Iyasu’s Metaphysical Nutrition for Parents
Tips on Handling Picky Eaters
By Stephanie Kato, Metaphysical Intuitive
One of the most challenging aspects of raising small children is the food issue. If you are a parent needing some help with frustrating nutritional issues in your home, I present different perspectives on how to calm food battles…and offer tips on self-healing at the same time!
I am a firm believer that the challenging elements of life are beautiful blessings in disguise. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you are encouraging, coaxing, pleading, threatening, bartering or possibly manipulating (no judgment) your child to eat his/her broccoli but rest assured that if you adopt a certain perspective, each stressful moment can be accepted and viewed from a place of gratitude.
As a Metaphysical Intuitive Healer specializing in metaphysical colon health, a majority of my time is working directly with clients connecting their colon issues with their control issues. Several years may have passed since many adults were children and one can forget what it is like to be a child inside a home where much of their lives are structured and controlled by someone else. Children can only control two things growing up: what goes into and what comes out of their bodies. Feeling vulnerable and out of control is not fun for anyone but exponentially greater within children because not knowing how to process the vulnerabilities they feel can be quite intense.
We learn who we are, how we are to behave, how we feel (or not), what we believe in – all from our families of origin. And they learn it from their families and so on, and so on and so on. Every family has their own way of handling emotions. Some are very expressive while others hold feelings in. Certain emotions are acceptable while others are not. Some people pass down what was taught and modeled and others choose a different way of being when they create their own family. When family dynamics require us to behave a certain way, it can create stress and food is one of the first ways we learn how to manage it.
Belief systems and emotional intelligence are something we learn as little wee ones. We learn to use food (or the lack thereof) as a way to manage fear and anxiety if food is used as a distraction to feeling feelings in the family we are born into. We also learn to hold onto feelings and emotions if that is required in our family. A baby doesn’t know who they are, they take their cues from their parents and embark on their journey of self-discovery as they grow.
** Important disclaimer **
So much of what I am sharing is happening at the unconscious levels of our being. My intention is not to judge anyone or any families. We are all human beings doing the best we can. However, when families desire change, we must be willing to look at ourselves and our family dynamics to understand what is being created and why. This is the first step in making healthy and positive changes for everyone in the family, not just for the picky eater.
So what causes a child to be a picky eater? There may be several reasons why:
- They might be expressing a need to control and this is how they can do it.
- There may be controlling personalities (with food or other issues) within the family and the child is aligning with the control they see being expressed by these family members.
- They may be a “texture” person and need to discover a way to eat a particular type of food in a new way.
- They don’t like what is being offered. Every human being has food preferences and children are no different.
- Certain foods have an addictive nature to them (sugar, refined carbs, potatoes to name a few) and they only want to eat these types of foods because it makes them feel good/comforted/happy.
- They may have an overgrowth of yeast and/or parasites creating strong cravings for foods that will feed these organisms. (It is possible for overgrowth of yeast and/or parasites to be passed from mother to child over generations without anyone realizing this is happening. A good indication of this is with eczema and other skin issues.)
- There may be stress and unhappiness between the parents or other family members that feels out of control and too vulnerable for the child. Controlling their food is an innate coping mechanism that many children use to manage the fear they feel but cannot express.
- Their body may require something different from other family members require and teaching them to listen to the wisdom of their body can be a teaching moment for the child to learn to trust oneself. (I am a proponent for the blood type diet but working with a nutritionist can be a good way to understand what each person in the family may need to attain health and well-being.)
The following are tips we can use to understand the picky eater and actually bond the family together. Depending on the age and mental/emotional capacity of the child, parents can create open communication, emotional validation and experiences that can make family meals fun and welcoming as opposed to going into “battle” with dread.
- Shift your perspective to welcome whatever this experience is teaching the parents about themselves. Ask yourself:
- “How was food used/seen in my family of origin?”
- “Is this how I use it today in my family and do I wish to continue?”
- “Do I use food to control/distract myself from feeling my feelings (emotional eating) and if so, am I willing to take responsibility for modeling this to my children?”
- Ask your child why they like this type of food and not another type of food.
- Is there a need they have that is not be honored or validated?
- Could they be “picky” as a way to get your attention (positive or negative)?
- When they eat the food, how does it make them feel?
- Can you provide an alternative that can satiate them emotionally that doesn’t involve food?
If control is the issue, tips on appeasing control:
If your child is displaying control around food, I encourage you not to engage in a power struggle. It would most likely end with your child digging their heels in further. Try these tips:
- Acknowledge the issue – “I see you don’t want to eat your vegetables.”
- Validate feelings around issue – “You feel angry that I am asking you to eat them.”
- Give positive “yes” choices
- “You can have this or that” – avoid open ended questions– “What do you want to eat?”
- “You can have more of this when you eat that” (I would give my kids a little bit of something they wanted next to some veggies. I affirmed they could have more of what they wanted when they ate what was healthy for them. Yes, I admit this was manipulative on my part.)
- “I will give you a choice and if you can’t or don’t choose, I will choose for you.”
- Each family member gets to choose the meal 1 Thursday/month. This will help them feel in control.
- Lettuce / brown rice tortilla wraps – give healthy choices for fillings that they choose themselves. One of the best ways to appease control is letting them choose what they want. Your children can help you put different fillings in bowls and each person can fill their lettuce or brown rice tortillas with whatever they choose. You can put out hummus, guacamole, veggies, protein and everyone can make their wrap the way they would enjoy.
- Honoring and respecting personal food choices – Although children are little but they know what feels right for them and this teaches them to listen to their body. For example, my daughter knew she didn’t like mushrooms from a very young age. There was no reason for me to press the issue. I validated her preference and she ate something else. This made her feel honored and respected. Today she makes choices that are her own and her diet is balanced.
- Don’t be afraid to be a firm parent. I used a mantra that my children understood -“This is not a restaurant”.
Some fun ways to introduce new foods:
- You can have a fun family taste test:
- Choose a food that is healthy but your child doesn’t want to eat. Cook it three different ways and have everyone in the family sit down and choose the way they like it the best. Sometimes it’s the way a food is prepared and the child doesn’t realize they like the broccoli, just not cooked so it is squishy. A lot of people have problems with squishy food. Zucchini is a good example of a squishy food that can be grated, juice squeezed out in cheese cloth (the kids can do this!), seasoned, oiled and baked until crispy. Texture is a big thing for people, not just children.
- Rainbow foods
- It is healthy to eat from a colorful rainbow of food daily. It can be tempting for parents to allow children to control which foods they will eat instead of exposing them to a variety of food. Parents do this mostly to avoid tantrums and headaches, which is understandable. What if you could introduce new foods to your children and they welcomed it?
- First, purchase a rainbow colored plastic bucket online. Here is one from Party City you can use.
- Second, explain to your children how nature provides food for every color of the rainbow. Google different fruits and veggies by their color. Then, every week take the bucket and go to the grocery store and buy produce in the color of the week. Week 1 can be red foods: beets, radishes, apples, strawberries, etc. Week 2 can be purple foods: purple sweet potatoes, cabbage, etc..
- Have your children put each item in their bucket. The more involved they are, the more invested they become. It is important that children are invested in their food and participate in its procurement. You also teach them to appreciate the time and effort you make to shop, prepare and serve their food.
- Invite them to wash and help prepare the food. You can put salad items in different bowls and the children can make the salad in one large bowl. Depending on their ages, they can help cut and/or grate fruits and veggies.
- Do your best to make the meal experience a joyful one for everyone in the family. This way family meals are associated with fun and happiness instead of stress and tension.
Please click here to view my free full-length video at my online school. I discuss the following issues in Iyasu’s Metaphysical Nutrition for Parents:
- Maintaining healthy lifestyles while raising small children
- Two income and challenges preparing meals
- Handling picky eaters and how to avoid food battles
Thank you for your willingness to understand the complexities around food and your child. Since our relationship with food lasts a lifetime, the precedence you set for your family is worth the time and effort necessary to instill healthy relationships with the metaphysical aspects of mealtime.