Let’s end the “I’m not eating that!” battle

Mealtime – a time when we effortlessly prepare a variety of foods and then wait excitedly for our families to rush to the table and enjoy every bite! Oh wait, I think I just saw a unicorn!

OK, time to get real: for many parents, meal time is a stressful, agonizing event that leaves one feeling exhausted, drained and asking, “how did we get here?”  So how do meals become a stand-off with our children instead of an enjoyable time where we connect and share?

What I have learned from experience and in conversation with many parents is that parents stress a lot about meals – and many try to control all parts of food and eating behaviours.  Now I will be the first to admit that I like having control.  In fact, in my early parenting days I had a long list of parenting do’s and don’ts.  But the reality was and is that parenting successes only happened when the responsibilities were shared among all family members.  Reducing stress at meal times in my home meant I needed to let go of a little meal time control and embrace a positive approach to eating.  I find the Division of Responsibility in Feeding by Ellyn Satter outlines the responsibilities of parents and children when it comes to feeding clearly and simply.

Parent Eating

So how do we build that trust with our children around eating? Here is a list of do’s that will make meal time much more enjoyable:

  1. Eat meals together, as this will create happier meal times and allow you to role model the healthy eating behaviours you wish to see in your child.
  2. Remember that not all children eat the same way – some graze and separate while others explore and fill up fast.
  3. Allow your child to stop eating. Children understand when they have had enough and regular meals and snacks will help them become even more self-aware.
  4. Allow your child choice as this will help them to develop a sense of responsibility.  They don’t have to eat if they don’t want to, but if they are hungry they have the choice to eat what has been prepared.
  5. Honour food favourites. We all love eating foods we enjoy, so planning a favourite meal for the week with your children gives you time together and a meal to look forward to.

If you give a few of these tips a try, I am sure you will be saying “Bon Appetite” in no time! And please share with us how you and your family make meal times a happy time.

If you live in Halton Region, HaltonParents is here to support you on this crazy journey and to help you be the parent you want to be. Connect with us:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Sarah Flynn RN

About Sarah Flynn RN, MScN. I am a wife, mother of 3 and a registered public health nurse with the school years health team. I have been nursing for 10 years and have dedicated my career to supporting children and families thrive while in the hospital and out in the community. I am passionate about positive parenting and creating healthy school communities for our youth. You can find me in schools and online. Family life and work keeps me busy and on my toes – and I love to chat about it all in my HaltonParents blogs and on Facebook!
This entry was posted in Babies, Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, Preschool, preschoolers, school health, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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