My parenting style differs so much from my husband’s style, especially when it comes to mealtimes. I can tell he was rewarded with treats as a child, because he is emulating that with our young twins.
He’s so excited to give them ice cream and candy and talks up sweets and junk food. He’s eager to share these foods he loves so much with our little ones. I catch myself telling my husband not to put too much emphasis on the cookie. Doesn’t a chocolate chip cookie speak for itself? It tells me to eat it 😉
I constantly tell my husband that when you talk up one food, it almost implies that the other food isn’t as good. That being said, I needed proof in order for my husband to start changing the way he positions food to our twins.
As a part of my own personal journey to feed my twins, I started reading the book, War & Peas by Jo Cormack. It’s less than 85 pages and is jam-packed with insights. I highly recommend reading it!!
About the Book War & Peas
Cormack takes the reader on a journey to understand how we as parents can cause our children to have an unhealthy relationship with food through her book War & Peas. Wait! I’m going to cause my child to eat ice cream out of the carton when they are sad in the future? Oh No!. So what do I have to do… Luckily, Cormack clears a path to help understand why this happens and suggests concrete ways to start fixing the issues.
Cormack provides insights on ways parents can change how we position food to our kids. It was eye opening to read how many misconceptions there are about our relationship with food. Yes, we have a love/hate relationship with food. Mostly just love until we need to lose weight, then it definitely becomes hate.
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Here are the main takeaways from the book, War & Peas.
- Children eat to survive. They don’t have an emotional relationship with food, yet. They don’t eat because they are sad. They eat because they need the calories to grow. They are the best judge of how much to eat, not you.
- You, as the parent, need to be completely neutral about their eating. Try not to praise or criticize how much they are eating. And hide your frustration about how the meal is going. It will get better!
- Stop being a short-order cook. They eat what you cook them.* I personally know how hard this one can be!!
- It’s ok if they don’t eat their meal, but there should not be any substitutions or extra snacks later because they are hungry.
- Do NOT use food as a reward or punishment. As an example, if you eat your peas you can have ice cream. And the punishment could be, since you didn’t eat your peas, you won’t be getting any ice cream.
- Don’t label your child as a picky eater or fussy, as child psychologists will tell you that children often live up to the label.
- Let your child get hungry. Hunger is good right before a meal. They are more likely to try new foods when they are hungry. Watch how many snacks and fluids (milk and juice) they are drinking before meals. Check out the article, how much should my child be drinking for more info.
*It’s important to identify if your child has normal picky eat behaviors or a possible feeding disorder, which needs to be addressed by a professional. Speak with your Pediatrician for further evaluation
Here Are the Author’s NO, NOs for Parents to Follow With Their Children:
- Cajoling– here comes the choo, choo.
- Reasoning- do you want to grow big and strong like Uncle Bill?
- Incentivizing- if you eat your broccoli, then you can get a new toy or sticker.
- Comparison- your little sister eats all of her green beans.
- The authoritarian approach- Because I SAID SO!!!
- Negotiating– have a few more bites and you can watch TV or have ice cream.
- Pleading- try another piece of chicken, please.
A big takeaway from the book is “children prefer negative attention to no attention.” In a lot of ways, their behavior at the dinner table is another big avenue for attention, good or bad. They know how frustrated you become about them not eating and it almost incites them to keep it up.
As mentioned, I love how the book is jam-packed with insights, ideas and suggestions.
You can buy War & Peas from our Amazon store.
I am opening up this topic for conversation. What are your thoughts about these recommendations? Do you do some of them at home? What is your personal relationship with food and are you modeling this for your child?
Share your thoughts on kids health in the comments.