There are many benefits to eating together as a family including stronger family bonds, better nutrition and portion sizes, emotional nurturing and a sense of belonging. Kids get to be themselves, feel comfortable and build confidence. It also gives your family a chance to unwind and tune in to each other after a busy day. Studies show that kids who eat with their families are less likely to get involved with drugs or alcohol. But what happens when your child doesn’t like to eat or is an extremely picky eater and mealtime is anything but stress-free?
Typically in our family we sit down to a meal and most of the family is finished within 20 minutes. It is just about that time when our son with Russell Silver Syndrome (www.magicfoundation.org), gets started on his meal. He is a notoriously slow eater and it used to bother us greatly and we would prompt and nag him to eat. Mealtime would quickly escalate from being an enjoyable experience to one filled with stress for everyone involved.
However, the WAY you eat is just as important as what you eat. Digestion is greatly improved if one actually sits down to dinner, relaxes and enjoys the food without conflict. When digestion is improved, the absorption of nutrients is also enhanced. It is important to be mindful of how you are eating. It makes all the difference! And when you are focusing on what your child is or is NOT eating, it will cause stress and impede digestion for everyone at the table. Instead, as we’ve learned to do, just allow them the time they need to eat. We often set a timer and that seems to motivate him to finish by the allotted time.
Another suggestion is to get your child involved in meal planning and preparation. If they have some input into what is served it will help get them excited about the meal. It also helps them to become invested in it and all that goes into getting a meal on the table. We will talk tomorrow more about getting your child involved in meal planning.
Do you find picky eating causes stress at mealtime and how do you deal with it?