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  • Writer's pictureKate Killion

The #1 rule to combat picky eating and reduce mealtime stress

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Every parent knows the struggle: you spend ages cooking a well-balanced meal, yet your child won't try a single bite. What gives, and what can you do about it?

(Hint: Not this)

First of all, "picky" or selective eating is very common, and often normal. In fact, nearly all young children display some picky eating behaviors! This is biological: to kids, food actually tastes different than it does to adults. When humans developed many years ago, this was likely protective. Once kids had enough independence to run away from their parents, their sensitive taste buds protected them from eating something dangerous, like poisonous berries!

However, this is not a lost cause! You can still help your child learn to love vegetables, and save yourself a LOT of mealtime stress in the process.

The #1 rule for raising happy, healthy eaters: Follow the division of responsibility in feeding.

The division of responsibility (DOR) was coined by Registered Dietitian Ellyn Satter. The DOR lists two sets of responsibilities: what the adult is responsible for, and what the child is responsible for. Here is what you need to know:

The adult decides when food is served and what food is served at that meal or snack.

Ideally, food is provided at regular and predictable intervals, and served in a pleasant environment. At each meal and snack, there should always be at least one food that the child typically likes to eat. It is also the parent's job to let their child do their own job.

Then, the child is left to decide if they are going to eat, which foods they are going to eat, and how much they are going to eat.

While it can feel tempting as a parent to try to control these child responsibilities, it is not your job. In fact, trying to control exactly what and how much your child eats can often backfire, leading to more picky eating and mealtime fights.

What do you think of the division of responsibility? Is this something you would like to implement?

If you need support with picky eating, schedule an appointment by emailing or calling (833) 516-0454!

Killion Family Nutrition is supported by LWell, Inc.

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1 Comment

Oct 04, 2023

Many of us parents need these tips!! Thank you!!

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