Last night, Lee related a story of a patient who refuses to drink milk. He actually gets this problem relatively frequently. One mother reports that her children refuse to eat anything besides hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, or chicken strips. Another mother tells him that she cannot keep her children from eating the chips and cookies in their house. And school lunches pose a host of parental battles that involve food.
Here is what he tells the mothers: When your child is thirsty, give him milk. If he refuses it, simply tell him that the milk is available when he should want it. Or you can inform the child that he can have his desired beverage after drinking a satisfactory amount of milk.
Lee reminds parents that children do not starve themselves. They eat unhealthful food because we give it to them. It helps if you serve a variety of healthful foods. Allowing children to help prepare dinner, or while shopping, allowing them to choose a vegetable for dinner also helps. So does making sure children try a bite or two of everything placed on their plate. Don’t make a second (or third) meal for children who eat only mac and cheese. If they eat, great. If they don’t, they have to wait for the next meal. They’ll eat when they’re hungry.
If we give our children cookies an hour or two before dinner, it’s no wonder that they aren’t hungry for a more substantial meal. The solution is to stop giving them snacks. Stop buying snacks. If snacks are not present in the house, we won’t eat them.
(School is another story, but that’s for another day)
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