Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bite for a Bite

I developed this eating strategy, over time, while teaching myself to eat my vegetables. I grew up with very limited exposure to veggies and had great drive as I learned more and more about their benefits.  I found that when I came up against something that was really hard to choke down, I could sike myself out with a basic reward system.  If I could take just one bite of this vegetable, I would then get to eat something highly desirable.  The more of the offensive food I ate, the more yummy-ness I would have to look forward to. When my mind concentrated on the good, it was all easier to get through.

Now I love a huge variety of vegetables and other healthy foods.  I still use bite for a bite when I have a recipe failure or I decide to teach myself to like something that I haven't learned to like yet.  There are so many diets and food rules that people live by that are harmful to their relationship with food.  They are confusing, restrictive, self defeating and based on guilt.  This strategy is completely opposite, straightforward, flexible, and builds other important character traits like self discipline and confidence.

Bite for a bite evolved when I decided this was a good strategy to teach my kids.  Children have a smaller attention span and respond better to immediate verses delayed consequences.  Luckily, I have started from the beginning with my kids eating the most nutritious foods and have kept their diets low in sugar and processed foods.  I also don’t buy or bake a lot of treats, so they are just not available for eating on a daily basis.  This means most of the time the desirable, yummy food is a piece of fruit, pizza cut into bite sized pieces, homemade whole grain bread, granola or even a sip of smoothie.

My kids do so well with this and often suggest it themselves when they are having a hard time.  Even my 2 year old keeps track of himself while he is using this strategy. He will take a piece of a cucumber and an orange slice off his plate, look at them both, pick up and eat the cucumber, then the orange and repeat.  We treat it as a privilege at our house because it says; I trust you to do this. Now, if your kids are not big fans of fruit, you may have to go with something less healthy for a time for the reward.  It is still worth it to train them in this beneficial, life long eating strategy.

I believe that many parents have such a broken relationship with food that they don't give themselves, let alone, their children the credit that they can change their taste buds.  Vegetables will not always and forever taste terrible.  A few skills in preparation along with regular exposure is the recipe to success.  Believe you can do it, believe your kids can do it and take baby steps, a bite for a bite.
links; Tuesday Twister, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday


  1. This is a great idea! Lately, now that my 2 (almost 3) year old can reason more, he'll understand if I say "Okay, eat one carrot and then you can have a...." I've been amazed at how he's gotten so much better at eating his veggies (before he wouldn't touch them) by simply promising an immediate reward for eating them.

  2. This even works great for babies who can't reason. When they don't know that green on the spoon means green beans and yellow means apples and you keep giving every other bite or every couple bites of the favored item, they never know when the good stuff is coming and will open up for every bite :)


It's rude to eat and run. Humor me with conversation please!

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