Slow the meal down: Try serving some foods at each meal that take longer to eat, like soups, salads, and cut-up fresh fruit and vegetables. Encourage kids to savour food by asking them to describe its shape, colour, smell, texture, and taste.
Skip the lectures: This isn’t the time to talk about discipline or homework. Meals should nourish your child’s mind and soul. Have each person share a funny story or happy memory from the day.
Help kids get in touch with hunger and fullness: There’s a difference between hunger, desire, thirst, and cravings. One easy test: If they’re truly hungry, they’ll say yes to healthy foods such as apples, carrots, or cheese sticks; if they say they’re only hungry for cookies, that’s a craving. If your child asks for a snack 30 minutes after a meal, you can try saying, “I know food is good and it’s really fun to eat. But it’s really important to eat when our bodies need it so we don’t end up eating too much.”
Let kids serve themselves: If your child is old enough, allow them to serve themselves how much they would like to eat. While you can provide guidance so that they have enough veggies on their plate, allow them to decide how much will fill them up.
Encourage slow eating: Set the pace for the meal by eating slowly yourself. Take time to chew food properly and put your cutlery down before each mouthful. Aim to take at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish eating your meal. Make this a rule so your children know they will be sitting there for 30 minutes so they might as well eat their food slowly instead of rushing off to see what’s on TV or check their phones.
Discuss the food: At the dinner table, discuss how much you like or dislike a certain food. Ask your child to describe the taste or texture and if they don’t like it, encourage them to explain why that’s the case.
Make nutritious snacks easy to access: By having fruits in bowls on your kitchen bench or vegetable sticks cut up and in the fridge, your child is more likely to eat these foods. Stock your pantry and fridge with nutritious snacks.
Don’t buy “occasional” items: By having confectionery, chips and other less nutritious items in the house, you just have to keep saying ‘no’ when they ask for these foods. Avoid buying these foods at the supermarket, it will be easier to say “no” in the supermarket once than have to say it numerous times if you bring the product home.