Feeding Your Family (and Picky Eaters)

By Shée Lillejord, Registered Dietitian March 11, 2021

Shée is a virtual (online) Registered Dietitian, who lives in Chestermere with her family. She provides nutrition counselling, education and nutrition recommendations to all ages. Shée is also a Mom Boss, read more about her how and why HERE.

Feeding my family healthy food is definitely one of my biggest challenges as a mom of three little ones (4, 6, and 8y ears old) and as a registered dietitian.

It’s so easy to judge other families on how they feed their children and think you would do things differently until you have children of your own or you get one of those picky eaters.

There is really nothing that prepares you for all the eating issues that arise with kids. It starts as babies – maybe your baby won’t eat a certain texture; then to toddlers and they won’t sit down to eat a meal, and then school-aged kids who may become picky eaters and refuse to eat anything. Or maybe it’s a combination of all these!

Even as a Dietitian I still struggle with getting my kids to healthy foods all the time. It’s often a struggle just to find the time to make healthy food. Sometimes we need to have quick and easy meals and this is OK. You would be spending your own day in the kitchen if everything was made from scratch. It’s OK not to be perfect. You can only do so much in a day.

Managing Picky Eaters

This is always such a challenging topic for parents. I feel that all children go through some form of picky eating phase. One of my biggest successes with dealing with my own picky eaters is repetition. It can take up to 20 attempts for a new food to be accepted by your child. Too often as parents, we give up after one or two attempts and just decide that our kids don’t like that food. Moral of the story: don’t give up.

Another big one is to role model. Kids learn best by watching their parents eating habits. If you want them to eat more fruit and vegetables, then you need to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Another strategy is to provide new foods with familiar and already accepted foods and again, repeating this process over and over. In doing this, make sure they are actually hungry.

A strategy that many parents employ is that of disguising food. This should actually be avoided. Children need to know what foods they are eating. You may lose their trust if you try tricking them.

Making Healthy Happen

Fitting in healthy meals between school and activities can also be a challenge. Being organized and prepared is the key to success. Meal planning is the strategy I take.

Key tips to meal planning:

  • Before you go grocery shopping, plan out your meals out for the week.
  • If you feel that planning for the entire week is too overwhelming at first, start with your busiest days. These days are the most important to plan. If you don’t plan meals on these days, you are more likely to eat out.
  • Make the grocery list with all the ingredients for all the meals. There are now options at grocery stores that you can order your groceries online or have delivered to your door. This definitely helps you stick to your grocery list and budget and reduces impulse buying.
  • Once you get back from grocery shopping, prep your vegetables. Make a big bowl of salad and chop your veggies so you can easily grab some for lunchtime or a mid-day snack.

I also find batch cooking or cooking a larger amount of foods helps with those busy nights. You could either cook enough food for two meals or freeze the extra food and pull it out on a busy night.

Bottom line: the more organized and prepared you are with meal planning and meal prepping the easier it will be. In saying that, you also need to be real with your expectations of yourself.

Shée Lillejord, Registered Dietitian

Shée is a virtual (online) Registered Dietitian, who lives in Chestermere with her family. She provides nutrition counselling, education and nutrition recommendations to all ages.

Shée is also a Mom Boss, read more about her HERE

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