Work with Me About Podcast FREE TRAINING Login

When do I need to seek professional help for my picky eater?

 

Jennifer Anderson MSPH RDN is a registered dietician that has a Master's of Science in Public Health. In 2017 she founded Kids Eat In Color (@kids.eat.in.color), a HUGE (1.8 Million followers) resource that helps children and families have better nutrition and mental health.

You will find her harm reduction lens with a focus on a parent's mental health and heavy dose of reality and humanity REFRESHING.

In this episode, we cover common misconceptions around food that she is working to debunk that make us feel like we're failing.   She speaks to the big principles or best practices that can help guide you to feel more confident in the minefield of feeling like nearly every food is bad for you. 

And most importantly, she wants you to know your best is exactly what your child needs.

Important questions answered:

  • Can picky eating be prevented?
  • Is family-style dining best?
  • Is picky eating a worldwide phenomenon?


DON'T MISS...

  • the 4 types of picky eating
  • when to seek professional help
  • how to take dessert of it's pedestal
  • what to do when your child won't pick from two options


// CONNECT WITH JENNIFER ANDERSON //
IG: @kids.eat.in.color
Is my child's picky eating normal? QUIZ - https://kidseatincolor.com/quiz/
https://kidseatincolor.com/
  

*FREE* MASTERCLASS: Learn how to CONFIDENTLY parent your strong-willed child WITHOUT threats, bribes or giving in altogether so you can BREAK FREE of power struggles + guilt
www.parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic

 

I believe in you & I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.

 


TRANSCRIPT


Jennifer Anderson:  

So I think if you are kind of like experiencing those red flags along with high levels of stress where you're like, Man, you used to eat everything.... And over and over and over, they're eating less and less and less foods. And now they're not eating any fruits and vegetables, and now they're not eating any dairy products. And now they're, you know, they're just like dropping categories, and they're dropping foods off their list. That's when you're like, Okay, I do need some more support. And there may be times where, like, I'm not ready to work on this right now. And other times when you're like, you know what, this is something that I do want to work on that I do want to help my child and finding that place as soon as you do have the capacity can really help your child health wise, and also help them long term.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety, not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here. Hey, it's Danielle. I don't know about you, but at my house, getting food on the table and getting kids to eat said food is a daily point of contention and stress. It feels like if you don't have a picky eater at your house, you are the exception to the rule. And there are so many things to get right or get wrong when it comes to food that I knew that we needed to talk about this on Failing Motherhood. The guilt and the pressure surrounding our daily choices of what food to buy, what food to cook, how to serve it, and what our kids eat feels incredibly overwhelming for even the average parent, let alone one that has a kiddo rejecting nearly everything on their plate or falling off the growth chart. With inflation rising and affecting food prices, and picky eating coming up with almost every client I work with. I knew I had to have Jennifer from @kids.eat.in.color on the show. I knew she was the one to talk to because I guarantee after listening to this episode, she will help you feel like you are doing better than you think you are and you will feel lighter as a result. Jennifer Anderson is a registered dietician that has a Master's of Science in Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. In 2017 she founded Kids Eat In Color, a resource that helps children and families have better nutrition and mental health. Prior to starting kids eat in color she coordinated youth nutrition programs at a food bank, performed research in inner city food deserts and consultant for the USDA National Office SNAP ed program. Her academic background is in public health, nutrition, cultural anthropology and economics. So in this episode, we cover common misconceptions around food that she is working to debunk that make us feel like we're failing, like whether or not you can prevent picky eating. She shares the four types of picky eating- what's going on and what's causing them - the red flags to look out for and how to know if it's time to seek professional help. She speaks to the big principles or best practices that can help guide you to feel more confident in the minefield of feeling like nearly every food is bad for you. She shares her principle of not "yucking" someone else's "Yum" and how to teach that to your kids. And most importantly, she wants you to know your best is exactly what your child needs. So without further ado, here is my interview with Jennifer. Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann and on today's episode, I'm joined by Jennifer Anderson. Welcome Jennifer, thank you so much for being here.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Absolutely. Thanks, Danielle. I'm so excited.

Danielle Bettmann:  

I just told you that I could probably pick your brain for like three hours. Personally, if I could like make this my own therapy session about picky eating, but we're not going to do that we're going to talk about shame and failing with food and all of the things that we need to know as moms to help us feel a little bit better about how we're feeding our kids. And I've followed you forever. But if you are new to my listeners, just go ahead and introduce yourself, who are you and who's in your family?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Sure. So my name is Jennifer, I founded @kids.eat.in.color because my own son began to fall off the growth chart when he was very young, like a year old. And years later, he's three years old, he's going to preschool and making these cute little lunches. And I thought, You know what, I remember standing in my kitchen thinking, You know what, I can not be the only parent having a really hard time feeding my child. I felt very alone. And so I started a new Instagram page. And now we're a huge resource for families all over the world, millions of families, we have a whole team. And I just love providing both evidence based information to moms and dads and grandmas and aunts. You know, all that. And also doing it in a way that allows people to do what's best for them.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, that was the point I also just made to you, before we hit record is, out of all the food accounts that I have come across, yours is my favorite, because it feels like you make a very concerted effort to reinforce to every parent that their best is what their child needs. And accessibility and social equity are really important to you as a company. And like you can't talk about kids needing to eat fruits and veggies without recognizing that they need to be able to buy them in the first place. And I just see that that's like such a passion for you. And it's not talked about as much as it needs to be. So where did that come from? Who were you before you had your son?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, so I started right out of college, I had a degree in anthropology. And I started working at a food bank. I coordinated their youth nutrition programs. And I saw kids who did not have dinners outside of school, would it not be for school lunches, or summer feeding programs, the kids didn't have food, there were kids who had never seen broccoli, who had never seen baby carrots. And I thought you know what nutrition is such an integral part of communities and families and children. A kid can't learn when they're hungry. And so having started working in the hunger, space, hunger relief stays, it's always at the forefront of my mind. You know, my family. When I was growing up, my family didn't have any money my parents worked in, well, my dad worked in the nonprofit sector and made a salary below the poverty level. And so I watched my mom take that money and wrap it around the block three times to make it work and to make sure we had enough food, but it was a lot of work. And so as I am speaking to parents, it's always at the forefront, that they may not have the capacity to do something like that, or they may not have funds, or they may not food that's accessible to them. To me, why are we even talking about food if we're not acknowledging that not everybody has the resources needed to eat according to some idealistic standard? Yeah.

Danielle Bettmann:  

And I saw that too. I was working at Headstart, early headstart programs, I did home visiting for several years with Save the Children, getting to have the honor of coming into families homes for an hour every week as they welcomed me in and served me what they had. And it was just so obvious, like you said, kids can't learn if they're hungry. It's like a foundational core need we all have as human beings that, for the most part will take for granted if that's not a problem at our house. And it's huge. It's what kids need to grow. And so how has that informed your approach as you started having your own kids and starting to Instagram?

Jennifer Anderson:  

So I think, to me, if we're going to put some sort of idealistic standard on parents, we're really causing shame, stress, guilt, so many things, and I am not going to put that out to the world. That's not why I'm here. And I've felt that those stresses myself, and as you know, my husband and I both have jobs, we're both working, and we've always had enough food for our kids. But still, I felt guilty. For everything under the sun, we might I mean, as a dietitian to watch my child struggl to stay on the growth chart was just amazingly guilt inducing, you know, is he going to be okay, keeping me up at night, it's been so stressful. And so I think I can care about health, and I can care about nutrition, and I do. But I also feel like unless we believe deeply that we are doing our best, and our best is good, and our best is what our kids need right now. We can't succeed, we can't do well. And we can't do better, because we're too busy feeling guilty about it.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Right? To the extent we feel like we're failing, that is like the upward battle, we're gonna have to go climb back up to even be able to address it, or talk about it, or find a resource or ask for help. So that's a big part of why I'm doing this podcast is because if, as a mom, you believe to your core that you are not good enough, or that there is something that you're doing that is so wrong, that is going to cover you and shame and throw you in a dark corner, then it's not serving your child, it's not going to help you improve, that is what you need to do. It is just a complete, like, stuck. Goo, right. So if we can take that off, if we can like peel the layers of that, then it's almost like you know, a hoarder, let's say if they feel so bad about the state of their house, they're never going to find what they need for their mental health or for the cleaning service to come in, or for people to be able to come over. Unless they feel like it's not a core part of who they are. And it's not a thing that they did to cause this and that there's other people with messes at their house. And, you know, getting over that shame is a huge component of it. And I saw that in your work right away. And that is why I was like, You're the perfect fit for this podcast, because we can get into all the things that you know, give us guilt for even like the you know, the smallest little thing. And food is a big part of that, which we'll get into in a second. But I just wanted to validate and appreciate. And thank you for sharing that message as loud and as wide as you can.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, well, it is genuinely My pleasure. This is why I'm here.

Danielle Bettmann:  

I love it. I love it. And that's why we're here today too. So what are just a few of the ways that parents feel like they're failing in the world of food with their kids?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Sure, so parents often hear the message. And I just as an aside, I think the more people are like, Oh, we've done this research, and therefore we know the right way to do things. And as a public health professional, you know, that was my advanced training. We talk about these big things that everyone should do, right? But none of those big things that everyone should do you take into account, actual people living their real life. And so as a parent, you're going to hear things like you can prevent picky eating. That's a myth. The research doesn't research and doesn't even support that. If your child is extremely picky. It's not your fault. It doesn't matter what you did. And just yesterday, I got a DM in my Instagram account. And somebody was like, I did everything right. I fed my child a variety of foods. They were all Whole Foods, no sugar, no salt, no fast food, no nothing. And I was like, You did everything right. And now their child is extremely picky at one. You know what that child has internal struggles going on, that you can't necessarily see. And so I think we hear these messages of prevention. And they're not always going to prevent, often it's not true that you can prevent these things. You know, another thing that parents hear is that you have to serve your child all Whole Foods. Or if you don't serve your child XYZ, they're going to be unhealthy, or XYZ is unhealthy. Poison. You name it, people are saying bad things about it. I have literally received a DM over the past five years that has said every single food that I have ever put on my Instagram page is bad for you. I believe it. You take them all out. I mean, good luck. Good luck. Good luck surviving. All these extreme messages out there. There's extreme diet. There's extreme philosophies. And if we're listening to those messages, for getting our information from headlines, good luck feeling good about yourself or your child or anything else.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah. And when we don't know which of those things is right, which of those things is going to be the thing that screws them up forever food-wise, then it feels like a minefield. And you know, like you're walking on it like you can't even take a step forward, because clearly, you're going to screw something up and do it wrong, and there'll be damaged forever. So how do we sort through the things that are non issues? And the things that are really kind of the core principles to focus on? Or put our energy into if we have energy?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Sure. And I love that you mentioned if you have energy, because I don't know what, you know, if you're listening, I don't know what's going on in your life. Have you had a death in the family? Have you moved? Have you lost your job? And like, I have no idea what's going on? And so when I'm offering kind of advice and help, like, what is important, what is not, there's not even a black and white to that, you know, yeah, there's a recommendation that you don't feed your child any sugar before the age of two. That's a great recommendation. I also gave my child gingersnaps, at 14 months old when I was laying on the couch pregnant, and could only eat gingersnaps without throwing up. And I didn't care. I was like, you want a cookie? Fine. Have a cookie. I'm a dietitian. And I could have cared less. So I think there's these moments where you're like, you know, yeah, I just watched my 14 month old climb up on the piano and play with some nail clippers. But again, I'm laying on the couch, making my other child and I had my eye on him. And he was, you know, he was fine. But there's these things where you're like, I don't know, I just don't know what's the best. But I think there are some basic principles that parents can follow that actually solve their problems. For example, if you have a child who's hungry every 10 minutes, my guess is that's bothering you. It's probably annoying you a lot. You're like, Ah, they're always fussy, though, is asking for food. I'm always having to think about this, right? If you learn to feed your child, a balanced snack that has a big portion of protein, fat, and then the goldfish crackers on this side, that is going to get your child to the next meal, much better than the goldfish crackers alone. And so there are these things that we can do that kind of do work in our favor. And they do help both our child thrive. And they also solve our problem dealing with whiny toddler, every 10 minutes. And this is something that I often talk about with the parents in my picky eater program is like, Yeah, you were doing some things that cause problems later. But that means that you're a problem solver, because you weren't doing something you were trying to do something to help an extreme situation or a frustrating situation, you may not have had the information that would have helped you. But maybe you did. And it just wasn't a good time for you to do it. And so I just like to give parents the space to say, hey, health is not my top priority right now. That's okay. That's okay, your child is going to be okay. And then later, you can deal with the problem that you created. Because there is no way that we can be parents that don't cause ourselves problems later. It's not possible. It's not a thing, like I'm an actual person with I'm a human, and therefore I'm going to do things that cause myself problems. And I think we have to accept that. We can't try to live up like you cannot live all the best practices, I am convinced that it's impossible. Because there's not enough time there's not enough energy. It's just not a thing, like nobody can do them all.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Great. Same with parenting, even like all the best gentle parenting positive parenting positive strategies. They're all phenomenal. When they're accessible, when you have the sanity to, you know, learn them and master them. Are you going to do them every moment of the day? No. Do I, as a parenting coach? Do them every moment of every day? No, I don't and neither does my husband. That's okay. That's still the point of parenting is for us to be honest about that and to apologize and to repair after conflict and to model some of the values that we're trying to instill in like a semi healthy way through leadership. And that's part of it. It's part of the parent child relationship. And if we don't allow for our own humanity, then we're not giving space for our kids to be humans and have ups and downs and good days and bad days. And I'm sure that's a thing that really affects our relationship with food and our kids relationship with food as well because it's so necessary day to day. It's a care routine that has to happen. But we have these lofty high expectations that we hold ourselves to of what it should look like and how it should go. And ultimately We can't control what our child puts in their mouth and choose and swallows. And then that becomes a power struggle. Because we want to

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, absolutely. I remember one time, control. Hopefully that gives some hope. For the listeners. Yeah. this now quite well known person, I sent them a DM because I was kind of friendly with them. And I say, Man, I'm having a really hard time getting my child to the table. For one, this is my area of expertise. And I can't get him to the table, and he's causing all this conflict. And I remember she said, Well, why don't you spend 15 minutes before the meal with him giving him your full attention? And I was like, What am I going to do with the other kid? At least like one on one time? I was like, what, like, seriously, what am I going to do with the other child? And it occurred to me that this person probably has at least one nanny, maybe several. And so yeah, they can spend, you know, 15 minutes of one on one time with one child, I can't do that. I can't leave the other child just to like, wander around. That's not a human thing and finish dinner at the same time and finish it right. So I think so many of these recommendations, sometimes they're just not appropriate for our life. And that's just a reality. Yeah. Oh, for sure.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Hey, if you're new here, I'm Danielle. My company, Wholeheartedly, offers one on one and group coaching programs to help families with strong willed kids aged one to seven prevent tantrums, eliminate power struggles, extend their patience and get on the same page. It's kind of like finances. You can read lots of info about what a Roth IRA is and how the stock market works. But if you really want to get serious about paying down debt or growing your wealth, you go see a financial advisor who can give you very specific recommendations based on all the unique facets of your situation. I'm your financial advisor for parenting. And I've designed the way we work together to give you nothing less than a complete transformation. While we work together, I am able to help you figure out why your child is losing their mind and why you are losing your mind and guide you to master effective long term solutions through three main focuses. Number one, my Cultivating Cooperation guide, teaching you the tools of Positive Discipline. Number two, managing your mind by working through my Triggers Workbook. And number three, establishing your family's foundation by writing your Family Business Plan. My coaching is comprehensive, practical, individualized and full of VIP support. So if you struggle to manage your child's big emotions, if you and your partner's arguments seem to center around parenting, especially if one of you is too kind, and one of you is too firm. If you struggle to stay calm and be the parent that you want to be, it's possible to stop feeling like a deer in headlights when a tantrum hits, effortlessly move through simple directions and care routines without an argument. And go to bed replaying the way you handled the hardest moments and feel proud. If you have a deep desire to be the best parent you can be, and your family is your greatest investment. Find me on Instagram, send me a message that says SANITY. And I'll ask you a few questions to see if we'd be a good fit to work together. I can't wait to meet you. Back to the show.

Jennifer Anderson:  

And regarding the power struggles, I mean, as a parent, you are really kind of you're in charge hopefully,

Danielle Bettmann:  

may not always feel like it...

Jennifer Anderson:  

And I say most of the time, I mean, I have very strong, wonderful children who are going to do things in life. And sometimes, you know, I'm like you have it, go for it. You can be in charge of this moment. But I think at the table, we have a really amazing opportunity to help kids understand. Yeah, there's some constraints in life. And yeah, parents are going to kind of set the routine and they're going to put the food on the table and all those things. But I'm in charge of my own body. I'm in charge of whether I chew it, swallow it, whether it chew and spit it out whether I even put it in my mouth. I'm in charge of those things. And I think when we give children that space, we are teaching them something that they can carry their lifetime. One with food, can they tell them they're hungry? Can they tell them they're full? Can they tell if something looks good to them? Or doesn't these are important skills from an eating and health perspective. But then also just the understanding that like, yeah, I can listen to my gut. I can be in charge of myself, and they're really important things. And when you give your child that space, the power struggle is gone. Unlike what are they going to struggle against when you were like, Yeah, you don't have to eat the peas are like, okay, hey, just takes the wind out of the sails. Like I'm not, you know, they stand up in their highchair. And you're like, how did they possibly get out of all those, like, you know, things that are supposed to give them sitting down the straps, and they're standing up, and you're like, oh, my gosh, you're gonna fall out. And they're standing there with their fork, and they're like, Oh, I'm not gonna eat the peas. And then you say, Okay. I mean, what are they going to do? There's no conflict there anymore, other than getting them back in the highchair. So I think we can eliminate a lot of our stress, when we give kids the space to decide whether they're going to eat something and how much they're going to eat. Mm hmm.

Danielle Bettmann:  

And then what I see is, if parents were like, Okay, I'm on board with that, then now I have to deal with the mind game going on inside my head about how they're winning and how this is going to continue forever, and how they're never going to eat a vegetable in their whole life and how I'm a terrible parent, because I'm being too permissive by allowing them to have a safe food at the table. And so then how do you address the power struggle in your mind of kind of, like, all the thoughts and all of the guilt?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Sure. I mean, I think the reality is, you're probably gonna have some of that. So make friends with it. You know, it's gonna be there, and that voice is gonna be there. And you have to just kind of be like, okay, hey, I'm not going to engage with you right now. But I noticed that you're there. I think the other thing is, when you give your child that space, it is a best practice to give your child that space. It is the healthy practice. So if you're lumping that in with permissiveness, that's not actually what is considered permissive parenting in the food and feeding space. Permissive feeding is more of like, yes, you're letting your child make those decisions. But also, you're letting your child control the entire environment, they call the shots on what served, they call the shots on when they eat, they call the shots on where they eat, they're running around, you're chasing them around with a fork with one bite of food, just to get them to eat that one bite, you know, when a child is totally calling the shots on all the things, then you're in the permissive category. But when you're saying, Okay, you can have your body, you can make those choices, but I'm going to control everything else. Yeah, I'm going to respect you for who you are. And I'm going to make sure you have a food on the table that is familiar to you, and that you usually like I say, usually because you know, they've been eating bananas for a year. And then they're like, Oh, I'm never going to eat a banana get right. So I think in that context, you kind of have to think about it in terms of like, what does the body of research say? And it really says that, you know, providing that environment where you let your child choose whether to eat and how much they're going to eat. That is the best practice. And so you're not doing anything wrong, if you decide to do that, in terms of like whether they're going to eat a vegetable, again, I do think learning to serve it in different ways. Are they any cold or hot or crunchy or raw or cooked, you have a lot of choices there, if you choose to make them. And that can really kind of help your child. Now if you get to the point where your child does not eat any fruits and vegetables, then we're talking about a potential health problem. And in that case, you are dealing most likely with a really extreme picky eater. Again, it's not your fault, you could have done everything right, or you could have done everything wrong. And if you have an extreme picky eater, you are gonna always end up with an extreme picky eater. So I think if you are kind of like experiencing those red flags, along with high levels of stress, where you're like, Man, they used to eat everything. And over and over and over, they're eating less and less and less foods, and now they're not eating any fruits and vegetables, and now they're not eating any dairy products. And now they're you know, they're just like dropping categories, and they're dropping foods off their list. That's when you're like, Okay, I do need some more support. And there may be times where like, I'm not ready to work on this right now. And other times when you're like, you know what, this is something that I do want to work on that I do want to help my child and finding that place as soon as you do have the capacity can really help your child health wise, and also help them long term.

Danielle Bettmann:  

is picky eating, behavioral, is it sensorial, is it cultural? Where does it come from? Like what is happening? At like the deep root of it?

Jennifer Anderson:  

I mean, yes, and yes, and yes and yes. So, picky eating is not easy. I like to group it into four categories. You have basic picky eating, you have sensory related picky eating, you have like medical, or like situational things that happen that kind of cause it and group that in with anxiety. And then you have something else, which is totally leaving my mind. I promise. Yeah, it's a thing. So you know what I do not consider picky eating in 99.9% of the cases, it's not behavioral, there's something else. There's something else that's kind of causing that. Toddlers are often picky. And one of the things that are asserting their independence, that's developmental, it really is. And you also have genetic components to picky eating, which is so interesting to me, if you were a picky parent, as a child, your child is much more likely to be picky. Even if you totally change the way that you parent, your child, Oh, interesting, your child may have sensory difficulties going on, you know, the way that their brain is kind of put together, maybe making it a really extreme experience or a really boring, not extreme experience. And so that's also likely out of your control, right? When basic picky eating, there's a lot of things that you can do to kind of disable the picky eating from progressing, there's some things that you can do to kind of help your child and reduce your own stress. But then with anxiety, also, there's a lot of factors out of your control, if your child has like anxiety related to food. On the one hand, it's kind of normal, that appears like around the age of one neophobia, which is the fear of new foods, or the fear of new things. And that's helpful, you know, we don't want kids crawling around the yard meeting mushrooms, although they're happy to eat dirt and mulch, right? We've all been there. Right? But you know, we do want them to be wary of new foods, the problem is, then they stop eating vegetables. And you're like, Ah, man, so there is that anxiety, and it can't be worse by what you're doing. If you're being like, you have to eat it, you have to eat it, you have to take three bites, you have to take two bites, you have to take one bite, and you kick it down until right that's gonna stress your child out. And that's gonna make it so they really can't try new foods. So there's a lot of factors that go

Danielle Bettmann:  

Do you feel like it's true, the more you into it. insist the more they resist?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Often. I mean, there's some like super compliant kids who are like, Okay, I'll do whatever to make you happy. But if you get a really picky eater, chances are even something like a one bite rule is just not going to work in your favor.

Danielle Bettmann:  

And that's not the way that like this current generation was conditioned to have a relationship with food when they were little. And if we have not met a registered dietitian in our mom's group, then we probably haven't found other ways to create a healthy relationship with food for our kids then we had growing up. And I feel like it's so hard to override your instincts. If you don't have a replacement. If you don't have a new toolbox or skill set or you know, something to be doing and focusing on instead to work toward. You're just floundering, you don't know whether anything that you're doing is right. And it all feels like you're failing or you're screwing up your kids. So right what are like the three basic things that you kind of recommend overall, for even just kids that aren't that picky, to help them create a healthy relationship with food?

Jennifer Anderson:  

The first is really decreasing that pressure, like not making your child try foods, but really instead focusing on the environment. What do you have control over? Yeah, you can help them be hungry for meals. Yeah, you can put out a variety of food, if that's something that works for you right now, you know, you can kind of control the environment. And that enables them to be more willing to try foods, I think another thing that parents can really do is to accept yourself and your child. And you know, we've been talking about this the whole time. But when you think that you're doing a good job, you give yourself more capacity. And with that capacity, if nutrition is something that you're working on right now, you can do better, you can improve in the next step that works for you. I have set up our entire team, and all the stuff that we create to be based on a harm reduction model. And what harm reduction says is like, okay, let's say you're depressed, and you're laying on the floor, and you're, you know, trying to help your kids survive. I'm not going to tell you to make a whole foods diet for your child. It's not kind and it's not helpful, and you're not going to do it. But if I say, Okay, here's some frozen vegetables that you can put it in the microwave for two minutes and put some butter on it and put it on the table for your child. Maybe that's something that you can do. That's going to be a lot better than just Cheerios for dinner. And so even though it's just one thing you're like, I don't like it doesn't seem like it's ideal. Well, yeah, it's not ideal, but it's better than what you were doing before and that's good. Period. You know, I went through a phase where I did feed my kids Cheerios for dinner and I just that was the capacity I had. And I knew full well, that was not ideal for my kids. But that's where it was. And you know, eventually I moved up to a place where I could add in those vegetables. So I think really appreciating where you are, and the capacity that you have is going to give you more capacity to move towards your goals.

Danielle Bettmann:  

So when should parents seek professional help? What are some of those red flags?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, so if your child is down to like 20, or 30 foods, that is definitely a red flag. If your child is dropping whole food groups, that is a red flag. if your stress levels are off the charts, and you're like, feeding my child is way harder than all the people I know, or most of the people I know, that's also a red flag. And those things together, if you're like, man, hey, one of those is really kind of speaking to me, one of those are two or three or four, and you're like, and something is really stressful here. That is a good time, if you have the capacity to seek more help. And, you know, a lot of times we find, and I see this in parents in our picky eating program, is that their problem isn't quite bad enough for one on one help, you know, their child is on the growth chart, their child's not losing weight, their child doesn't seem to have like major malnutrition. And they're like, I can't get any help from a professional for my pediatrician and from anything like that. But I feel like there is a problem. And that's when some form of self education really comes in handy. And that's where we find a lot of people in our picky eating program are really kind of struggling, they're like, one, I want to know that I'm not alone in this. And too, I need some new tools, I really do. And that's when you can kind of say, Okay, I'm either gonna seek one on one help, or I'm going to seek some form of self education.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, and thankfully, you know, thanks to you and your team. And thanks to the power of the internet, we have so many more tools at our disposal, because it can be almost a bad thing when we're just overwhelmed by accounts and conflicting information. So being able to invest in one tool, one resource is the game changer, you know, like narrowed down into what feels like the best fit for you and your child where you're at, with the level of focus and commitment that you can provide right now and do that one next step. Exactly. Absolutely. So I would be remiss if we talked about food without bringing up sweets, right, bringing up chocolate, dessert, you know, all the things because that is like the big hot button thing of what do we do with you know, all this sugary food that's surrounding us? And it feels like it's a very big point of contention. I know, at my house it is and I know, you know, there's everybody's got a little bit of a different approach. So is there a best practice for taking sweets off of like a big pedestal, but also creating some type of portion control or healthy boundaries? Or, you know, what does that look like? What should we do?

Jennifer Anderson:  

I think that's tricky, because you will come across people who are very confident in their opinions. You know, there's, we do know, on the one hand, if you're saying you can't have dessert until you eat your dinner, what you're really saying is dinner is bad, dessert is good. And that does put it on a pedestal. At the same time. You know, I was just talking to a mom on DM's yesterday, who said, My son is taking a medication, and it's really taken away his impulse control around eating sweets, and he'll eat a whole bag or something, he'll hide and he'll eat a jar of Nutella. And there are these things. And she's like, I don't want to restrict and I don't want to feel bad. And I was like, Well, the reality is your son is not going to be able to make the decisions he would, because he's taking this medication. And given the medical situation, it is your job to restrict it. And you might choose not to bring it into the house, or you may choose to put it in a locked cupboard. The reality is things are complicated. It's not cut and dry. Now I do always make the recommendation, don't use it as a reward. Don't use it as a bribe. Because when you do that you do put it on a pedestal, just plain and simple. That said, other people will put it on a pedestal for you. I remember when my kids were in gymnastics class, and it was like, Oh, you did a good job. And here's a lollipop. And I was like, why are you undoing all the work that I've done? Teachers might use? You know things. So we do the best we can we remember that we have just an amazing influence on our children. And when we don't do that, it does take it down a notch. And that's really important. One of my favorite strategies for kind of taking it off that pedestal if you're struggling with this, like dessert and dinner thing is to really say to really just put some dessert on the side of the plate with the meal. And call that a day. Now, obviously parents are like, what if they don't eat dinner, I mean, in the nine years that I've been a parent, that's happened maybe like three times, you know, it's not as big of a deal as you think as long as you're not giving your child like a piece of cake the size of their head, right? You want to give them a child sized portion that they can't fill up on, they're gonna eat that, maybe eat it first, maybe not eat it first, and then they're gonna eat their dinner, and it can really normalize things. Parents always like, Well, what about like Halloween? What about the birthday parties? You know, it really depends on your child, their health, what you're comfortable with? I kind of think of working with kids around sweets as like, how many experiences can I get them, there's gonna be times where it's limited. And we're like, okay, you can have three cookies, period. And then there's gonna be times where you like, you can have as much ice cream as you want, period. And we just acknowledge it for what it is. It's restricted, there's going to be times when there's more. And the more experiences we give kids, the more they can kind of experiment and have different internal experiences. I remember, you know, my son, he was about five, he ate so much candy on Halloween, that he laid down on the floor and was like, I feel so sick. I think he ate too much candy. That was his learning on his own. Now, sometimes I kind of like draw connections for the kids. It was like, Look, you guys just ate cookies that you found in the cupboard for breakfast. Yeah, you're gonna be fussy. And that's just like a fact. And this morning, one of my kids, he drank Gatorade for breakfast. Again, if I don't kind of beat them to breakfast, they'll just kind of like forage around and find stuff

Danielle Bettmann:  

exactly what my kids do now that they're nine and seven. Yeah,

Jennifer Anderson:  

and you're like, and my seven year old was like, you're gonna be fussy for the rest of the day. You know, there's these things, and we kind of struggle through. And there might be things where you're like, Hey, I'm not going to let my kids eat as much candy as they want. That doesn't work for me. That's okay. Don't use it as a bribe. But also just say, you know, this is my house, like, these are my rules. This is what I feel comfortable with. And you may stick with that for forever. You may not, it's okay to change your approach. It's okay to try different things and see what works for you.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, that can be very reassuring even just to have that flexibility. And knowing what I do today can be different than what I do tomorrow. When I have more information, or when I try something else, do you see that some kids have more of a sweet tooth than others?

Jennifer Anderson:  

For sure. There have been I don't know how many studies have been done on this. But they're starting to kind of find some genetic components that do kind of determine Sweet Tooth versus salty tooth versus, you know, all those things. Additionally, like if a child has ADHD, they are going to be much more attracted to sweets and kind of like that quick hit. So it depends on your kid. And we're also kind of wired to want sweets, that's just kind of like, we're wired to get that quick energy, the fat the high energy foods, right? So if your child is kind of, quote, obsessed with food, yeah, maybe because you put it on a pedestal, or it may be because they just have a certain body that's more attracted to that. It doesn't mean they're a bad kid, right? It just means that you may have to step in and say, Look, you know, I'm gonna have less of that around the house or something like that.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Just helping point out just those boundaries, a little bit more of, you know, help yourself to this. But here's the quota, or here's the limit, or here's, you know, we need to share it with your brothers sisters.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Oh, absolutely. Teaching sharing is so important. Everybody needs to be able to get their fair share, period.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, and I think siblings are a great learning opportunity for...Work in Progress

Jennifer Anderson:  

battlegrounds, sometimes.

Danielle Bettmann:  

And so does family style dining help, you know, kind of like serving from the same bowl or having them kind of scoop things onto your plate?

Jennifer Anderson:  

It can be, you know, then they feel more of a sense of control. It can get kids engaged in the meal. At the same time, it can be messy, kids can waste food, we are really having to I prefer to like serve it in the pots, by the way. Yeah, just the pot on the table. Now with the extra dishes out or I put it like in the storage container, if I think we're gonna have leftovers. So then it's already in there. Kids, like they take too much or you know, all these things. So I think it is a little more high maintenance to do that. And you might be like, there were days where I'm like, yeah, that'd be helpful, but forget it. I'm putting the stuff on the plate in the kitchen. And it is what it is. But generally less on the plate, the better for the overwhelm, right? Yeah, for overwhelming also food waste, I like to think about it in terms of micro portions. So we want to have small portions. That's how we help kids get in touch with whether they're hungry or full. That's how we reduce food waste. And it also reduces their kind of anxiety over like a huge pile of peas. Which maybe they are like, I don't know about that. You can put one pea on their plate. Yeah, that feels more doable. With a toothpick or something. Yeah, exactly. I like to call like big portions, wishful portions. It's what you wish your child would eat. But, I mean, they can have as many servings as you know, as is their fair share at the meal. But big portions don't always work in your favor.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Are there any other ways to put kids more in control?

Jennifer Anderson:  

You can kind of offer kids a choice. I recommend a little bit of caution here. If you say what do you want for dinner, that is really setting an on helpful precedent. And you're also putting your child in a place where they think they have control over what served in the House. And also you're asking your child, something that is really big? That's a really big question for them. So instead, you can say, do you want chicken? Or do you want Macaroni Cheese today? Or would you like blueberries? Or strawberries? Or would you like cucumber or carrots on the side of your plate? So when we give kids control choices, we are kind of in control. But also, we're giving them some choice in the matter, of course, then again, like one of my kids, you can offer the two choices, that's never worked one time in his entire life, it's always like, I'll take the third option that are offered to you. So I mean, one of my kids was like all the books said, the other kid was like, Uh... you need to get a different book.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yes. And normalizing that too. Because yeah, no one strategy works for every single kid. And if you have that kid who will never pick out of the two options you give them no matter what it is, then of course that's going to affect your food battles and the ways that you communicate with, you know what those boundaries are, and that's normal. So you're not alone.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Right? And you can also say, Okay, I know, this is the reality. So I'm gonna offer two choices on he's gonna pick the word. Yeah. And it is what it is,

Danielle Bettmann:  

it is what it is, I don't need to make it a bigger thing, then it has to be that you know, means something about me as a parent or them as a kid and how, you know, they're never going to be able to succeed in life, because they can't pick from these two things.

Jennifer Anderson:  

It's easy for us to go there and to be like, Oh my gosh, they're never gonna make a choice from what's available. And you're gonna think like, okay, so he has never in his life picked one of the two options, I've given him, think about what that's going to lead to when he's an adult, he's gonna think outside the box, he's gonna be like, No, I'm not gonna be limited by the choices you gave me, I'm gonna do something else, I'm gonna do something that you think is impossible. And I've really tried to put myself in that reality of like, what are the skills that he has now that are just going to make him really kind of an exciting child as long as you maintain my perspective? But also, like, look, these skills are going to serve you for your whole life?

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yes, they really well, and we have a daughter just like that at our house. And that's a lot of the clients I work with, with parenting coaches is the ones that just don't go by the book, they're not gonna, you know, just fall in line. And I appreciate so much how well she knows herself. She just knows what she wants, she can very clearly communicate that she really never falters when she says like, this is what I think needs to happen. And I never want to crush that out of her. And I'm almost jealous of that in a lot of ways, because I still have a hard time making decisions as a grown up. And for her, it's just so no nonsense like, this is the way I see the world. This is what feels right and fair, this is how I need to either speak up for myself or speak up for others. And it's so great. Like, we don't need to always see that as like a huge threat right to our authority instead just like embrace that side of them that says like, Alright, maybe your third option is what we should have.

Jennifer Anderson:  

You know, I do want to acknowledge this challenge that that is in the moment, when you're like, you know, we actually do have to go to school. The third option is actually not laying on the floor crying and screaming like, you do have to get in the car. But at the same time there is that sort of like, I also am kind of jealous. I've just had like strong knowledge like No, I'm not going to put that pea in my mouth. And I just think that is a sign of of their willingness to stick up for themselves. And I think they will go far with that.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah. And they can use that for good down the road, I really believe, right? So I have to take a personal spin and ask a question for my husband. So he is a chef, he went to culinary school, he was working in research and development for a big food company early on in our marriage. And now he works at a bakery. So his love language is making food for others. And he connects with other humans over food. And he constantly is going down rabbit holes about new ways to prepare foods from other cultures and how to introduce things to our kids. And he has been absolutely devastated by their non shared love of food and not being like just not, it very much feels like the more time you spend preparing food, it's more likely that they will absolutely rejected off the get go, right. And so that rejection has been really hard for him, it's been a point of contention that he's really had to grow in his expectations, and just, you know, hoping for more opportunities to connect over food in the future. And we do go to farmers markets, and they do, you know, help prepare things, and we bake. And there's, you know, other ways that we have really introduced food. But of course, it has not looked like what we thought it was going to look like, before we were parents. When we were like, Surely our kids will be the most adventurous eaters. And we'll be making all of these amazing things...have cookbooks for them. Right?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Right. Oh, for sure.

Danielle Bettmann:  

So that's the backstory of him. But his main question when I told him that I was interviewing you, was curiosity over the difference in cultures? is picky eating a more prevalent thing for Americans over other cultures? Or is picky eating kind of like across the board experienced in families? globally? What does that look like to you?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, so you know, people often bring that up, and they're like, well, in other countries, kids aren't picky. I have followers from all over the world, who are like, my child is picky. People like to be like, Oh, in France, no children are picky. Well, I bet French parents send me plenty of DMS who are like I can't get my kids to eat, okay. There are cultures who do kind of a better job, across the board of kind of maintaining that structure of parents are controlling the environment, and kids are kind of choosing, that is true, and that is going to really help reduce the picky eating the culture. You know, we also forget that in the United States, for those of us who have quite a bit of privilege, we have exposure to so many different foods, in a lot of other countries, they don't have that many foods. And, you know, I think when a child has consistent repetition, over and over and over, and what the parent ate when they're pregnant is kind of the same as what they're eating now, there is going to be a little less picky eating, because kids are going to insert aren't the same, like exposures to new foods all the time. So I think that's things and then I think there is kind of the reality. And if you read older books, you know, there's always the stories of like, kids who didn't thrive, have kids who were sickly, I feel like that is kind of in a lot of the stories, like this kid didn't do well, and this kid didn't do well. And I think we're kind of saying, you know, they didn't have any tools for picky eating, and the kids just really didn't thrive. I think also, if you're in a resource poor setting, and you don't always have food you are going to eat, and you're going to eat a lot of foods that are available to you whatever they are, because you just don't have enough food. So that's a reality as well. I have not actually seen any prevalent studies that really look at you know, what are the actual numbers of picky eaters all over the world. But I think it's a little more prevalent than we think, you know, there's also and just bring this up people like, well, you know, 200 years ago, kids weren't picky. I'm like, Yeah, but their parents beat them into eating, like, literally. So, you know, they weren't allowed to be picky. Do we want to go back to that? I mean, I don't think so. Like, is beating your kid where it's like, eating the carrots? I don't think so. Right.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Not in my professional opinion.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, right. Yeah, I was talking to my husband. And I was like, yeah, that used to beat kids. And he was like, oh, yeah, good point.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, we tend to forget that that was still not too long ago and still happening. Yeah, you know, today and families, so a very important component. So for you as like a last, you know, to wrap up, when you have a pedestal that you can stand up on or a soapbox and you can speak to families... What is like the one thing that you always want to make sure that we have gotten a chance to maybe cover yet that you want to share?

Jennifer Anderson:  

So I mean, I have plenty of soap boxes, but the one that immediately comes to mind is like, Don't yuck on somebody else's yum. And you know, we've talked about this with kids, but you have such an amazing opportunity with your kids to talk about food neutrally. And to say, this is a carrot period, it's not a healthy carrot, it's not an all the time carrot, that cookie, it's not a sometimes cookie, it's just a cookie, just call foods, what they are, when you set the tone of food neutrality in your home, and you practice that when your child goes to school, if they go to school, and they're looking at someone else eating very different lunch, maybe they're from a different culture, maybe they're from a different country, right? All these things, food is often used to stigmatize groups of people, and to disenfranchised groups of people and to say, Hey, you're not as good as I am. Food is like, we know that food is such an important part of us, it's often the target of attacks. And whatever I do, in my home around food, I want to raise my kids to go out and to respect people for who they are. And not to use food as a source of making fun of other kids or making fun of other cultures and not appreciating them. And I think when we practice that around food, because kids eat all the time, we also give them more tools. The other day, my son came home and he was like, So and so was teasing me, because I said I like classical music. And he's like, explored different musics himself. And he's decided that's one of the forms of music that he likes. And he was like, different people like different musics. And it's not like I have to like pop music. And, you know, his friend was saying, that was the best music and he was offended, he was offended at that. And we've never ever talked about music, ever. I don't recall ever saying like, you know, anything related this conversation. But I think the fact that we have kind of established that, you know, different people live differently, and it's okay for you to like your food, and it's okay for them to like their food. And I was just so amazed that circuit that we have built in his brain, he was able to apply to a totally different situation. And he felt good, he feel good about standing up for himself.

Danielle Bettmann:  

That's so important. Wow, such a good example of that, you know, laying the groundwork paying off, when we can't, we don't know, you know, what experiences they're going to have when they leave us or what their thoughts are about, you know, certain of what they're going to take in what they're gonna reject. And we have kind of a similar value at our house where we reiterate that different is good. And we celebrate the differences in everyone, whether it is choice of music, food, you like ways you dress, the color of your skin, all the things, all those differences are good, and we seek them out, and we value them. And that I hope, continues to lay that groundwork, where they really do point out and see, oh, you know, so and so is doing this differently than me? Great. Nobody's threatened by that! Right. And so I hope that they continue to be those kids, you know, later on, really just looking at for others being like, who cares if he likes classical music, right, like, yeah. So how can listeners connect with you after this episode, and just share a little bit about the resources that you have to offer?

Jennifer Anderson:  

Sure. So kids in color.com is an amazing resource center for parents who want to learn about feeding their babies, their toddlers who want to learn about child nutrition, who want to learn, you know, have some diverse recipes to try. And of course, there is also Instagram and Facebook and you know, Pinterest and all those fun places if you kind of want your daily dose of kids in color. But kids in color.com is really where you're going to find the free picky eating guide, the free shopping list if you want some free resources to kind of help take some of the stress out of your life. And then we also do have the courses we have our new toddler and child feeding course we have the picky eating course we have those sorts of things along with meal plans and you know, fun stuff.

Danielle Bettmann:  

And there's a quiz they can take about whether or not they have a picky eater.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, so if you want to kind of know do have an extreme picky eater, or do you have a typical picky eater, like, what's my situation, you can take the quiz and that will it's kind of just a screener. It's like one, two minutes, and then you can kind of get a better idea. Is this like a more extreme situation or is it more typical? Okay,

Danielle Bettmann:  

I'll share the link to that in the show notes as well as you know, your website and all the things to connect with you Yo, I definitely want listeners to be able to take that next step. So the last question that I have that I asked every guest that comes on is how are you, the mom that your kids need?

Jennifer Anderson:  

So I really believe that I take action for my kids, you know, we haven't had the kind of easy road that you kind of hope you'll have with your kids. And of course, nobody does. But we do have daydreams before we're parents, right. And one thing that I have consistently done is, I've seen an issue. And I've had those questions, and I've sought out the answers. I haven't stopped. I haven't stopped, like, sometimes we've tried different things. I'm like, well, that's not working. It's still not working. Oh, we try. We've been trying things for three years, like my kids had a stomach ache for three years, we finally found the solution. Right? And I just think it is one of those things where I do, I'm going to take action, I'm going to find the solution. I'm going to spend the time, and I feel good about that.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Yeah, and you should. Absolutely. And I know that listeners will see themselves in that as well and may not have been giving themselves credit for that. So now's the opportunity to pat yourself on the back and really value what you're contributing to your kids and to your family by even just seeking out this podcast episode. It really does matter those little, little things. So thanks again, Jennifer, for all the wisdom for just normalizing the struggle and being able to share that wisdom that can help us with the minefield of food going forward and feeling a little bit better about how we're doing with the capacity we have today.

Jennifer Anderson:  

Yeah, well, thanks so much for having me. This was great.

Danielle Bettmann:  

Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they're not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on

Close

FREE LIVE MASTERCLASS

Tuesday, Sept 27th at 1:00 PM CENTRAL

Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!