Facing Food – By Emily C.

Although I sometimes think my daughter would live on Goldfish crackers if I let her, she does tend to eat a decent variety of foods.

Our latest dilemma is getting her to stop playing long enough to consume something. We do a lot of drive-by eating of yogurt tubes, little bowls of grapes, and portable finger foods for those times when she will forego a meal to keep playing. I pick my battles. Fighting over food isn’t one of the biggies for me as long as she eats and gets some variety. I had enough of my own issues with food that I would rather she eat when she’s hungry rather than when a clock tells her it’s time for a full meal. She has always been more of a grazer but will sit for meals when she is ready to eat more (or messier).

I have started to play with a few simple yet effective ways to convince my daughter to slow down a bit to eat. We play with her food.

Fruit Face

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It’s become a game to see how I can make a new face each time.  I use a variety of produce to make facial features.  Some favorites have been cucumber eyes, blueberry or grape hair, and strawberry or pepper lips.  She enjoys picking out the foods to go into each face.

Fruit Art

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My friend makes a fantastic fruit rainbow for her son.  I have always been impressed by this but rarely have all of the colors represented in my house at any one time.  I could do a rainbow obscured by a building perhaps to compensate for whichever colors I am missing.

I usually make designs with a few colors or occasionally create simple circles of fruit or other designs to make the food more appealing.  Even something as simple as letting my daughter choose if she wants a whole banana or banana wheels sliced up on a plate does wonders for getting her to eat.  When she can choose the plate and help, it’s even more successful.

Bento Box

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Perhaps the single best option I have tried is making a bento box style lunch.  My daughter loves to find different foods to go in each hole.  I am thrilled that she is eating four food groups.  We have a lot of options with this tray including half a sandwich, cracker sandwiches, yogurt, sausages, and just about any shape of fruit or vegetable.  I believe anything can be made to fit into these spaces because it means my child will eat it!

I think the trick to encouraging kids to eat is to remember that they are constantly on the go and continually burning energy.  Refueling can be achieved in a lot of ways.  For me, the easiest is when I include my daughter in the process—from picking out dishes to selecting her own foods.  We try to make food fun and functional instead of traumatic.

 

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