Mental Health

Free yourself from feeding guilt: 5 reasons to stop feeling guilty for how your kids eat

When it comes to parenting, it can be really hard not to feel guilt.  Some of us feel it more than others, and feeding is no different.

I talk to so many parents every week about feeding, and there are often very similar themes: guilt about what their child is eating (or not eating).

This guilt is not productive, but I know it can be hard to let go.  Let’s dive into how to start to let that guilt go when it comes to feeding (and why that’s important).  Here are 5 reasons to stop feeling guilty for how your kids eat.

5 reasons to stop feeling guilty for how your kids eat

1. You did not cause your child’s picky/ selective eating

Please repeat this to yourself, multiple times per day.  YOU DID NOT CAUSE YOUR CHILD’S PICKY OR SELECTIVE EATING.   

I hear this a lot from parents:  “my child eats this way because I didn’t give them enough variety as an infant” or “It’s my fault: I started giving into what they wanted.”

These things are not true.  Every child has a different temperament, has different sensory inputs and is a different person.  You did not cause your child’s picky eating. Take that out, let that go. Your child’s eating is absolutely not a reflection of you as a parent.

2. Everyone comes from a different starting point

Whether your child eats five foods, 20 foods, or every food you put in front of them, this is your starting point. 

Try to put on some blinders and stop comparing yourself to what other kids are eating.  

We start here and then we make progress.  This can feel especially hard for those of us with more than one child, it can be really hard not to fall into that comparison trap. But remember, your child is unique and special, and they come from a different starting point.

3. Your child can meet their needs on a limited diet

Your child can absolutely 100% meet their nutrition needs on a limited diet. I help families make sure their child is meeting their needs based on what they are eating. 

We do this without sneaking without hiding.   They may need multivitamins or supplements. It is absolutely possible to meet their needs

I also look at health from a concept of well, how are they growing at a rate that’s right for them? How are they sleeping? How’s their energy level?  There are so many factors that are part of health.

4. When we let go of guilt, and shame, and some of the stress that we carry, we can actually help our child to make progress

When we come to the table with stress, anxiety, or fear, our children tend to sense it. Whereas if we come to the table in a little bit of a more positive light, it tends to help the meal time go a little bit better. Think about how you can let go of some of that so mealtime can go a little smoother.  

From a scientific standpoint, when we are stressed we release cortisol, the stress hormone, and that can actually dampen hunger.  When a child feels stress at the table their hunger signals can be dampened.   

5. You are wonderful, perfect and the right parent or caregiver for your child – just as you are.

You are perfect.  You are the right parent or caregiver for your child, just as you are.  Even if you are struggling with your own relationship with food, that’s okay. You are doing the best you can in the situation that you’re in. 

Go back to your starting point and start thinking about how you can move forward from here.

Remember that these 5 reasons are starting points.  When we can start to let go of guilt when it comes to feeding feeding starts to go better

If you are reading this and you want to help your child make progress when it comes to feeding, and give them the tools, strategies and guidance to try new foods with ease, download my free guide: 4 steps to help your child try new foods.