especially true on summer breaks, vacations or most recently because of a higher number of people staying home due to COVID-19," Hackney said.
So you’re heading to the fridge to get things ready for a snack or meal. You know that they haven’t been eating as much variety, and you are starting to get concerned that they are only eating certain foods over and over again. You know it probably won’t go well, but you call out anyway “what do you want to eat?” Your little one pauses, and says EXACTLY what you thought they would. It’s the same food that you make every day, because you know they will eat it. But today, you’re trying to break the cycle, so you say “No we aren’t having that we are having ____.” Then comes the tantrum and the tears…Finally you cave and make the food anyway, and feel so frustrated and defeated.Do you relate to this? Parents, you are not alone, this story is so common!One thing that could’ve prevented this food battle is: Remember YOUR roles in feeding. Your job is to decide what food is being offered.To prevent food battles, be considerate in what you offer: Offer 1 food you know they love, and another they may still be learning. For example: they LOVE bananas and are learning blueberries. Say: “Would like bananas or blueberries with your snack?” I teach parents how to avoid food battles and feed their kids confidently, so they grow to be adventurous eaters. If you are wanting to confidently feed your little one, apply to work with me with the link in my bio- I’m currently accepting new clients.
"However, when we implement a flexible meal schedule, it actually supports kids in preserving their ability to eat intuitively, meaning they develop gentle hunger, which is important for them to experience so that they come to mealtime ready to eat. They then can eat according to what feels right for their body. This is called interoceptive awareness."
Another mistake parents may make is (unintentionally) pressuring kids to eat or not eat. "Many kids love their body autonomy from a young age, and there’s a lot of research that shows when parents pressure kids to consume a certain amount of food, it may backfire. Focusing on the amount a child eats or doesn’t eat can create negative associations with certain foods and kids may resist eating that food."
Hackney said that part of raising intuitive eaters is for parents to provide the food and then let the kids decide if they are hungry or full. It usually takes a lot of coaching and practice to build a trusting relationship between parents and their kids around food, though.
Drop a tomatoe for tomatoes! Where are all my tomato lovers at?? Okay so I have to admit, I really didn’t like tomatoes for a long time. For like 20 years…Growing up I thought they were strange, mushy, flavorless, and they didn’t agree with me. I would eat pizza sauce, ketchup, spaghetti sauce but NOT an actual tomato. Sound familiar? One day, I was helping my mom pick some cherry tomatoes that she grew in her garden. For some strange reason (I still don’t understand why), I had an urge to try one. I LOVED it! Now, do I LOVE every tomato I taste? No. Some are still flavorless, mushy, and strange. HOWEVER, I am much more likely to try them because I’ve been around them a lot, and I had a positive experience with a few. This is the same for kids! It takes time! I hope it doesn’t take 20 years for your little one to learn to like a food, but I want to encourage you to not give up. You got this! It can be frustrating when they constantly refuse, but keep my tomato story in mind. The more kids are around and familiar with certain foods, the more likely they are motivated to try it. If you are feeling burned out from your child rejecting new foods, and are looking for strategies that WORK to raise an adventurous eater, apply to work with me.
Interestingly, intuitive eating was coined by two dietitians, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. They have a book on how adults can implement a mindful framework to help heal their relationship with food. It has 10 different principles that interconnect to make eating a full mind-body connection that supports sustainable wellness. "It is not a diet," Hackney highlighted. "Intuitive eating is actually helping people get back to 'normal' eating, like how they did as a child. It supports body satisfaction, better body image, learning when you are satisfied with food versus needing more to eat. Intuitive Eating supports Ellyn Satter's work with the 'Division of Responsibility' and is a gold standard in Pediatric Feeding practices."
While a majority of children are born with the natural ability to eat intuitively, some may require more support and professional coaching. "Raising children who are intuitive eaters can be challenging, but it is a passion of mine," Hackney said.
I’ve seen this myth go around, and I wanted to clear it up!I was talking to a mom and she mentioned that someone had told her to not offer fruit first, because then baby will only want sweet foods! She was concerned about which foods to offer, and when.It isn’t proven that babies will only want sweet things if they eat fruit first.Breastmilk and formula are naturally a bit sweet, so babies are already used to sweet tastes!One thing I like to teach families is:-There are no rules on what foods you HAVE to offer at a certain time of day for baby.-There is no reason to be scared to offer fruit to baby, babies can learn to like all different flavors.You can serve veggies or fruit at any time of day, breakfast, lunch or dinner. As long as you are following baby’s hunger and fullness cues, there are no specific guidelines on what foods you should serve before you offer others.I help families sort through all the nutrition myths when it comes to feeding their little ones, so they can relax and know their baby is getting all of their nutrition.
Does your child ask for sweets all the time? You won’t see me villanizing sugar around here! I believe all foods can fit into a balanced meal pattern.Yes, we don’t want kids to only be consuming sugar, and we know that large amounts are not supportive of our little ones health or teeth. That being said, I like to teach families how to handle sweets. Kids are amazing at tuning into their bodies hunger and fullness cues when we let them. Sometimes we do just need to guide them! It’s really common for kids who have been restricted from sweets to fixate and overeat once they are exposed to them again. A big mistake I see parents making is then restricting the sweets after they have “overeaten” them. This can cause kids to fixate and obsess over sweets, which may lead to food battles. One way to prevent that? Serve sweets with a meal. That way all foods are presented equally. This way, they can learn to listen to their bodies needs and have a healthy relationship with all foods. If you are concerned about your child developing unhealthy habits around food let’s work together. I can help you go from concerned to stress-free by finding strategies that help your little one learn to have a healthy relationship with ALL foods.
Were you ever told this growing up? I know I was! A lot of what I was told growing up was passed down from many generations of eating. Parents may unintentionally pressure little ones into eating food because it may work in the short term. But for many families struggling with a selective eater, it may backfire! I’ve had so many families who struggle with a selective eater tell me that they are at their wits end because “how will they ever try it if we don’t tell them to!?” First, we want kids' experiences at the table to be positive so they develop a positive association with the food we eat! Sometimes when we take the pressure off of eating a specific food, I swear magic happens.Second, by acknowledging their feelings, AND that they are still learning it, we are helping them develop a growth mindset around that food.That food is something your family eats, so they will see it often. Helping them have an open-mind about it can really make a difference!I help families go from stressful to peaceful meal times, so they can enjoy eating as a family again. If you are looking for guidance on how to implement strategies that work to support your little one in becoming an adventurous eater, apply to work with me.
Drop your little ones favorite sweet! Sweets have been a hot topic lately. I find parents get sooo stressed out about them! I have many parents in my DMs say “I just feel like my little one is obsessed with sweets, but I don’t want to be too restrictive, how do I handle that?” First, let me say, there’s so much fear mongering around sweet foods! I get it, we don’t want that to be ALL our little one eats, because we know that isn’t supportive of their overall wellness.However, YOU as the parent get to decide when you serve them. That will look different for every family and every family's culture/traditions.I recommend doing what you can to neutralize these foods, so your little one grows up being able to listen to their hunger/fullness cues around them.Using descriptive language when presenting sweets, helps take them off a pedestal:-”This is chocolate, it tastes sweet”-”This is a cookie, it is soft and chewy” Sometimes depending on the situation, YOU also get to decide if there’s enough for more or not. Every family is different, and serving sweets doesn’t have to be stressful.I help parents navigate having a plan for serving sweets that works for their family, and supports their little one to learn balance. If you are wanting to feel confident in serving a variety of foods to your little one so they can grow up to have a positive food relationship, apply to work with me.
It can be SOOO frustrating when you take the time to plan a meal, prep it, and then get everyone together to enjoy it, only to be met with a loud “YUCK” from your child. Parents I get it, those “YUCKS” can really take you to your wits end. Then after the initial sting of rejection, I find parents tell me that they feel lost on how to respond or what to do next…The words we choose to use around a hesitant or selective eater can make a big difference. Usually the child is saying “YUCK” but what they may mean is, “I’m not comfortable with that food yet.” Or, they may not know how to express that they would like something to be different on their plate. What is one way we can help them get comfortable with a food they say “yuck” to? Ask: “What would make it better?” Then: give them two options like a sauce, seasoning, or having it cut differently etc. Having these options builds trust with your child, so they are more likely to try new foods. It’s also so important to learn how to communicate what would help them feel better about the food.
I’ve been getting TONS of questions regarding food throwing, and what to do about it. It’s super frustrating! Especially when we as parents/guardians are trying to eat as well, and suddenly half the meal is on the ground.
Here are some tips that have helped me and my clients navigate this behavior:
1. Minimize distractions: Keep pets in another room as long as you can, and turn the TV off.
2. Don’t react: This one is super hard! Keep in mind babies are learning about cause and effect. If you give a big reaction, it may encourage them to keep the behavior going. The calmer you are, the more likely they are to realize that they won’t get the reaction they are wanting from you.
3. Explain your expectations: Babies won’t know what behavior you want from them, if you don’t express your expectations clearly, calmly and consistently. Using physical tools and hand motions helps! For example: putting a colored piece of tape on the table you can point to it and say “plate goes here.” Pointing to the plate you can say “Food goes here.” Repetition and consistency is important!
4. Implement a “no thank you bowl”: Swipe to see how to implement a “no thank you bowl”. I love this because it lets your child express their body autonomy in a healthy and positive way. This helps keep their behavior positive by providing them a place to put their unwanted food.
5. Start with smaller portions: This may seem like common sense, but the smaller the portions, the less there is to throw! When they finish their portions you can offer more! If they continue throw food, repeat steps 1-4.
6. They may be signaling that they are done eating! If this is happening often, it may time to evaluate if you need to adjust meal times so they come to that meal ready to eat. Also, don’t be afraid to end the meal.If you are wanting guidance on HOW to feed your little one, apply to work with me. Click the link in my bio, so you can stop stressing about meal times, and start enjoying your little one meeting milestones.
I don’t want anyone to feel guilty if they have been saying something like this! It’s what we were told growing up, but it doesn’t have to be how we teach kids how to eat. I had a client tell me that her parents would bribe her to eat her veggies. She disliked the pressure to eat them so much, that eventually she said “I never wanted to eat that veggie again”. It took her years to finally want to try them again, so you could say that kind of mealtime pressure backfired.... My client wanted to make sure that her kiddo didn’t feel the same guilt and pressure at meals, so they could have a healthy relationship with all foods. I worked with her to come up with a phrase she felt comfortable with that didn’t create any negative associations around food. She felt so relieved that she had a clear plan on how to support her kids in trying new foods without creating disordered eating. What helps raise intuitive eaters:-No food bribes-Describing new foods clearly-No pressure to eat the new foods ..
I have so many parent’s in my DMs every day concerned about how much their little one is eating and their growth. It really does vary from baby to baby, and parents’ concerns about this are totally valid! As a worried parent being told “food before 1 is just for fun,” just isn’t that helpful.Advice like this makes me go. I think years ago when we didn’t have a lot of research on infant feeding and infant nutrition, it may have seemed like a legitimate saying. Plus so many parents may think, “well they aren’t eating much, so how can it really be helping?”Let’s debunk this myth! Food given to baby is SOOO much more than just “fun” or “playtime”Food before 1 helps baby: - Meet multiple growth and development milestones-Meet their nutrition needs ( like Iron!)-Because Introducing the top 8 allergens early and often (specifically peanuts, and eggs) can reduce the risk of food allergiesAND SO MUCH MORE!Learning to eat is a skill that takes time! I encourage parents and guardians to find the little wins, and get support when needed. Every opportunity to eat, is an opportunity for them to learn, grow and develop If you are stressed about your little ones’ growth and nutrition, and are looking for guidance on HOW to confidently feed your little one, apply to work with me.
Hands up if you’ve been stuck in an old mindset! I know I have! When I would serve food, I used to think “why won’t they just EAT IT.” At the next meal, I would think “ How can I GET them to eat it??” I would unintentionally say something that would pressure them into taking a bite… Then a food battle would start, and when my efforts didn’t work, I thought it was all my fault. I was tired of the hamster wheel of meal fights. I was focusing on the short term: getting them to eat the food, that very moment. What I really needed was to think about the long term - Which is their relationship to that food, and how I could support it. Helping kids build a positive relationship with food requires a lot of patience, exposure, and loads of trust. Sometimes it means that we as parents and guardians need to focus only on what we can control (what food is served, and when it’s served), and build trust that with time kids will get curious about food. Kids make decisions around food based on their past experiences with eating. Those food decisions or rejections CAN change. Think about it this way: is there a food you like as an adult that you didn’t like as a kid? Maybe once it was served a different way, you were able to try it? Then eventually you liked it? We won’t ever know if a kid will try something, if we don’t serve it. Switch it up of course, and be kind! Kids are entitled to their food preferences. There will be foods, they just don’t like, but it doesn’t have to be a battle.
First let’s get rid of any judgement around snack foods! I have so many parents come to me asking for help and tips because they say they feel like “bad” parents or like they “aren’t doing a good job” when their kid requests snacks frequently.I want you to give yourself some grace! These foods can be a part of a kids diet in a way that supports their health and also teaches them how to learn to listen to their bodies needs.If kids were in charge of what goes on their plate it would be common for their plates to look like the picture on the left. Then, parents may get stuck serving the same foods over and over again, and kids pickiness may increase.It’s important for kids to see and experience a variety of foods, textures and tastes at most meals.One thing I teach parents is that you are in charge of:-WHAT food is being served.So when kids are asking for snacks all day, you can determine how to be considerate to their requests. I know it’s hard because we want them to eat and not go hungry. However, catering to every request doesn’t teach them real life skills such as patience, compromise, and resilience when things don’t immediately go their way.Being considerate without catering to their (snack) demands looks like saying:- “I like that snack too, let’s build a plate that will help us stay full until our next meal….”-”I hear that you want ___, right now we also have ___ on the menu”-”Look at all the colors on your plate! Let’s name them!”Every food request doesn’t have to turn into a struggle! When parents are able to implement realistic strategies that build trust and support their picky eater to try new foods, it can be such a relief!I teach my clients to find strategies that WORK for their families to reduce picky eating so they can move from being cautious to curious eaters. If you are wanting 1:1 guidance so you can stop stressing about your little ones eating patterns and start enjoying mealtime again, click the link in my bio.
You’re tired, but you still managed to get food on the table. You really just want to make it through mealtime without a battle with your little one. You set the food on the table, and hear “I DON’T WANT THAT, I WANT A COOKIE.” Commence the food battle and tantrum. It takes everything in you to not lash out, and you feel so defeated. Does this resonate with you? You are not alone! When toddlers reject our meals, it can feel PERSONAL and exhausting. When a client comes to me with this struggle, one of the first things we work on is loving boundaries. This looks different for every family! Together we work through if the request is reasonable, or boundary pushing, and then move forward with what works for the family. So why not just give them the cookie? Well, it’s really up to you to decide! Sometimes it’s a reasonable request, other times it’s not. You know your child best! By saying “not right now” you are still saying yes. It’s just not the yes they may be looking for. Which is why it’s important to acknowledge the big feelings that come with that to help ease the current tantrum. Accepting and acknowledging big feelings means: -Kids can learn compromise and patience -Parents have a plan to maneuver inevitable tantrums
Double For the hesitant eater, saying “you don’t have to eat it” can help take the pressure off of eating. I’ve even seen kids start eating the food right after I’ve said that! Whenever, I offer this phrase as a meal strategy, I almost always have clients tell me "my kid would literally just refuse to eat if I said that." Usually these families are struggling with their child's selective eating. I had one client say "My son would think he doesn't have to eat the meal at ALL". She would end up in a food battle, make a second meal, and feel so worn down. That's when I told her; you don’t have to use this phrase for every meal. Part of what I taught her was WHEN and HOW to use specific strategies that help her son learn to eat different foods. She felt so confident because she had a plan in place, so she could anticipate food battles, and calmly resolve them. She said “I’m so glad I worked on this now, because he is refusing meals less, and open-minded around new foods” Feeding kids isn't just about "cookie-cutter" advice. Meal time strategies: -Don’t have have take a lot of time -Should be personalized -Can be switched up
It’s Fun with Food Friday and today’s post is on blueberries. It’s common for kids to be skeptical about fruits and veggies! Depending on if they are ripe or not, fruit can have inconsistent taste! That inconsistency can be really hard for hesitant eaters. Sometimes we have BIG expectations for kids getting to mealtime and eating, and forget that kids are still learning! How we can help a hesitant eater: -Make those food experiences positive-they are less likely to reject the food immediately! -Let them explore that food with food play-No pressure situation can motivate eating -Make it simple, and something that works with your busy schedule This exercise is made with: -Blueberries (fresh or frozen), -Tooth picks and your kids imagination. It’s also a great way to Teach your kiddo how to safely use toothpicks.
This is not to shame whatever works for your family around celebration foods/sweets. What I love about the #divisionofresponsibility is that parents get to determine the nuances that work for them, and they get to decide when they serve sweets/desserts. My end goal is for kids to be able to self regulate around all foods... Here’s why if dessert is being served (or if I’m choosing to serve dessert) I choose to serve it WITH the meal: 1. No foods are on a pedestal, all foods are presented equally. The kids get to decide what they want to eat on their plate, and how much they want to eat. 2. It doesn’t lead them to “finish their plate” and overeat to “earn” their dessert. I found kids will sometimes eat past their bodies fullness because they want dessert so badly. I don’t want the cookie to have that much power over them. 3. It doesn’t lead them to have a scarcity mindset around food, they can see it’s all in front of them. When we follow the #divisionofresponsibility it gives them the body autonomy to determine how much they will eat for that meal... Sometimes when families are first trying this they say, “all they want is the cookie and then they don’t eat the rest of their dinner.”.. To that I say, “there’s a possibility it’s because they still have a scarcity mindset around that cookie, and that cookie is still on a pedestal. Plus they are still learning to self regulate around that food.”.. Try it a few times (with a meal you know they enjoy), and see how your kid reacts.
Raise your hand if you were practicing that phrase on the left . I know I was!. This often left me... Making multiple meals to please everyone. Lead to power struggles whenever I didn’t ask that question before serving the food. Plus they would ask for the same food, every. time.
#1 thing I teach families to help with mealtime struggles and selective eaters is: You decide what food will be served. This is so much easier said than done! The trick in the difference between the phrases above is: By saying “which one of these choices would you like to eat with dinner?” You’ve already decided what foods will be on the table, AND you are being flexible in giving kids the power of having a choice. Kids love to express their autonomy. By letting them choose between two options (that you were already willing/able to serve anyway) They feel valued and listened to. The key point is: they were choosing between options YOU already decided on. So in reality, YOU are still deciding what’s for dinner. Remember that is your role in feeding kids. Believe it or not, they may even tolerate, taste, or eat the food option they choose. If they don’t, that’s okay that’s their choice (and role in feeding).
Has your little one been frustrated with self-feeding lately? There could be a few reasons for this, but this scenario comes to mind:Think about how you notice your baby is showing signs of hunger, you get them into their high chair, then you get the food prepared. After all this, once the food is ready for them to self-feed, 10-15 minutes may have gone by! At this point baby may be “hangry”! Think about when you have gone too long without eating, you may feel irritable, at that point you just want something quick to curb that feeling! Babies feel the same way! They just don’t know how to express it, or move quick enough with their feeding skills, to really satisfy their hunger quickly. Since we don’t want baby to be super hungry by the time food is in front of them. My tip is:Breastfeed or formula feed when you see hunger cues, just enough to settle them into their high chair and buy you time to get the food in front of them. This will save you time from having to console an overly frustrated and super hungry baby
Parents and guardians, it is exhausting making multiple meals every day, for weeks on end. It’s even more tiring when it’s constantly met with resistance from a picky eater! It’s SO tempting to “remind” kids that they have eaten something before, or that they like a specific food. However, when they are saying “I don’t like that” that can be code for “I feel like I don’t have a choice.” If we meet their food refusal with “But you do like that!” for stubborn eaters, this may start a food battle. If they are stubborn enough, they may stand their ground and refuse to eat anything, just to feel like they have a sense of control over the situation. A way to acknowledge that they don’t have to eat it is: -Acknowledge their feelings, repeat what they said back to you starting with “I hear that you___” -Let them know what their options are -Always have one food on the menu you know they like or love The rest is up to them! More often than not, they just needed to feel like they have a sense of control. You provide the food on the table, and they get to choose what food they eat based on the options you provided. Letting them have control over how much they choose to eat, can feel scary at first, but in the long run helps them build a strong connection to their body. Picky eaters may even start to show an interest or curiosity around new foods, which can be a huge step towards normal eating!
I recently had a stressed client say that their little one’s appetite seemed to vary so much. She said “he would have some really good days of eating, and then some really bad days, and I’m concerned about his growth.”Overtime we worked together to set realistic goals to support his eating at mealtime. We also adjusted how much she was offering, to make sure he wasn’t overwhelmed with how much food was on the plate.That mom I worked with felt so relieved to have a plan in place, so she could support her sons growth, and help him tune into his hunger/fullness cues!Kids’ appetites vary from day to day! This is NORMAL. Don't get so caught up on how much they eat at each individual meal. Most kids have the amazing ability to eat intuitively when we support them in helping them learn their bodies hunger and fullness around food. The key is for parents/guardians to build a trusting relationship with providing consistent eating opportunities. Parents roles are to provide the food, and kids roles are to decide if and how much they eat at that meal. That’s why if you ask me “is this TOO MUCH” or is this “TOO LITTLE”I have to say: “It depends”Kids have individual growth patterns, so every kid will have different appetites and eating patterns.If you are stressed about your child’s growth and eating patterns, and want to learn how to guide them to eat intuitively, apply to work with me.
Which side do you relate to? .I’ve had so many parents tell me that they are “scared” to serve fun foods like crackers, cookies, or chips. Oftentimes we want the very best for kids' health and wellbeing! ..One mistake I see is parent’s NEVER exposing their child to these foods, then they come to me later expressing that their child was sneaking, bingeing or hoarding these foods when they get older. These parents feel so defeated, confused, and scared for their child’s health. Will this happen to everyone? Obviously not! .. However, there’s a huge link between restricting fun foods from kids too much, and kids later fixating and overeating these foods. I think there’s a common misconception that these foods cannot be eaten AT ALL. ..That’s not reality!Obviously those foods taste great, there’s nothing wrong with that!... What we aim for is balance and variety:1. So they can have a healthy relationship with all foods, that won’t lead to too much restricting or bingeing 2. The more variety they have, the more likely they will develop curiosity around food. Which will help them from getting stuck eating the same foods over and over. ..The parents I work with benefit from a plan. A plan in place that works for their family, while also benefiting their little ones health. If a family is going through a restrict and then “free-for all” method around fun foods, it can feel chaotic. This chaos may show up in how a child acts around these foods. The families that I have worked with on how to serve fun foods, feel so much less pressure knowing they can enjoy ALL foods, and still raise happy healthy eaters. ..Life is too short to be “scared” of food, and to feel out of control around food. It’s just food!
There’s so much we could talk about when kids ask about food!Nutrition is individualized and everyone has different needs! What may be “healthy” for one person may be “harmful” for another. That’s why I skip out on labeling foods “healthy/unhealthy.” Studies show, teaching that to kids may lead to fixation and obsession over foods. Obsession around food may lead to some unbalanced eating habits that are hard to unlearn! I want to help parents prevent that from happening with their kiddos, so they can feel confident in feeding their kids, without perpetuating unsupportive nutrition behaviors. Parents and guardians, you don’t have to know everything!! Your kids look up to you, but often in these moments, they are just learning and making connections with food. They just want quick answers! I keep these answers in my back pocket:“Foods do different things in the body”“Some foods do a lot in the body, some foods do a little.”“All food gives us energy” If you are tired of second guessing if you are on the right track with your kiddos nutrition, it may be time to find individualized support.
Is your child constantly asking for snacks? I’m a firm believer that any food can be served at any meal, and that all foods can fit in our meal routines. In some previous posts i’ve talked about snacks being “mini meals”, which will look different depending on your time, capacity, and food you have available!If you’ve been following me for awhile, I love to talk about taking food off of a “pedestal.” It sounds good in theory, but what does that mean when we go to serve food?It means presenting food as neutrally as we can! Sometimes we are unintentionally leading kids to put food on a pedestal, just by how we are presenting it to them! I recommend taking snacks out of their packaging, and serving them with a few other food items.Why I recommend this:1. Selective eaters may get focused or fixated on a specific package, or “brand.” Which may actually make it harder for them to want to try any “different” foods in the long run.2. Presenting everything equally on a plate shows that there’s nothing special about the snack. It subtly takes that snack off the pedestal, because it blends in with the other colors and textures on the plate. With time this may lead to less fixation on specific snacks!
Wondering what may help your picky eater? I was talking with a mom the other day, and she said “I’m so sick of nothing working for helping my kid to eat, we’ve tried everything!” I totally related to this, feeding picky eaters is tough! We talked it out a bit, and she told me she was so focused on putting food in front of her toddler, and then trying to feed the baby, that by the time mealtime was done, an hour had passed! She would quickly scarf down her food after everyone was already moved on to the next activity.Between getting the baby to eat and fighting with her toddler about eating, she was exhausted. We talked about what changes she could make, and then it hit her. She wasn’t 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 her kids the mealtime behavior she wanted from them! Parents and guardians, there’s tons of research that backs up that modeling the behavior we want to see (without pressure), is crucial. Eating with kids at mealtime:-Improves selective and picky eating-Helps kids learn how to socialize and eat-Is linked to better performance in school-Gives kids the opportunity to see what a healthy relationship with all foods looks like I know it is tough to do, but the dishes will still be there. Parents nourishing yourself and sitting with your kids even for 5 minutes can make a HUGE difference.
Has this ever happened to you? Where you serve your child a food, they try it, eat it, say they like it, and then the next day refuse it? It’s happened to me. I was soooo tempted to say “well you ate that yesterday, so I know you like it”. I wanted their eating patterns to make sense, and I thought I had nailed it! Nope. Looking back there may have been two reasons why they ate something and then refused it later… 1. There may have been a subtle form of pressure at the last meal… Maybe just enough where they felt like they should eat it out of politeness. Subtle forms of pressure may look like: “Just try it, or just a bite” “I know you’ll like it” “It’s so healthy for you” . . 2.Signs they are still learning that food: -Taking time to explore and look at it first -Not wanting it to touch other foods on the plate -Waiting to eat it last or only eating a certain part of it (like eating the inside of a grape, but spitting out the skin) . . As parents and guardians we want them so badly to eat “normally”. However normal eating does vary! As soon I realized I may have been slightly pressuring them to eat the food, I switched up my strategy. I ditched those “low pressure” phrases, and I focused on letting kiddos learn and explore the food. I saw so many little improvements such as tasting food, and interacting with it! All without the meal time battle, which saved me so much emotional energy. If you feel like you want peace of mind and a clear simple strategy on how to support your childs’ relationship with food, let’s work together to find a personalized solution. I want to help you spend your energy making memories with your kiddo instead of fighting over food.
Have you ever said this before? I have. I used to think that if I just labeled things “good and bad” or “healthy/unhealthy” kids would make better food choices. This backfired on me big time. Back when I was nannying, I used these phrases A LOT around the eldest kiddo I took care of. One day we were in the drive-thru to get a coffee for myself, and she started to SCREAM just as I was about to place an order. She kept saying “I can’t eat here, IT’S BAD. I don’t want to be BAD.” At the time she was 4. My heart sunk. I’m ashamed to say, I had created a legitimate FEAR around food for her. You might ask, “Well but did it work? Did she stay away from those junk foods ??” Nope. Weirdly enough, she asked for them more. She would ask when we were going through the drive-thru again. She would ask me to make them for her constantly. I realized (the hard way) labelling food as good/bad, or “junk” is unnecessarily confusing to kids. They may feel like they did a bad thing after eating, and then the shame they feel may drive them to fixate on that food. There’s even studies to back up what I experienced in real life. I learned a totally different approach that has been proven time and time again to support kids in their nutrition, and relationship with food. I told her I was wrong, and that foods aren’t “good/bad,” they’re just different. We both unlearned, and she shifted away from being fixated on those foods. I’m happy to say after implementing my new approach, she’s now a happy active kid who has spent more time learning to ride a bike, than being fixated on food. I’ve seen her eat all of those foods, and be able to stop eating because her tummy was full. It balances out, and her eating patterns are less chaotic. I’m so relieved. We can make changes and adjust if something isn’t working! If you are looking for 1:1 guidance on how to support your little one's nutrition, so you can have more time to enjoy them meeting milestones, let’s work together
I recently had a client say that she wanted her little one to grow up to have a better relationship with food than she did. She mentioned that growing up her family was a “finish your plate” family. She said when she felt that kind of pressure at meal times it lead her to actually HATE the food she was made to finish.I’ve heard TONS of stories like this from families. Just because we were taught to eat a certain way growing up, doesn’t mean we have to pass that down to our little ones.Mealtime pressure like “finish your plate” can sometimes backfire for the hesitant or selective eater. If strategies like this are working for you, then that’s great! You don’t have a hesitant eater.However, if your little one is showing less interest in food, and rejecting food more frequently it may be time to adjust your approach.Letting kids interact and explore the food WITHOUT pressure is a huge win!No pressure meals looks like:-Not focusing on eating every last bite, instead focusing on making mealtime pleasant-Letting your child explore and learn the food even if they don’t finish it.After working with my client, she felt so empowered to help her little on become a curious eater in a respectful way that aligned with her values. I help families go from stressful meals to peaceful family meals, where their little one is curious about food.
Kids love asking about food all time. We know that what we say in those moments matters, especially if we want kiddos to have a healthy relationship with all foods growing up. One thing I work with my clients on is resisting the urge to ADD anything unnecessary when we talk about food. I like to boil it down to digestible facts (no pun intended) Usually young kids are satisfied with that! Keep in mind: Young kids aren’t always motivated to make food decisions based on what nutrients are in them! When I’m giving a kiddo a new food I recommend: -Teaching them about the food WITHOUT the additions of “it’s so healthy/unhealthy for you.” -Talking about where it’s from, what it tastes like, how I like to eat it, what it does in the body. If they ask a question that I don’t know the answer to, I tell them “That’s a great question, let’s look it up.” Strategies like this help many of my clients support their kids in having a healthy relationship with all foods, without confusing messages. Their kids learn to trust what their body needs, eat normally, and become curious eaters. Which saves these parents from so much worrying, because they were able to help their kiddos grow up to be resilient to disordered eating messages.
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