Mindset Matters with Picky Eating

I have been known to tell my kids, “You will eat it, and you’ll like it.”

Don’t worry, I’m not forcing my kids to eat. Or to like whatever they eat, for that matter.

But now that my kids are older, this phrase has recently become a joke in our family. Let me explain…

We eat as a family most nights. I prepare real-food meals that are nourishing and free of overly processed foods and usually refined carbohydrates. And to avoid having to cook every night, I often (usually one or two times per week) plan ahead in my meal planning to have leftovers.

As you can imagine with three kids, sometimes these meals are not well received by at least one person–the first time around, or even less likely the second time around in the same week. (Frankly, sometimes even I don’t want to eat the same thing twice, even if I liked it the first time!)

So one day, I quipped a comical response to the complaints, “you will eat it and you will like it”. We laughed, they ate what I served, and now they regularly mimic me saying it…

(Of course, they also love mimicking our visiting friend’s four-year-old, who took one bite of my cooking and exclaimed in disgust, “Blecck!” At least my kids had the good sense not to do that to me back when they were four!)

The forcefulness of my statement “you will eat it and like it” was definitely meant as a joke. But in all seriousness, I also said, “I’m sorry if you don’t especially love what I’ve made for you.”

The food I provide every night is what I’ve chosen to make (although I often take preferences into account) and it’s nourishing, usually good, and always edible.

And since it’s the only option on the menu du jour, we all have the choice to eat it or not–if we can make it to breakfast. (We eat late enough, and got in the habit of not having snacks after dinner while the kids were little to encourage better eating at dinnertime. Turns out this is better for circadian rhythms and sleeping, too.)

Mindset Matters

On the other hand, “you will eat it and like it” is also a way of saying, “If you try it and set your mind to liking it, you will.” Mindset is a powerful tool we can manipulate to shape our experiences in life. (And this is helpful in many ways beyond food.)

Although it has nothing to do with food, you might be interested in the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. The book was recommended to me a few years ago by one of my girls’ favorite teachers and it is one of the most influential books I’ve read.

It helps you foster a growth mindset (as opposed to a fixed mindset) to create motivation in education, business or whatever you do! It’s also vital to parenting, as we foster our children’s lifelong learning style.

So, keep a positive mindset in mind while you fix and prepare dinner for your family! And encouraging your kids to help you choose and prepare the meals will help them enjoy them more.

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