Almost all the birthdays in our family fall in two major chunks.
The first is the end of June to the beginning of July. There are four birthdays in that time.
The second is the last two weeks of September and the first week of October. We also have four birthdays in that time.
So we just finished up the second birthday rush hour for our family tonight.
Number 2 and Number 7 both had birthdays last week, but Number 2 is away at college, so we had a joint birthday celebration with Grammy and Papa tonight.
But it seems like we’ve had cake and ice cream in this house for like that last twenty days, and so today I told the kids there would be no junk before we had the final cake tonight.
No chips, no crackers, no garbage.
And no pizza for dinner which usually ends up being the default meal on birthday celebrations — especially when birthdays fall on busy weeknights.
Today the weather here in CT was more like summer than fall, so I decided I’d barbecue a bunch of food. All seven kids were home, and my parents came up, so there were eleven of us and I grilled a ton of chicken breasts and chicken drumsticks and some steak and cheeseburgers and sausage and I broiled some baby potatoes and made a caesar salad. I made enough food that we’d have a bunch of stuff left over to eat for the week ahead.
But that took a while, and the kids were going to be hungry. But I did not want to give them the usual birthday “party” garbage that we often have before hand.
I also know that I don’t really feed the kids enough vegetables.
Sometimes I do, but it seems that when we are in a rush and doing a lot of driving to practices, the veggies are the first thing to go.
Today I was thinking about this blog post I read a couple weeks ago entitled A Simple Mealtime Hack That Will Get Kids to Eat Vegetables from themilitarywife.com
A good friend once told me, “A hungry child is a child who eats.”…
I decided to try a method from Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota. She’s been studying eating habits for more than 20 years, and she says that in order to get your kids to eat vegetables you have to remove the vegetable’s competition.
The strategy is called “get alone with the vegetable.”
Basically what her research shows is that when vegetables are paired with other enticing foods, the vegetable will always lose to the competition. Kids will eat the enticing foods enough to feel satiated, and just like my own kids did, they will push the vegetables aside. By removing the vegetable’s competition altogether, the kids have only one choice to eat — vegetables.
I thought about that.
My kids were going to be pretty hungry.
Now my kids are not toddlers, and they aren’t really picky eaters, either. So I don’t really need to “entice” them to eat vegetables.
But when they have the choice between veggies and other stuff, most of them will go for the other stuff.
And on birthdays we are usually pretty lax about the food choices, but by today we had all eaten so much junk I was feeling slightly neglectful.
Instead of filling a few bowls on the dining room table with pretzels and chips and a bunch of other crap, I put out fruit and veggies. I put out a huge tray full of carrots and celery and red peppers. (Okay, there was also ranch dressing there).
And then I cut up about six pears and put those on another plate.
I expected some complaints and some questions.
Are there any chips?
Is this all you are giving us to eat???
But you know what?
There wasn’t one complaint.
And they pretty much picked clean both plates!
It totally worked!
About fifteen minutes later we all ate the burgers and chicken and steak, and then we had some cake and ice cream. So we ate some junk, but it was preceded by a bunch of good stuff.
And I felt really good about what the kids had eaten.
So I share this if you are having a hard time getting your kids to eat vegetables with their meals.
If you change your approach, eliminate the competition, and offer only one option, there is a very good chance you will have success.
I know because I have a seven, eight, nine, twelve, thirteen, nineteen and twenty-one-year-old, and it worked with all of them.
If only I had figured this out sooner!