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The Remedy for Picky Eating with Dietician Ann!

Today, we're tackling a topic that's all too familiar for many of us mommas in the house – picky eaters. I don't know about you but meal time used to be the most stressful time of day at our house next to bed time! LOL! I could not seem to get them to eat healthy food, or go to sleep when I needed them to. This led to fear for me. Fear of not giving them enough nourishment or rest, fear of not being a good mom, and because of my situation, fear of all of these being documented unfairly against me.

Then I met Ann. She is the creator of the Peas & Hoppiness Meal Planning Guide. This is an app I downloaded that has taken the guess-work out of the BIGGEST struggle for me at mealtime - deciding what to cook! I know that when I look at her recipes for the week, the groceries are in season, it tastes great, there's options for allergies or special restrictions, and its a balanced meal by a registered dietician!

But that's not what we are talking about today completely. We are really looking at this "issue" of picky eating... although after talking with Ann, I'm finding out that it is actually NOT an issue at all and I've been making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Ann explained to me about the 5 areas of distribution of duties... I know, it sounds kinda weird but hear me out.

We as the parents are supposed to decide When, What and Where our children eat. We put it on the plate at a certain time of day in a certain place.

Our kids get to decide IF and HOW MUCH! Isn't that completely revolutionary?

If that doesn't give you the biggest ah-ha, read on... there's more.

There is one thing about raising toddlers and young kids that we often forget – autonomy. Yep, giving our kids the freedom to explore their food preferences can be a game-changer. After all, nobody likes being told what to eat, right? So why not let them take the reins and discover what they love at their own pace?

Ann talks about many things that make the table a much less stressful place for you and your kiddo and one of those things is "safe foods."

These are palatable foods that you know your kid will like no matter what. At Ann's house it's blueberries and cheese. At my house its cereal, fruit, chips and pretzels. Offering these familiar favorites as a backup can provide a safety net for our mini food critics. And Ann tells us that if you look at a child's diet over the course of the day or week or month, instead of each meal, they actually even out pretty nicely as far as what they eat and covering all the food groups in a healthy way. This means they aren't missing out on nutrition after all, even though it may seem like it at each meal. This took a HUGE weight off of my shoulders when I heard this!

And let's talk dessert – with dinner. I know, it sounds wild, but hear me out. By serving up a sweet treat alongside the main course, we're changing the narrative around dessert from a reward to just another part of the meal. Plus, it's a surefire way to put a smile on those little faces. Ann does a fantastic job of explaining food hierarchy. I didn't know this, but it's actually super important that we don't make a big deal about sweets or veggies or anything in particular. Ann calls it the All Foods Fit plan. She says there is nothing that is "off limits" which makes the kids see all food as equal, and it breaks those stigmas of the forbidden candy that is so desirable. She also gives us ideas for healthy desserts like fruit and whipped cream, or no bake cookies. There are TONS of examples in her meal planning guide!

But perhaps the most important ingredient in all of this is creating a safe and stress-free environment at the table. It's about more than just food – it's about connection, kindness, and making mealtime a positive experience for everyone involved. This is achieved through the acceptance of exposures for us parents. I thought it was interesting to learn that our kids actually have instinctual and primal developments in their taste buds to keep them away from leafy greens or even more sour fruits like some berries when they are young, because in the hunter gatherer days of human nutrition, there were so many poisonous plants that they needed to spit out if it hit their mouth or it would be fatal. So remember that next time your toddler throws the broccoli across the room! Ann takes the pressure off the moment by reminding us that even a child seeing YOU eat the new food is considered an exposure. Even having it on their plate, without them touching it is an exposure. And then of course touching it, playing with it, putting it to their mouth, and then eventually eating it are all exposures.

Ann teaches us to keep our emotions in check during the whole eating experience. Don't get to upset OR too happy about your child eating anything. Just talk about their day, talk about your day, and keep the meal time a more relaxed and safe environment. Ann called it a Safe Sanctuary. I loved that.

If you want a FULL experience of Ann's expertise with picky eaters, she has a blog on her website that talks all about it. I'll put the link here. But you can also listen to the podcast Part 1 and 2 that she did for us on Shattered to Unbreakable as well if you like podcasts. If you have picky eaters at your house, this is a game changer!

And if you are interested in that meal planning guide, you can go to her website try a month free on me! Use the code RECLAIM30 at checkout!

Stay Sparkly Sweet Mommas!

Here are those resources:

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