New Year’s resolutions or changes in children’s diet: how to do it and what to watch out for

The arrival of a new year often brings new opportunities and a fresh start. Perhaps for you too, this period becomes an ideal moment for setting resolutions not only for yourself, but also for your children. Deciding to pay attention and address your children’s eating difficulties as part of your New Year’s goals is a commendable intention and can lead to positive changes not only for the child, but especially for your entire family. However, it is important to remember that while the new year is a great opportunity to initiate change, it is essential to approach it with moderation and discretion.

When dealing with pickiness in young children, it is important to remember that rapid and radical changes can be stressful for a child and lead to negative reactions. Gradual and sensitive adaptation of eating habits with an emphasis on patience and positive experiences is far more effective and brings longer-term results. Therefore, although the new year is a great opportunity to make changes, it is important to remember that the journey to better eating habits should be gradual and full of understanding.

Author

Mgr. Jitka Ludvíčková

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Default situation and resolution

Before introducing any changes, it is important to understand the child’s current relationship with food. Pickiness in food can often be a manifestation of the developmental stage when the child is learning to express his preferences. It can also be a way of expressing independence or a response to stress and insecurities. Accepting this fact is the first step to understanding and developing a strategy to deal with this behavior.

Setting realistic goals

Setting realistic and achievable goals is key to success. Instead of parents demanding that the child suddenly start eating everything – or food categories that are not currently in their diet in any form, it is better to set smaller, but specific goals. An example could be introducing one new food a day or a sensory play involving food once a week.

Gradual introduction of changes

Sudden and radical changes can be stressful for a child. We recommend introducing changes gradually. An example would be slowly introducing new foods to familiar meals, such as serving a small amount of new vegetables with a favorite meal – for example, half a round of cucumber with a favorite pasta dish. Another important strategy is to teach the child that just because something is served on their plate does not automatically mean that they have to eat or taste the food. Gradual exposure to a given non-preferred food is often the first step to include it in the menu. However, if the child is stressed by the presence of food on the plate or in personal space (due to previous experiences of pressure to taste), it will be difficult for him to get to know new foods. The popular trick that says that when a child sees a food or food on your plate, they will want to taste it, does not work for many children. If it’s not on the kid’s plate, it’s not their problem.

Perseverance and positive experience

It is important for parents to persevere in their efforts, even if immediate results do not come. That’s why small goals are so important. The smaller the target, the greater the probability of success. Positive experience and your praise when the child makes even small progress are very effective. On the contrary, in case of failure, it is necessary to take the situation very neutrally. A negative reaction on your part could rather act as a prevention of testing in the future.

Flexibility

Every child is unique and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. Parents should be open to adapting their approach as needed and should be prepared to experiment with different techniques and strategies. Examples include trying different textures or temperatures of foods, or offering new foods in a different context (such as an outdoor picnic). Of course, the ideal situation and the ultimate goal would be for the child to sit down at the table and eat everything on the plate. However, the path to this state often simply requires a lot of work on your part and/or the need to adjust expectations.

Involvement of the child

Involving your child in choosing and preparing meals can be an effective way to increase their interest in food. This may include choosing groceries when shopping or helping with cooking. In this way, the child can learn more about food and be more motivated to taste it. But in no case do not expect that if the child helps to cook something with pleasure, he will immediately taste it with the same pleasure. But you significantly increase the child’s positive experience with the given food, even if perhaps without tasting it yet.

Help

It is completely natural and there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Every parent can reach a point where they feel they need support, advice or just reassurance that they are on the right track. Remember that by asking for help, you are showing strength and determination to be the best parent you can be for your child.

Conclusion

With a new year for you, this period can be a time of new beginnings and an opportunity to make changes in your children’s eating habits. However, once you dive into everyday life, it’s important to remember that lasting change takes time, patience, and persistence.
Your New Year’s resolutions can give you motivation and direction, but real progress comes with gradual, deliberate steps. By involving the child, adapting the approach and seeking support from experts, you can create the conditions for successful and lasting changes in eating habits. Remember that every small step towards better eating habits is an important achievement worth celebrating. Remember the value of a gradual and loving approach to implementing any changes. Remember that every day offers a new opportunity to learn, grow, and improve—not just at the beginning of the year, but throughout it.

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