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Can Martha Howard's imagery convert "picky " kids to healthy eating?

27 Jun
An exasperated mom wants to know if Martha Howard’s excellent imagery, which helps people want to eat healthily, will convert her two picky eater sons, ages 2 and 8, into avid veggie-eaters..
Dear BR,
This question is about picky eaters. I noticed that in your description of Martha Howard''s CD on Freeing Yourself of Excess Weight, it says you''ll be craving fresh veggies. Does that mean it would help my sons (ages 2-8), who do not have a weight problem, but who do refuse to eat healthy foods?
Exasperated Mom



Dear Exasperated,
NO!
Dr. Howard’s excellent imagery program is (a) for adults and (b) to help them with weight loss, along with establishing healthy eating and other big person lifestyle habits.

As for your two "picky" eaters, perhaps you need to back off a bit. It’s normal for a 2-year old to eat rather strangely, but, if left to his own devices, he will eventually crave and consume what his body needs. It may be one week of straight carrots, another of cereal and milk only.. but it’ll all even out in the end, as long as he’s not having a power struggle with you over what to eat. (And this is the operative phrase: As long as he’s not having a power struggle with you over what to eat.)

The key, Exasperated Mom, is for you to make the transition from being his feeder of food, which is what he needed from you as a baby, to becoming his presenter of food, which is what he needs from you now. Put the stuff in front of him and let him pick what he has a yen for. And do not hover. Go read the paper or call a pal. You need to be less interested in all of this.

Now, it’s a little more complicated with your eight-year-old. He may already be in the throes of a Twinkie addiction, possibly acquired on the playground. Sugar has a way of generating a craving for more sugar, so that’s a tough pattern to interrupt. (Worsened when we give our kids sweets to shut them up, placate them or distract them.) But not impossible. You may have to get creative about what you present to him, ensuring it’s appealing and sporting some enviable kiddie chic features.

The bottom line is, the last thing you want to do is to make food a battleground. As one pediatrician recently said on the radio, a picky eater is a kid whose parents worry about what he eats. A non-picky eater is a kid whose parents don’t.

And just to assure you that we all have had our trials and tribulations on this score, I invite you to read this article, written in the Washington Post way back when my youngest son was a 5-year-old kindergartener. The reporter had cleverly stationed herself by the trash barrel in order to interview each kid as he lobbed his lovingly prepared lunch into the garbage. Imagine my chagrin when the entire metro DC area learned of how my unacceptable cheese sandwiches got the old heave-ho. Needless to say, that particular "picky" eater grew up to be a tall, strapping, food-loving gourmand of a hunk. I rest my case.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award