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How To Feed A Picky Eater

picky eaterSince the days my daughters were born, I’ve been reading books and articles about how to address picky eaters.  To many people, there is nothing worse than the picky eater.  We grip the sides of the kitchen table and plead with our whole selves.  Let. Me. Feed. You.

Restaurants assume my kids are picky eaters.  Schools assume my kids are picky eaters.  I know picky eaters. I’ve dealt with picky eaters.  My daughters are generally good eaters but they have been picky plenty of times.  Recently, at a talk we gave to a local women’s group there were early questions about how to address picky eaters and when we began giving our thoughts a second quick question followed, “but how old are your kids.”  Meaning, my kids are older and (oh, boy) get ready.  They used to eat well.  I’d be lying if I didn’t start to worry just a little bit about what was ahead for me.

Kids grow and change and stretch out what they are willing to do (and not do) according to our plans.  That’s not going to change.  Quite frankly, I’m doing all of those things too.  I eat chocolate cake when I know an apple is a better choice.  I also feel the freedom to do that.  Kids often don’t.

So, here are the top tips that I’ve read about that work for my family.  Hopefully they will help yours.

1. Don’t give up.  Kids need to try something anywhere from 10-15 times before they like it.  In my house, my latest battle is grains (rice, quinoa, farro).  I make these grains often and serve them night after night in an attempt to lessen the meat consumption of my family (that’s for another time…).  Many times I get complains, whines, rolling of 5-year-old eyes as soon as the meal hits the table.  But I refuse to give up.  I never force them to eat, but they will eat if they are hungry.  Last week, I made one dish that my daughter loved.  Rice!  I tried not to celebrate or make a big deal.  The next time I served rice, she wasn’t interested.  But I know it’s possible so I keep trying.  Don’t give up.

2. Get the kids involved.  Depending on their age, kids can be very helpful and involved in the kitchen.  Mixing ingredients in a bowl, fetching items from the refrigerator, slicing and dicing on the counter top.  Whatever is appropriate.  Aside from asking them what food they like and adding it to the weekly meal plan, you can also involved them at the store level.  Let them choose a new vegetable or fruit.  Kids spend so much time being told what not to do.  They get excited when they feel in charge.  Especially when it comes to what ends up on their plate.

3. Don’t make a big deal about what they eat, but make meal time special.  Throw on a table cloth.  Turn on some soft music.  Turn down the lights and light a candle or two.  Pretend you’re at a restaurant and take turns being the waiter or waitress.  Make it something to look forward to.  Especially if you can find a meal where the whole family is sitting together.

4. Don’t use dessert as a reward for eating.  This is a tough one.  I’ve never done this but my daughters are constantly bombarded with this message.  Eat your dinner and you’ll get dessert.  Eat your dinner or you won’t get your dessert.  Do you want ice cream?  Then you better eat your broccoli.  Tons and tons and tons of research shows that these types of conversations can lead to misinterpretation of what food is used for and good for.  It can create (not prevent) the idea that vegetables (in this case) are “bad” and dessert is “good”.  That vegetables are what we trudge through in order to be rewarded with the good stuff.  In some cases, it has even been shown to lead to eating disorders.  Time and again, we are advised to not make a big deal about food, including dessert.  In my house we have a one bite rule and no matter what happens during dinner, we always serve dessert.

I’m not an expert and I will face more challenges at my table.  But these feel good to me in my house.  What do you do in yours?

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Saying “I Love You Because…” Every Day

Last year at this time I started a fun tradition of reminding my family why I love them.  Initially, it seemed like a cute, fun way to decorate the bedroom doors of my home with heart-filled declarations.  A beautiful side benefit of this activity is that it reminded me how much it means to my daughters to see me love my husband.  They take in everything and smile a little brighter when they see that my love exists as much for him as it does for them.  Since I can often be louder and sloppier about it with them.

love you because 4

love you because 3

Here are just a few of the proclamations that will adorn the walls of my hallway this year:

“I Love You Because”…

– you make funny faces at just the right time

– you trust me

– you make me feel brave

– you love when I’m silly

– you take care of your friends

– you make me laugh

– you truly listen

– you think of others

I put these up on February 1st and finish up on Valentine’s Day.  It makes me feel just as happy as it does them.

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Megan Mondays: Boost your Immune System!

WHAT EXACTLY DOES MEGAN USE IN HER HOME? HERE’S A RUN-DOWN OF MY IMMUNE-ROUTINE STOCKPILE (I am making these recommendations based on my experience with them):

Zinc – my older son (2.5 years old) takes 10 mg of zinc per day as preventative and I up it to 20 mg a day for a few days when sick to give an extra boost. We use one of the following brands: Life Extension, Kirkman Labs, or BrainChild Nutritionals (liquid form)

Astragalus root extract – my son takes this every day as preventative measure. We use BrainChild Nutritionals brand; it’s a liquid form that’s easy to take.

Micellized Vitamin A – what I use for all members of the family at the onset of illness. We only use this for 2 days at a time when sick.  I use Klaire Labs liquid micellized Vitamin A.

Multi Vitamins – on days when the whole food green smoothies didn’t get finished or we were out and about and not eating as many fruits, veggies, and other whole foods that we normally do, I will give a multi vitamin to fill-in the gaps during cold and flu season. I use Kirkman Labs brand chewable wafers with Xylitol.  The xylitol has been shown to help reduce cavities and it’s a better sweetener than sugar (which many common children’s vitamins are full of!)

Vitamin D3I consider this one of my must-haves and my sons take it on a daily basis. I also have their blood serum levels tested about 2 times a year to make sure they are receiving adequate amounts. I use Xymogen Labs liquid Vitamin D3, but also use Nordic Naturals brand and am happy with both.

Elderberry syrup – My sons also take elderberry syrup each day, with an increased dose during illness. I feel tht this has helped curb lengthiness of viral infections (like bronchitis) and it also helps with coughs.  I found an awesome homemade Organic Elderberry Syrup creator and distributor that will mail to your home.  She makes a syrup with local honey and a tincture (w/out honey) for babies and people sensitive to honey.  You can find her products here (no affiliate bonus; I just love her product and feel that it’s worthy to recommend!): http://www.naturallywellwithsamantha.com

Colostrum – we use Immulox spray, but have recently switched to using a powder form of immune-boosting polypeptides called IgG 2000 by Xymogen Labs. It mixes easily into smoothies, etc. and it’s also great for use after antibiotics and/or with digestive issues.  Please note both products are made with dairy, so those with dairy sensitivities cannot take.  There are non-dairy forms on the market, though.

Vitamin C immune blend – we usually take this at times when exposure to illness has happened or illness is coming on. I also give it with iron if my son needs to periodically take iron for a low ferritin level we’ve been dealing with since age 1.  It’s naturally flavored and kids like that it’s a liquid.  I use Brain Child Nutritionals brand.

Probioticsmy son has received probiotic supplements since birth, and I have routinely taken them for about 6 years now. I have noticed a huge improvement overall in my health, in addition to my digestion and immunity.  I use Kirkman Labs because they have a formula that is resilient to die-off (which is common with probiotics).  They also take stringent measures to keep probiotics refrigerated at all times during manufacture and transport, which is what a consumer should look for.  Probiotics that sit on a shelf tend to have little benefit by the time they reach the consumer.  I increase the dosage at times of illness and after antibiotics have been administered (which is not often)

Omegaswe are big on omegas in our house. The first line of consumption is through omega-rich foods like chia seeds, flax, nuts, and oils, especially since we don’t eat fish.  We use Nordic Naturals and Xymogen brand (pure cod liver oil).

Immune-building herb mix – Wish Garden Herbs company has a great array of immune-boosting herbs to use during specific illnesses.

Essential oils – I use Oreganol brand oil during times of illness, but also really like Frankincense, Tea Tree, Lemon, Clove, Cinnamin, oregano, Thieves, etc. for using in the home, on the skin, and even ingesting (for adults, only – the oils are too potent for children and there are not enough studies on oil use with children).

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