STEP UP TO THE PLATE

THE DIN­ING TA­BLE CAN BE­COME A BAT­TLE­FIELD FOR EVEN THE CALMEST OF FAM­I­LIES. HERE ARE SEVEN WAYS TO FLIP THE SCRIPT AT MEALTIME

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | YOU -

If we were to open a book ti­tled Par­ent­ing 101 ,I think you will agree that the main chap­ter would be fo­cused on the daily chal­lenge of feed­ing our chil­dren healthy meals.

It’s at the din­ner ta­ble that we of­ten bring out the big guns in hope of en­tic­ing our kids to eat with rel­ish what­ever we dish up. It’s easy to un­con­sciously spit out to­ken phrases that were re­peated in our youth. Though our goal is to en­cour­age eat­ing through pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment, some­times it goes pear-shaped with our kids hear­ing some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

1. THE LABELLER

Par­ent: “My child is such a picky eater.”

The child hears: “I am a picky eater.”

Try this in­stead: Avoid la­belling your child, es­pe­cially when they can hear you. La­bels can be­come sub­con­scious prophe­cies and make the mat­ter worse in the long run. Keep things pos­i­tive and high­light the healthy things they do eat.

2. WHEN FULL IS FULL

Par­ent: “Have a few more mouth­fuls be­fore you leave the ta­ble.”

The child hears: “Only my par­ents can de­cide for me when I have had enough to eat.”

Try this in­stead: “There is no more food now un­til break­fast (or next meal, what­ever that is) so make sure you are get­ting enough to eat.” Over and out.

3. THE BARGAINER

Par­ent: “If you eat all your ve­g­ies you can have some ice cream.”

The child hears: “These ve­g­ies are just an ob­sta­cle I have to get through to get to the good stuff.”

Try this in­stead: Talk about healthy eat­ing and make eat­ing veg­eta­bles a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence through role play, games and ex­cit­ing meals.

4. THE RE­VERSE PSYCHOLOGY TREAT­MENT

Par­ent: “Your sis­ter/brother is such a good eater — look at them eat­ing all their meal.”

The child hears: “I am a crap eater and I’ll never be as good as my sis­ter/brother.”

Try this in­stead: Don’t feel you can’t praise the other child, but just ex­plain to the non-eater that it takes time to get used to cer­tain tastes.

5. THE ART OF RE-WORDING

Par­ent: “We don’t have lol­lies all the time be­cause they are bad for us.” The child hears: “Lol­lies are yummy so bad means yummy.”

Try this in­stead: “Lol­lies are not good for our teeth and some­thing we only eat at spe­cial times.”

6. THE GIVER INNERER

Par­ent: “If you’re not go­ing to eat that I will make you some­thing else.”

The child hears: “Yay, I never have to try this un­usual/non-favourite food be­cause mum will al­ways make me some­thing else.”

Try this in­stead: “We all eat the same meal in our house and we will have one of your favourite meals an­other night.”

7. THE REWARDER

Par­ent: “I’ll buy ice cream for you if you’re good.” The child hears: “I’ll only be good so I can get an ice cream.”

Try this in­stead: Try to leave food out of rewards. Re­ward­ing with food can of­ten lead to a poor food equals re­ward equals makes me feel bet­ter re­la­tion­ship, which can then lead to binge eat­ing and di­et­ing as they get older. Use other rewards such as stick­ers, fam­ily time, a spe­cial day out or even a small toy they’ve been dream­ing about.

Cham­pion iron­woman and ocean ath­lete Karla Gil­bert is an ac­cred­ited Nu­tri­tion and Health Coach and cer­ti­fied Level III and IV Fit­ness Trainer, with cer­tifi­cates in Child Nu­tri­tion and Nu­tri­tion. She is the au­thor of ebook Naked Habits.

EYE

KARLA GIL­BERT

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