An encouraging word
I used to be fairly lenient about food.
I always made wholesome food, and I didn’t allow much junk food between meals, but if the kids didn’t want to eat at mealtime, I’d put it in the fridge and keep it for when they were hungry. If they didn’t love a particular food, I’d let them pick one item from their meal not to eat. If they wanted to add condiments and make a concoction of their food, I’d let them go to it.
It didn’t take long, however, to realize that this wasn’t working. The kids quickly learned that they would probably be able to sneak snacks between meals or convince an unwary adult to provide them with something. They learned to pick and choose between the things on their plates, arguing interminably about what they wanted to eat and what they didn’t. They made chemistry experiments of their meals but still didn’t eat anything. They would go and get their plates three times between every meal and still not eat anything.
So I changed things up.
I still make wholesome food, and I try to avoid meals that I know most of my family doesn’t like, but now everybody eats everything. I give small portions that the kids can reasonably eat. Seconds are available if they’re still hungry. Then they’re expected to eat everything on their plate before they get up from the table – old-school style. If that means they miss soccer or a play date or their screen time, so be it.
It took a while for them to adjust, I’ll admit. We had a few weeks where meals seemed to go on forever and take over most of the day. But now they eat. There are no plates of crazy food being pulled in and out of the fridge all day long, no arguments about what they can or cannot eat, no relentless requests for snacks because meals haven’t been eaten. They just eat. And it’s wonderful.