Avoiding Food Battles

by Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

It's common for food to become a source of conflict in most families. Many parents employ a bargaining or bribing approach to get their kids to eat healthy foods. This is not the best strategy as it encourages your child to resist, a trait that most kids excel at from a very young age.

An alternate strategy that will net better results is to give kids some control in deciding what foods to eat. Of course, as a parent your job is to ensure that the choices available in your home are healthy ones.

Your child can decide if she is hungry, what she will eat from the foods that you are serving, and when she is full. Here are some tips that may help you out:

  1. Don't use food as a reward. Avoid using dessert as a reward for eating a meal, or offering sweets for completing a chore.

  2. Establish schedules for meals and snacks. Kids like knowing what to expect.

  3. Don't force kids to eat new foods. Instead ask them to try it. If they resist, tell them its okay. Many kids need to see a new food several times before they can muster the courage to experiment with something new.

  4. Don't force your kids to finish all their food. Doing so teaches them to overeat and eventually this habit can override their ability to stop eating when they are full.

  5. Don't use food as a way of showing love. When you want to show love, give them a hug, some of your time or praise.

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby, creators of products such as homemade baby food kits, baby food cookbooks, baby food and breast milk storage trays, breastfeeding reminders, and child development diaries. Visit them online at www.FreshBaby.com and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits!

Copyright © Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.