For Concerned Parents - "Help! My Child Won't Eat Vegetables" (& why you shouldn't worry)
Navigating the Intuitive Eating path for yourself can be tricky enough. Being a parent & wanting to raise mini-Intuitive Eaters adds a whole new dimension to this journey.
It IS possible to raise your kids as Intuitive Eaters (as a matter of fact - they are born with these intuitive instincts!) What we should really be talking about is how *not* to interfere with your child's natural Intuitive Eating tendencies & foster a welcoming, exciting, and inviting relationship between your child and ALL foods.
I know as a concerned, responsible and loving parent, you are going to worry about your child getting all of their nutritional needs met. And this can seem like a hard task if your child shows little interest in eating vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods. Rest assured, this is normal, and it doesn't mean your child's health will suffer.
In this letter, I address you - a concerned parent - worried that their child is not eating enough nutritious foods. You can read this letter here:
Here are the main takeaways:
This pattern is normal in children and is not something to be overly concerned about.
The preference for sweet, more energy-dense foods is biologically and genetically wired, especially in young children.
The psychological, environmental, and social circumstances that surround a child's eating experiences early on in their life are equally, if not more, important than what they are eating, as it relates to their health over a lifetime.
Researchers found that babies presented with a variety of foods (such as meats, cereals, eggs, milk, fruit, and vegetables) did naturally gravitate towards the sweeter foods for periods of time, but ultimately fell into patterns of balanced eating and grew well overall. Bottom line - this desire to consume only sweeter, less nutrient-dense foods balances out over time.
Research shows that pressuring children to eat certain foods resulted in negative affective reactions to the foods they were pressured to eat. Therefore, if we want children to naturally embrace (and perhaps even enjoy) vegetables in time, it is important not to place pressure on their consumption early on.
Here are some additional resources for raising Intuitive Eaters: