Give Your Toddlers the Gift of a Happy & Healthy Relationship with Food: 5 Short Summer Reads 

Readers of It's Not About Nutrition know I love to travel. This week my husband and I are off to Peru. Hurray! Back in August.

Summer often means giving kids a pass on what they do—or do not—eat. No need to feel guilty. Time off is GOOD.

I'm all for taking a break from the feeding struggle. Enjoy the time off. Parents aren't the only ones who need a breather. Kids need some time off too. Think of this as a time to reset the feeding/eating dynamic. Read about the best way to use the reset.

Everyone deserves to have a good relationship with food. Here are 5 quick reads to help you give your kids the gift of a lifetime of healthy and happy eating.

1) What's Bike Riding Got to Do with It?  As in eating, many parents inadvertently, but quite deliberately, teach their kids bike riding habits that they’ll have to unlearn before they’ll be able to successfully peddle off into the sunset. The best intentions sometimes produce the worst habits. Riding from the get-go without training wheels? You bet.

2) Use Ice Cream to Teach Your Kids to Eat Right Tempted to substitute "healthier" ice cream or frozen yogurt for your kids' favorites? Don't do it. Instead, teach your kids how to put sweets and treats into their diets in the right way. 

3) Salad Days Summer is practically synonymous with salad. But getting kids to eat and enjoy salad? That's a different story. Here are 5 steps to implement to grow a salad eater, without begging, bribing, threatening...

4) That Fried Chicken Might as Well be Fried Crickets What my experience eating fried crickets while on vacation can teach you about your child's aversion to "normal" food.


5) It's Summer But I'm Thinking About School Lunches! I know it's early, but lunches can teach your kids healthy eating habits.

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


The Surefire Way to Stop Fighting with Your Kids about Food

Here's the surefire way to stop fighting with your kids about food. Stop pressuring them to eat differently. Instead, put some structure in place that teaches your kids how to eat.

Pressure is the enemy. I'm not kidding.

Parents often overlook how much we pressure our kids to eat differently. I get it. All to often it doesn't seem like there is any other solution. 

Pressure and control are twin dynamics. Pressure is a form of control. And kids who feel pressured often respond with control of their own. Leniency seems like the opposite of pressure. It's not. Structure is the opposite of pressure. 

Pressure involves trying to convince, coerce or punish your kids.

Pressure usually involves lots of back-and forth, negotiation, and stress. Pressure engages your children in a struggle. Sometimes pressure looks like it's working because it kids back down quickly. But if you have to use the same techniques night after night, your pressure tactics aren't working to change anything. They're a bandaid.

Read You Can't Make Me Eat It!

Listen to the Happy Bite Podcast The Perils of Pressure.

Structure is calm. It is comprised of rules that are applied consistently. There is no fight.

Think of a healthy structure as the car-seat rule: you and your kids both know that they ride in car seats. After the initial struggle, everyone accepts the car seat. You need the same kind of rules for eating.

Unlike the car-seat rule, however, eating rules can be—actually need to be—a little more flexible. You don't have to implement the Rotation Rule every single day no matter what else is going on in the universe. However, bend the rules too much and they break. Your foundation will come tumbling down.

How do you know the tactic you have chosen revolves around pressure and control? You feel like:

  1. You are trying to get your child to do something.
  2. You notice your child is resisting.
  3. You wish things were different but you don't know what else to do
  4. You negotiate, to appeal to your child's inner logic (even though she doesn't seem to have any) and then you resort to bribing, begging and then, maybe even punishing. 

In other words, you feel like you and your kids are adversaries. Read more about The Pressure Cooker Problem.

With structure, there are clear rules and clear consequences that are the foundation for behavior. 

With structure, there isn't any back-and-forth between you and your kids. 

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


Are Veggie Chips Better for Toddlers than Potato Chips?

It's counterintuitive but potato chips are better for toddlers' eating habits than veggie chips.

Source: elenathewise/depositphotos

Maybe this idea is catching on. Recently, an older—or should I say more mature—blog post, Potato Chips Win Again!, has been getting a lot of attention.

Here's a recap:

  • The Nutriiton Perspective: Nobody thinks veggie chips are healthy, per se. However, many people think veggie chips are healthier than potato chips. Wrong. If the chip really has vegetables, the product will contain the nutrients found in vegetables.
  • The Habits Perspective: It's easier to teach kids proper eating habits when you give them actual potato chips. Nobody tells their kids potato chips are healthy.

The difference between Lay’s Classic potato chips, Terra Chips and Garden Veggie Crisps boils down to

Potato Chips almost always "win." For a side-by-side comparison, read Potato Chips Win Again!

“I try to get the kind with kale,” one mother recently said. Sound familiar?

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~