Pickiness - A million-year old habit

Uncategorized Jan 14, 2021
 
Did you know that pickiness is a protective human trait?
 
Toddlers will eat anything up to a certain point: dish soap, LEGO, dirt, ear plugs (just to name a few of the interesting choices my toddlers have made).  And then! Overnight they decide NOT to eat any of the things they usually love. Suddenly every meal is a struggle. WHY OH WHY?
 
Actually, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. It’s evolution, y’all! Because back in the days, like millions of years ago when humans lived on the savanna, this scepticism to new food was a pretty significant survival mechanism for toddlers who would start walking around by themselves. Being picky is assumed to have prevented them from picking up and eating whatever poisonous findings they came across on the ground.
 
So, when we introduce new foods to our toddlers and they reject it, take a moment to think about how we’re trying to fight a million-year old habit.
 
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Are You a Food Cheating Parent?

real food hero Dec 03, 2020
 

When dealing with young selective eaters, it can sometimes be very frustrating when they again turn down the broccoli or the fish without having tasted just a tiny bit of it. Sometimes, we, therefore, resort to strategies that I have chosen to call mealtime manipulation strategies. Those strategies include food bribing, food rewards, punishing with food, or regulating emotions with food. But in this article, I’ll focus on when we sneak certain foods that our kids don’t like into a meal without telling them about it. Some examples are spinach in smoothies, cauliflower rice, or squash muffins. I’ll admit that I’ve engaged in this sort of manipulation, too: When one of my daughters declared that she only liked chicken, I would call pork “chicken-pork”, and it worked – she tried it. And I had it my way. But with time, I’ve also come to realize that this was not a victory. If I want to create a food hero and if I want my kids to be curious...

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The One-Bite Rule or The One-Bite Fight?

Uncategorized Nov 13, 2020
 

Have you ever said to your child, “Just one more bite, and then you can have dessert!”? If you have, you’re one of the many parents using the so-called “one-bite rule”. To be honest, I used to do it myself, too, but I have skipped it for good, and I’m going to tell you why.

The one-bite rule usually arises from a principle that most of us have been brought up on: that you must taste the food to be able to tell if you like it or not. Other times, though, parents enforce the rule out of a nutritional concern that their child is not getting enough to eat – they wonder if maybe their child will be hungry again before bedtime, or if they’ll wake up in the middle of the night crying for more food. So, we try to squeeze in just a little bit more dinner using the one-bite rule.

 

But using this rule is something I strongly discourage as a psychologist, mainly because mealtime rules are about pressure and forcing our kids. And in my...

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Nordic Family Table – The Compass

Uncategorized Oct 16, 2020
 

When thinking about the values we pass on to our kids, we as parents want to do it right. We want our kids to have a solid foundation for making good choices. We want them to be able to navigate their lives in a healthy way when they grow up and have a family of their own. 

 

When thinking of the values and traditions shaped in my own life, I often think back to the mealtimes in my childhood and the traditions surrounding these. And I don’t doubt for a minute that much of what I lean on today was founded in the conversations around that dinner table. That was where we talked about what was on our minds, how to process what had happened at school that day, what was on the news, or if somebody’s mood was a little off. Because what happens when we have conversations about those micro details of our day, is that we form the ground stones of our moral and our values. We mirror our parents and the people around us. And we navigate on that background. 

 

But...

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Mandatory Family Dinner?

Uncategorized Oct 13, 2020

In our family, there are 3 kids under the age of 10. That equals a busy everyday life: playdates, homework, pick-up, drop-off, sleepovers, sports, our own work, etc. You probably get the picture. We are all in the house every day at some point, but rarely at the same time. Our kids and their friends run in and out of the house as if they got a dollar for every time the door opens. Sometimes, we are 2 people in the house, sometimes 9 (when we count their friends, too). And as much as I love that, it also underscores the importance of picking out a time every day, where we sit, talk, and share. All of us, at the same time.

 

Shared meals every day

At our house, dinner is mandatory. Not only on Sundays. Every day. Looking back, I can’t remember one single time, where we were not all gathered around the table for dinner. Unless of course, if someone has sports, or is having dinner at a friend’s house. Otherwise, it would almost require a doctor’s note for somebody...

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The (Food) Struggle Is Real

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2020

Just the other day my daughter decided to hate (and push away) her chicken veggie taco (although she happily ate two servings of that meal last week, but it turns out that a 3-year-old gives no guarantees – surprise!). Having spent time and energy on preparing the meal, my husband, Jens, and I quickly fell into the all too familiar 3 step trap: entice (“yummy, it is chicken, you love that!”), distract (“look, an airplane is bringing your chicken! Wrooom!”), threaten (“if you don’t eat your dinner, there’s no dessert!”). And where did that get us? Absolutely nowhere! Yup, not even a tiny corn went into that little stubborn (and tightly closed) mouth.

Even for me, a child psychologist, it is sometimes hard not to fall into this pointless trap even though I should know better. And this situation illustrates how much pressure there is on parents to feed their children nutritious and healthy foods. And how sometimes our children...

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