Dinner Dilemma Part 1: Why Won’t My Kids Eat?
“Dinner time!” you exclaim happily, excited to have gotten a pretty solid, mostly home cooked, meal on the table in the thirty minutes since you arrived home from soccer/dance/music (or all of the above) drop offs, pick ups and carpools. You expect they’ll come running, after all they were “STARVING” on the car ride home, right? But instead of an anxiously excited stampede to the table, the replies are more along the lines of, “can I finish this show first?” or the dreaded, “what are we having? I don’t like (insert the disliked food du jour here).”
While we haven’t found a silver bullet, we have implemented a few guardrails around that have helped make dinner delightful, for all:
- Set Snacks. Limits around both times and types of snacks can be crucial to ensure kids come to the table ready to eat the meal that is presented. A routine for both meals and snacks allows kids to know what to expect and avoid grazing during the in between times. Creating a snack combination that fills and fuels can also help - think carb/fat/protein/fiber like yogurt and fruit, guacamole with whole grain crackers, or grab and go items like homemade trail mix or fruit and seed bars.
- Get ‘em Cooking. This one may feel tougher at first, especially in that 30 minute window, but having kids help has shown time and time again to lead to them actually eating the food they’ve made. Another strange bonus - “chef snacks” - the little scraps left during prep, can be a great way for kids to taste something they’d otherwise eschew on their plate - and every exposure adds up!