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Tuesday Tip for Picky Eaters: Learn to Trust Your Child

Henry's appetite varies greatly from week to week. His preferences for each food group also change frequently. I have a difficult time predicting what his latest food fad will be and when tried-and-true favorites may fall out of fashion.
  • Some weeks, Henry will seem to gorge himself on fruit, but last week he refused blueberries (always a sure bet) in favor of a peanut butter sandwich at snack time.
  • Henry can go for several weeks wanting yogurt with breakfast everyday, and then one day even the act of me placing the yogurt container on the kitchen table brought him to a sudden teary outburst.
  • A few weeks ago it was BREAD, BREAD, BREAD. Then on the day after Christmas, Henry started passing over carbs in favor of protein -- meat, fish, beans and cheese. He astonishingly ate three pork ribs and one-and-a-half chicken enchiladas for dinner that night.
What will Henry want to eat today?
From the start, this journey has been about learning to trust Henry to eat (or not to eat). It can be so discouraging when Henry dismantles his sandwich to pick out one favorite ingredient or when he only wants a few bites of the meal that I've worked hard to prepare. 

But I believe that Henry has learned how to listen to his stomach. Some days his body is telling him that it wants extra carbohydrates for energy. Other days, he has to have plenty of protein for growth. The experts say it can help to evaluate your child's eating over the course of a week or more, instead of at just one meal. As long as I continue to present him with a balanced array of healthy food choices, I am trusting that he can select the nutrients his body requires to grow healthy and strong.
Henry listens to his stomach.
I also know that Henry can listen to his own appetite. He understands when his body is full and we don't pressure him to eat more than he wants or to clean his plate. There are no back-up menu items when he turns down a meal and no grazing on snacks between meals. On more than one occasion I have actually seen him turn down dessert when he has already had enough to eat at dinner. 

If you are struggling with the eating whims of a toddler, be patient and persistent. As long as your child is active and healthy, it's okay to trust that he is eating as much (or as little) as he needs.

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