Would this be psychologically harmful (re: food/eating)? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-10-2013, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard the advice about not forcing/insisting a child eat certain foods.  I do believe that it is true, the child may grow up hating it or never eating it again when they are older.

 

And yet, I've been thinking now that DS (turning 5 years old) and I recently have been making a really good connection with each other in terms of cooperation/relationship (thanks to the advice I learned on this forum about ahaparenting.com), I wonder if, when DS doesn't eat his vegetables, I could teach/guide/instruct/encourage/and gently insist with an "I care about you" tone of voice.  If I were to say to him:  Just as you "learn how to " eg. ride a bike/swim/dress yourself/etc. you can "train yourself to learn how to (and perhaps even like) eating vegetables."

 

I would gently and with care, say to him that, just as you learn how to take a bath to clean the outside of you, eating vegetables helps to clean the insides of you.

 

I would then offer him suggestions on how to train himself, like "you can take a small bite of vegetables together with a big bite of meat/yummy food"--  ("and eventually, over time, increase the vegetable portion size") or "wait until you're very hungry, then eat the vegetables I serve you first instead of waiting for the other yummy foods I'm preparing for your meal" and any other ideas I have.

 

I would NOT insist that he eat the WHOLE serving of food EVERY time, but I would monitor his vegetable intake over the course of a week or so and if it falls short, I would again work with him on this process of training himself to learn how to like vegetables.

 

Is there something about taste buds or psychology or anything else that I am unaware of and shouldn't do this because it could backfire on us?

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Old 11-10-2013, 09:18 PM
 
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Sounds complicated to me. My method was, "Do not want to eat your food, fine go to bed, wake up hungry"

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Old 11-11-2013, 05:40 AM
 
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I have no problem with talking to my kids about food to keep their bodies healthy, I can't really see why they would be an issue.

 

For us it's usually focused on getting variety, even if the food they are choosing are reasonably nutritious, I feel that ringing the changes will help with their overall balance. A common conversation will be then checking if they can have a fruit for snack, if they've already had that fruit today I'll suggest maybe they try a different one.  I don;'t force it though, I don't think eating 3 apples today is going to do them any harm.

 

We also talk quite a bit about our tastes changing so we'll often encourage trying something to see if you still don't like it. The two keys for us are firstly the "trying portion" is not served on their plate, but in a separate dish (since they are both picky about foods touching). The second is that DH and I also have trying portions every so often. Yup, mummy is still not keen on mushrooms.

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Old 11-11-2013, 08:06 AM
 
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I am in the "this is what's being served, it's your choice to eat it or not but there will be nothing else til the next meal" camp. Even DH will not eat veggies on his own most of the time, so I try to include a lot of them in dinner every night. Everyone gets some, and then can have seconds of whatever they want when the first plate is empty. It's not a choice.

 

However, if it's just the two of you and you want to be more gentle/cooperative about it, try talking to him about how it's your job to make sure he's healthy and these are the ways you can do that. (You take him to the doctor, you let him play outside and get exercise to make his muscles strong and fresh air for his lungs, and you give him healthy food so his body can grow and also fight off germs that make him sick -- veggies do that..... etc.) Then if he says he doesn't like veggies, ask him if there are ANY he feels he would eat (I'm assuming he's had some along the way sometime?) Prepare those every day. If he doesn't name any, ask him to help you come up with ways he could manage to eat them. In a sandwich? On pizza or in a tortilla? Maybe he'd like for you to hide them and you could make it a game -- like puree them and mix them in with spaghetti sauce and see if he can figure out if there's veggies in there or not. Smoothies are good -- "fruit milkshakes" are big here and I always make them interesting colors with veggies (neon green works well).

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Old 11-11-2013, 08:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by PeachBaby View Post
 

I've heard the advice about not forcing/insisting a child eat certain foods.  I do believe that it is true, the child may grow up hating it or never eating it again when they are older.

 

And yet, I've been thinking now that DS (turning 5 years old) and I recently have been making a really good connection with each other in terms of cooperation/relationship (thanks to the advice I learned on this forum about ahaparenting.com), I wonder if, when DS doesn't eat his vegetables, I could teach/guide/instruct/encourage/and gently insist with an "I care about you" tone of voice. 

Sure. I think the only real issue is getting into a serious power struggle. If you are sensitive about it (ease up if he really protests, notice if he is more sensitive/picky at certain times like when he is tired or sick) and keep it respectful, there's nothing wrong with encouraging kids to eat vegetables and guiding them about nutrition. Kids usually respond better when they've been given good reasons rather than just told "because I say so."

 

The whole "this is what I made and all you are going to get til the next meal" approach probably works fine on kids who aren't picky, who just have preferences. But if you have a kid who has strong oral sensitivities to textures and tastes, it can be pretty cruel. Kids with serious sensitivities who are just going to gag, choke, and cry trying to swallow a food need a different approach. 


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Old 11-12-2013, 10:59 AM
 
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I think your approach sounds completely reasonable.  I would include in it a lot of personal experience, both how you learned to like foods you used to dislike and how you manage eating some foods you still don't like.  Instructions often sound less preachy and more compassionate when they are "what worked for me" rather than "what you ought to do".

 

You might also try this strategy that got my kid to like mushrooms.  Well, he now likes GOOD mushrooms--he is a snob about canned ones!


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Old 11-12-2013, 11:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post

 

The whole "this is what I made and all you are going to get til the next meal" approach probably works fine on kids who aren't picky, who just have preferences. But if you have a kid who has strong oral sensitivities to textures and tastes, it can be pretty cruel. Kids with serious sensitivities who are just going to gag, choke, and cry trying to swallow a food need a different approach. 

 

I think it sounds like a great, respectful approach to try.  I would also encourage (if he likes and eats cheese, butter, etc.) that you can pile that on, say, broccoli.  My oldest used to like dipping her broccoli in her orange juice.  Well, OK, as long as you drink the OJ (she did!)

 

Learning about how other cultures eat, some very heavy vegetable eaters, like in Japan.  I also agree that accommodating sensory issues, if they exist (they did in my house with my youngest).  My oldest now likes reading about nutrition in books, especially the books written/illustrated by Annie Rockwell.

 

We take the long view in our family.  I grew up learning to like stuff, well into my adulthood.  My parents were very strict about food when I was younger, and relaxed as I grew up.  Starting out, it was not "eat a bite" it was "clear your plate".  But I think I was more positively influenced by their offering unusual foods at restaurants without strings that made me a more adventurous eater as an adult.  And as far as nutrition, real, whole foods nutrition, that began as a teenager/young adult.  I grew up on canned vegetables, white bread, kool-aid and not much fresh anything.  Whole grain bread was a revelation, and I still yearn for Great Buns bread from the bakery in Las Vegas.  Best, ever.  (And I learned to love winter squash well into adulthood, which my mother never, ever served, always hating it growing up and being forced to eat it.)

 

Good luck.  I think it's a great approach to try.  I find issues around the dinner table, even on MDC, tend to be fairly rigid, so I find something like this refreshing, if it can work or be adapted as you go.  Please be sure to keep us updated.


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