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The One Thing You Can Do to Help Your Kids Be Better Eaters

15 November 2013

This morning I was talking with a friend of mine while our toddlers played. Since she knows that I have this blog, she was asking me some questions about things that she could do to help her two year old be more adventurous in his eating. Conversations like this are always a little uncomfortable. I want to help without sounding like a know it all, and I also don't ever want my friends to think that I am judging them or their parenting based on how their kids eat (I promise you friend, reader, mom in the grocery store, I'm NOT judging you, really.)

When I came home, I felt uneasy because I really wasn't sure that I suggested anything at all that would actually help her. I felt like all I did was throw random suggestions at her while asking her questions that may have made her feel even more inadequate.

The worst thing about this is that she has already been making some changes. She has already had some success. The discussion started with that and yet, somehow, by the end, we were talking about the things that he wasn't eating and the things that weren't working, rather than the things that were.

And here's the thing, when friends or readers ask me questions, I sometimes feel the need to give lots of suggestions. When instead, I should be asking one question:

What is it that bothers you the most? Or, put a different way, what is the one thing that you would most like to change? 

Do you want to be able to make dinner and have everyone sit down and eat together in peace?
Do you want your kids to eat more vegetables? (any vegetables?)
Do you want your kids to eat a better variety of foods?
Do you want your kids to eat less candy? chips?
Do you want your kids to eat something? (anything?)
Would you like your family to eat more whole foods and less processed foods?
Would you like to be able to pack a lunch and have your kid actually eat it?
Do you want your kids to snack less?
Do you (like me 2 years ago) want your kids to eat breakfast, one time, and be satisfied?

Once you know the answer to this question, then you can gather suggestions and ideas that help you to address the one thing you would like to change.

But here's the most important part, once you have that list, pick one thing from that list to put into action. That's it. One Thing. Your own, "one thing." Pick something that will be the easiest for you or pick the thing that will make the most impact based on what it is that you would like to achieve.

So if you are struggling with your kids eating. Here are your action steps:

1. Decide the one thing that you would most like to change. (If you want to, share #1 in the comments so that we can all help with #2)
2. Gather suggestions for dealing with that particular area of change.
3. Choose one suggestion, one thing, to work on for now.

GO :)

*A few months ago, I picked up the book The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and though I only skimmed it, the idea of choosing one thing to focus on really resonated with me because it is pretty much the opposite of the way I would operate naturally! The book (or my interpretation of it) partially inspired this post.


  1. Great stuff, Julie! I cannot wait to read more. And I can completely resonate with your feelings in this post... not wanting people to feel like you are looking down on them just because you do things one way in your home and they do it differently.

    1. Thanks so much Carissa! I was a little nervous to push "publish," on this one, so your comment means a lot!

  2. This is such great advice. You could even look at it this way: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time... Focusing one issue makes the bigger picture seem less overwhelming. I've been dealing with a major fussy eater for almost 2 years now and about 6 months ago I thought I was going to have a breakdown over it and the accompanying stress it was causing in the family. We're not much further along with improving her eating but we've managed to remove the tension and stress from our family meals by focusing on that one issue. The one thing I'd most like to improve is getting my daughter to taste new food or even food she used to eat but has forgotten she used to like/love (!). She just point blank refuses to taste anything new and her diet is so restricted.

    1. I would say that if you've been able to remove the tension and stress from meals, that's a huge step in the right direction!! As for your "one thing," I think that the guest post I have planned for Monday may be just what you need right now! The author was dealing with the exact same issue that you describe (specially, her son forgetting what he used to love!) I'm excited for you to see the post!!


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