Year of Food: 10 things to say to Picky Eaters
I used to sit at the table with the kids and feel depressed. What I wanted was a good-hearted, good-humoured family time where everyone conversed and ate their dinner. You know, nicely.
It didn't happen because of the whingeing and the complaining and the elbows on the table and the burping and the insulting and the not-eating.
I'm approaching it differently now. I'm committing myself to being a 'meal coach' for the whole, entire year. Dinner is now learning, training time. The kids are learning how to eat, how to behave, how to hold their forks and how to manage their feelings of disgust. They're being trained to eat socially for the future. They're training their tastebuds to accept different foods and their mouths to stop complaining.
AND BY GOLLY IT'S GONNA WORK. IT'S GOT TO WORK!
Here are 10 things I say - very calmly, because calm is key - to my picky eaters as I sit with them and help them put infinitesimally tiny pieces of chicken meatball and zucchini in their mouths.
1. You think you're going to vomit. You're not. It might feel like you're going to vomit, but it's just a feeling.
2. If you sit and complain for 20 minutes it's going to be miserable. Much better to eat it and be miserable for 30 seconds only. Think of how much of your life you're wasting by sitting here whinging.
3. Put it in your mouth and chew.
4. PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH! NOW!
5. Let's divide up the remaining food on the plate. How many bites are there left?
6. Okay, of these four bites, which one is the worst and which is the best? (It's amazing how once they do that, they'll quite happily eat the best one quickly.)
7. Now, which is the next best? Okay. Eat it as well.
8. I'm not interested in if you like this or not. There are other reasons to eat apart from liking. You're eating for health and sociability.
9. Once you've eaten this, I want you tell me where it sits on the 'disgust-o-meter' if 1 is fine and 10 is vomit. (Apparently baked carrots are a 10... who knew?)
10. You will not die if you eat this. (They eat.) See? Did you die? No. So you're fine.