By Guest Blogger Alona Orofino

Feeding a toddler is hard work. As a parent, you want to ensure they eat enough and eat the things that are rich in nutrients. We resort to all sorts of methods to get them to eat. For example, we use forms like bribing, threatening and everything in between. However, what if there was a way to relieve the stress of mealtime while fostering a healthy relationship with food in our kids?

Well, I would propose that it’s possible and even preferable to the alternative that most of us grew up enduring. So how do we break the cycle and raise an Intuitive Eater? Let’s explore it.

Four Steps to Raising an Intuitive Eater

Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food

The first thing we need to recognize as parents is that our relationship with food directly affects our children. Even if we don’t place the same rules on our children that we do on ourselves, our behaviors with food still impact them. Toddlers are smart and they pick up on literally everything. Things like denying yourself sweets, talking about food in moral terms (good/bad), or simply not making the time to sit and eat with your kids all contribute to both how they will view food and what their behaviors around food will be. Before you focus too much on fixing your toddler’s eating habits, first consider your own.

Find a Food Routine

The second consideration is how you are feeding your kid(s). As a parent, we can control some things when it comes to food. These things include when we serve food, what we serve, and where we serve it. Things out of our control include what they will eat on said plate and how much they will eat. A toddler thrives most around food when there is consistency, so finding a routine around meals and snacks is important. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but consistency really is key here. And with that regularity, you can be sure that if they don’t have enough at one meal or snack, then they will have the opportunity to make up for it.

Add in Variety

The third consideration is one that considers variety. I know full well that with a toddler, especially a picky one, it’s easy to stick to the things that you know they’ll potentially eat. In addition, while it’s important to include at least one food in each meal and snack that they won’t scrunch their noses at, it’s also important to continue to introduce new foods. Even as adults, we struggle with variety. However, variety is the absolute best consistent way to feed your kid(s) multiple nutrients. So, keep trying!

Make it Fun

In addition, speaking of trying, the final consideration is FUN. Yes, fun. Food, eating, and cooking can all be fun. It’s important we don’t take everything so seriously all the time. Let your toddler play with their food, and to get them involved. Let them cook with you (even though it’s messier). Encourage them to use their senses when eating and when trying new foods. Moreover, be an example, by showing how much you love food and how they can enjoy everything from spinach to chocolate to parmesan. As an added bonus, you can talk about how your body functions with food. About how it gives us energy and nutrients we need to thrive.

Feeding your kiddo(s) isn’t about perfection. Nevertheless, it can be about fostering a healthy relationship with food and giving them the tools they need to find enjoyment and nourishment in their eating experiences, from childhood to adulthood.

Alona Orofino is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor with a Masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health. She received her training from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Alona is a mom to two boys, Alessio and Emilio.

Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletters here.