Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters

by | Aug 13, 2020 | Nutrition, Parenting | 0 comments

How are you doing?

I know things have been pretty scary with our state’s COVID numbers going up. How are you managing your stress? Are your kids feeling anxious to start school (ie, excited or nervous)? Even though nothing we’re experiencing right now is normal and it’s such a bummer that we don’t have this under better control (yet), it’s ok to feel worried, frustrated, and just afraid. I know I do, but I try to focus on things that are within my control, what I can do to keep myself and my family as safe as possible. Another fun tool I discovered that’s been a bit calming is actually a podcast for kids called “Peace Out.” It helps kids (and adults, for that matter) calm when they’re worked up or anxious and even fall asleep.

How are we doing?

While I’ve been excitedly working on building the practice, I’ve also picked up a few more shifts in the NICU at Kapiolani. When my daughter sees me put on my scrubs, she says “Mommy’s going to the hospital to see the babies.” And that’s what I do.

Wren is loving preschool and, so far, we’ve had to deal with a brief upper respiratory infection that kept her out a few days. We haven’t had any reports in her school of any major illness besides what’s to be expected this time of year (hand-foot-mouth disease, some colds, and pinworms … all normal stuff and completely manageable.) If you’re dealing with any of these illnesses and need some guidance, don’t hesitate to shoot us a text, and we’ll help however we can.

Dr. Honda is adjusting to life back in the islands and is excited to be here helping to build our new practice. Our staff, Char, Randalyn, and Rosie, are working hard behind the scenes getting everything set up with our systems and processes to make your experience with our office seamless. If you’ve texted or called us, you know that they’re ready to help!

An Update on our Office

  • I have the lease in my hand and will be reviewing and signing it by the end of the week, so I’m excited to announce our new location very soon.
  • Based on how credentialing is going and the renovations necessary at our office, our goal of September may be a reach, BUT we’re staying optimistic and will let you know as soon as our timeline is clearer. We are DYING to get back to work and can’t wait to see you again.
  • If you haven’t already, connect with us via secure text anytime by texting 808.431.3161. You can also follow us on social media!
  • Finally, if you know you’d like to join our practice, you can submit your new patient registration paperwork online or on your phone! We are NOT OPEN JUST YET, but we want to get you plugged into our systems to make the transition for you smooth and easy!
    • Give yourself about 10-15 minutes to get through registration (you can save and come back to it)
    • Have your ID and insurance card ready to snap a photo and upload (no inputting numbers!)
    • You can register multiple children at once, if necessary
  • If you know anyone else that might not be getting this newsletter and would want to register for our new office, please forward this email to them!
To Register, CLICK HERE

School openings?

I don’t have any new updates on COVID19. You’ve been following the news, I’m sure. Schools are deciding what to do while keeping the best interests of students and teachers in mind. Some are going online to start, some are going hybrid, and others, especially childcare centers and preschools, are open for in-person care.

For in-person school, precautions that are still recommended include: masking of older kids and teachers throughout the day, cohorting classes to minimize exposure to multiple kids, being outside if possible, maintaining social distance as able, excellent handwashing, and good sanitization of surfaces between classes. Again, we might not be able to control the individual habits of other children, but preparing our own children to use best practices and being consistent at home and while out as a family can help ease the transition.

As an aside, there was a great article on COVID19 etiquette (ie, how to ask others politely to follow guidelines) on NPR that is worth a look if you haven’t already seen it.

All she wants is yogurt

My daughter Wren is obsessed with yogurt (she calls it “ogre” but we know what she means). She could eat it for every meal if we let her, and if we say no to yogurt, she then asks for cheese. Then her hail mary is always, “Wrenny want cookie.” Ahh, so do I, Wrenny, so do I.

But knowing that this is neither ideal nor balanced nutrition, we make sure she doesn’t get her dairy fix more than once or twice a day to leave room to try other things. Sometimes she’ll pitch a fit and refuse to eat the delicious meal I put in front of her (maybe my cooking is not that delicious, but it’s edible), so I give her about 15 minutes (this can be generous, 7-10 minutes works fine too) to consider the meal as a viable option before taking it away and sending her off to her next adventure.

It’s hard sometimes, knowing that I didn’t fill her belly. It feels like pretty much my job as a mom to make sure she eats and is nourished. And, often guilt sets in, and even though she and I have tiny eyes, she has this uncanny ability to make hers big and pleading and irresistible. I remind myself in those moments that she’s ok, I don’t need to stuff her full of food to be a good mom, and consistency is what’s important here.

Some cool things about kids and food preferences

  • Kids’ appetites usually decrease quite a bit between age 1 and 4. Picky eating can actually be a sign of decreased hunger.
  • It’s normal to start seeing signs of stronger food preferences from age 1.
  • Babies’ food preferences (often referred to as their palates) are largely shaped by 1) the flavor of mom’s amniotic fluid when in utero and 2) the flavor of mom’s breastmilk in infancy. The more varied mom’s diet, even in the prenatal period, the more varied baby’s diet is, which bodes well for the future.
  • It can take 10 to 12 exposures to the same food before your child realizes whether or not he likes a food (so don’t give up after he spits it out 5x … there’s still a chance he’ll like peas!!)

So what do you do if you’re dealing with a picky eater? A super stubborn, impossible eater? 

Here are a few tips and tricks for getting your kiddo to eat a greater variety of foods. As always, take what works for your family, leave the rest.

  • Remember to listen. It’s actually best to let your child honor and connect with her body’s hunger and satisfaction cues instead of ignoring them. If she’s not hungry, don’t panic, it’s ok. Maybe she’ll be hungry at the next meal.
  • Kids loooooove routine. Aim for 3 meals and 2 snacks per day after 1yo. Eat as a family, without distractions (ahem, put the phone away), let her see you eat veggies too if you want her to eat veggies, and enjoy the time together.
  • Who’s responsible for what? Well, you parental units get to choose the meal and mealtime. Your awesome kid gets to choose whether or not to eat the meal or finish it. Once your job is done, whether or not he wants to eat is totally up to him! Let it go!
  • Yes, it’s really fine if he doesn’t eat anything.
  • Remember, there’s often NO reason for why she’ll love to eat something today and hate to eat it tomorrow. Learning the preferences of a toddler is generally a fickle process.
  • Don’t force her to eat, and don’t get into food fights. Food is nourishing, and it can be fun, but it should never be dramatic.
  • Try not to bribe or offer a “treat if you try your broccoli” because this sets up foods as “good” or “bad,” a hierarchy that we’re trying to avoid.
  • Yes, it’s ok if she goes to bed without eating. I totally promise.
  • Guilt-check yourself: We don’t recommend offering snacks out of guilt when he doesn’t finish his meal. If you planned a snack (the meal you chose at the time you chose), then that’s ok, but if you’re chasing him down with his favorite snack because you don’t want him to be hungry or to ease your anxiety about his empty tummy, then you’re teaching him that food will always be offered and eventually he’ll get what he wants if he just keeps holding out. It can help to remember that at school if he doesn’t want to eat at snack time, no one’s going to force him to. It just gets cleaned up, and there’s no more food until lunchtime. No drama. Just a structure that works.
  • Eventually, if you’re consistent with this new mealtime routine, she’ll learn that the food you choose comes in 3 meals and two snacks at the time you decide. It gives you the opportunity to choose well-rounded meals and offer good nutrition that, hopefully, with consistent exposure, she’ll come to enjoy or at the very least eat.
  • Also, remember that toddler appetites are wildly inconsistent. There’ll be days he eats nothing (too busy playing, mommy) and days when he’ll eat everything that comes his way and ask for more. He’ll eat all the carbs today and all the protein tomorrow, so don’t stress about getting each meal just right everyday … toddlers tend to self-regulate and get to the right balance over the course of a week or two.
  • Variety is key. Not only do you want to offer different kinds of fruits, vegetables, and proteins like meat and fish, but you also want to offer different colors, flavors, and textures. Try different herbs and spices too.
  • I know you don’t want to waste food, so if it’s new, try to offer just a little and then not again for a few weeks (this recommendation is for toddlers … for infants, you’re going to want to introduce the same thing a few days in a row first).
  • Toddlers often eat with their eyes, so make it fun! If the food is colorful in cool shapes and can be dipped, it’s often a winner! Toddlers enjoy the autonomy of finger foods, so you can cut anything new into bite-sized pieces for him to explore.
  • If she’s old enough, make her your sous chef! My daughter has helped me wash the rice, scoop the hummus, and pluck the grapes off the stems. It helps to get her acquainted with her food.
  • There’s nothing wrong with being sneaky … mix up veggies in omelets, smoothies, soups, stews, bake them in breads and cookies … get ’em in where you can; if they take a bite or two, it’s a win!
  • Once your child accepts one food, you can introduce other foods with similar colors, flavors, and textures to form a “food bridge” to add more variety.
  • Sometimes serving unfamiliar foods or flavors kids usually don’t like at first (sour and bitter), with more familiar foods and flavors toddlers naturally prefer (sweet and salty), can help open her mind. Pairing something bitter like broccoli with something salty like cheese or pairing something sour/tart like yogurt with something sweet like blueberries, for example. Combinations can excite the tastebuds!