Six ways to orchestrate kids’ desire to eat what you want them to eat, Part I

Aug 2, 2010 by

Forcing kids to eat never works, as you may have noticed. It works only slightly better than trying to force sheep, for example, to eat.  As with sheep, trying desperately to force children to do anything only scares them off.  They get resistant and suspicious.

Instead, we need only set the situation: a safe, fenced pasture of good grass, and bring them in gently. If you let them run around in the woods they’re likely to eat or be eaten by something bad. Placed in a pasture, their hunger comes naturally if they aren’t alarmed.  Waving your arms and shouting is not effective. The atmosphere need only be maintained and proper limits set, where they are free to eat because they’re hungry for what you want them…

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How to Motivate Kids to Eat

Jun 25, 2010 by

How can we motivate kids to eat? As revealed in this fascinating, brief video, children, like the rest of us, are less motivated by bribes than by having:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

How can we leverage these natural appetites of children to get them to eat what we want them to eat? And how and where we want them to eat?

They want mastery, so

  • Let them feed themselves as they are capable.
  • Let them learn to be civilized, acquire manners and use silverware.
  • Expect the best from them.
  • Let them try “grown-up” foods.
  • Let them–do not make them–try new foods.
  • Let them cook.
  • Let them help you in the kitchen, the grocery store, the garden.

They want autonomy, so:

  • Let them fill their own plates.
  • Let them decided how many bites of everything they want or don’t want.
  • Give them only good choices, and free reign among them.
  • Take the attitude, as in the video, that  “You probably want to eat  this healthy, delicious food, so just…
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More Dinner Table Lessons from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’

May 6, 2010 by

Behind the times as usual, I finally watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution—all six episodes at once. We can draw out some meaty lessons for parents who want to change their way their kids eat from Oliver’s strategies to change the way America eats, one school at a time and one town at a time.

Oliver’s first attempt at getting elementary school kids eating healthier was the addition of a healthy meal with real chicken (something unfamiliar) alongside the school’s regular fare: pizza. When given the choice, between the new, healthy meal or their usual pizza, of course the kids chose pizza.

As Oliver also found out, if you offer pink milk or chocolate milk alongside plain milk, the girls take the pink and the boys take the chocolate. Nothing terribly shocking there so far. However, he discovered if you boldly, ruthlessly take away the flavored, sugary milk options altogether, the kids…

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Dinner Table Lessons from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Apr 30, 2010 by

“Have you seen Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution?” the moms I coach in getting their kids to eat have been asking me. I finally pulled it up on the web and watched every episode all at once this week.

If I were in Oliver’s place, there are a couple of things I would have done differently (and many not as well), but I admire what he’s done. The more this kind of thing is broadcast, the better, I figure. Oliver encourages us to provide kids with better food. He appeals to our emotions about its importance, and shows us how it’s possible and enjoyable to cook and eat better food. We also see kids perfectly able to enjoy real, from-scratch food.

One of the best moments of the show for us parents to see is when Oliver demonstrates the…

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How to get kids to eat at the table, Part III

Apr 6, 2010 by

Answering a reader’s question about how to stop children’s complaining, playing around and dawdling at the dinner table.

Lindsey,

I have some more thoughts on the question.

I think you need a bit less nonchalance about your son’s behavior and a bit more nonchalance—masterly inactivity, a purposeful leaving alone—about the eating itself.

I suggest laying down the law on behavior at the table: we do not come to the table and complain. Nor do we play around and dawdle. I’m sure you don’t want him to get in the habit of fussing and whining and being disagreeable. I know you would not like him to go to someone else’s house and express himself that way. Or treat his wife that way someday. You son needs to be taught that if he wants to eat dinner with the family, he has to be polite.  I’m sure he will decide that, yes, he…

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How to get kids to eat at the table?

Apr 1, 2010 by

You want to have harmonious family meals. You want your kids to willingly eat your home cooked dinners and have peaceful conversations around the table. Problem is, the kids will have none of it. They will only be quiet, sit still and eat in front of the TV or a video game, maybe. Or they just won’t come to the table at all and forage in the kitchen when they want to eat. Maybe they’ll come to the table but won’t eat. You push and they resist.

What I’ve done with my kids has worked like a charm. My 17- and 19-year-olds have eaten dinner with us at the table every day of their lives, if they were at home. We eat home cooked meals every day and my goal has been to introduce them to as many different healthy foods as possible. They have always eaten whatever I’ve served,…

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