As a parent providing nutritious food for your kid is important. Providing a balanced diet for kids is important for creating healthy lifestyle choices as well as helping children sustain healthy amounts of energy and have the capacity for staying mentally and physically healthy.
Some kids struggle with eating issues that are beyond “picky”. Sometimes, try as a parent might, the thought and feeling of certain foods are hard for a child to tolerate. Whether eating issues stem from an allergy, feelings of anxiety or sensory sensitivity can create a tricky platform to get your child to eat new foods. And this can often leave parents feeling concerned, overwhelmed and exhausted.
As a parent with a child refusing to eat new foods or only wanting to eat certain foods I encourage you to consider this one thing:
Regular mindful eating
Mindful eating is a way to promote curiosity and flexible thinking in your child around different foods. It also is a way to potentially expand your child’s tolerance level in small bits in order to increase their capacity to consider new choices.
Note: I don’t guarantee success at getting your kids to eat new foods through the incorporation of mindful eating, however, if practiced regularly, over time, mindful eating can reduce anxiety around food and potentially increase the breadth of your child’s food diet 🙂
What is mindful eating? Mindful eating components can include (but isn’t limited to):
1. Looking at the food with your child. Try saying “let’s take a look at this new food, what do you see?”
2. Feeling the food. Try saying “I wonder how it feels? Soft, squishy, hard, jiggly.”
3. Smelling the food. Try taking in some deep breaths and smelling different scents. Get curious about the smells.
4. Tasting the food and talking about what it feels like in your mouth as you chew. Ask the child to put the food in his or her mouth and feel it, taste it, chew it. If they don’t like it they can spit it out but if they do like it maybe they can swallow it.
5. Listening to your body about how you feel about the food. Help a child listen to their body. Every day is different so encourage the child to have an open mind about what he or she needs that day around food. And parents, as you help your child listen to their body about how they feel about food, give them ways to “move” in order to work out their feelings and emotions to decrease loss of control with their emotions as they try mindful eating. (for more ideas on how to get your child to move check out my post on helping kids with emotional regulation)
Sensory issues around food are difficult to deal with in children. As a parent they require a lot of support and patience. At times you may feel isolated or at a loss to find the support you need on a daily basis. If this is you and would like to find out more about area resources for support please reach out to us at Kid Matters Counseling and we would be happy to share our best resources with you. It’s important to stay equipped for the parenting journey, so remember, don’t parent alone!
Owner | Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
Parenting is hard! But you don’t have to do it alone. I work with children and parents to resolve emotional conflict, cultivate healing, and nurture hope.
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