Hey fellow mamas! Let’s talk specifically about how to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of tricky, picky eating with our precious littles. My crew of two amazing, energetic elementary schoolers, but especially my son definitely had a rough start in life that left him feeling anxious about… well, everything, including food.

ICYMI: I’m a new mom via adoption and I’m so thrilled to add my boots-on-the-ground experience to this ah-mazing journey of parenthood with purpose… providing even more insights and actionable to do’s for living a healthier, happier life.

Here’s the thing: science tells us that early neglect can actually rewire the brain’s reward system, making kids hyper-focused on food as a source of comfort. This often leads to hoarding and overeating. Talk about stressful!

Don’t despair if you’re struggling with this with your kiddo! This is especially common with kids from hard places (ie. foster care, adopted) but the more I share the more I’ve come to realize that all kids seem to need this level of attention and support🤯

Here’s how I used a little neuroscience to become my little dude’s personal “food whisperer”:

1. Predictability is Key: Our brains crave routine. So, we set predictable meal and snack times. No more wondering “when will I eat again?” This calmed his anxiety and reduced his need to hoard.

2. Portion Power: We used fun, colorful plates with designated sections for different food groups. This helped little dude see the “right” amount of food and feel satisfied without feeling overwhelmed by a giant mountain of it.

3. Sensory Exploration: Turns out, touch, smell, and even the sound of food can influence how much we eat. We let little dude explore new foods by feeling them, smelling them, and even helping prepare simple meals. This created a sense of ownership and made him more open to trying new things.

4. Focus on the Fun: Food shouldn’t be stressful! We turned mealtimes into a family bonding experience, complete with silly stories and laughter. This positive reinforcement helped little dude associate food with happy memories, not just anxiety.

5. The Power of “We”: Little dude isn’t alone in this journey. We talk openly about healthy eating as a family project – something we’re all working on together. This sense of teamwork gives him a feeling of control and reduces the fear of scarcity.

6. Hack the Hunger Hormone: Ghrelin, that sneaky little hormone, tells our bodies it’s chow time. When little dude’s tummy was empty, his ghrelin went into overdrive, triggering the hoarding behavior. The fix? Scheduled meals and snacks! It sounds simple, but this predictability calmed his ghrelin and reassured him there would always be more. I also taught him (and his sis) about those two hormones so we can promote more mindfulness and body awareness overall!

7. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: We involve little dude in meal prep (age-appropriate tasks, of course!). This gave him a sense of control and ownership over his food. Plus, studies show people are more likely to eat and enjoy what they helped create! It also shows him just how intentional we are about food!

8. Celebrating Small Wins: Every step forward deserves a cheer! When little dude tried a new food (even a tiny bite!), we celebrated like he’d just won a gold medal for sprinting lol. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in rewiring those little brain connections.

9. Honest, Authentic Planning: In asking him what would help him feel safe (hint: ask!), my smart, little guy said something along the lines of seeing that he had access to food at any time. In a house filled with food and fun, this was definitely the no brainer… we now leave out silicone bags filled with raw nuts that he can reach for anytime without question or feedback (and build his brain’s Omega 3’s along with it!), as well as stocked up a ‘snack bar’ for him of healthy snacks that are our backstock- so he will always see them and yet he will be fulfilled that eventually, he eats them too. The difference with this from our pantry is it’s ‘his stuff’ and located near his room!

These are just a few of the ways we’ve been working to help my little guy overcome his food anxieties. Remember mamas, every child is different, and what works for one might not work for another. But by understanding the science behind food insecurity and adopting a positive, patient approach, we can help our littles develop a healthy relationship with food and, more importantly, with themselves.

There will be setbacks, but with a little science, a lot of love, and maybe a sprinkle of glitter on the dinner table (only me?!), we can help our precious kids from hard places find food security and a healthy relationship with food.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s probably snack time somewhere!



The Mind + Body Guide

Ps. I’m such a believer in the ability to use our Mind + Body for healing and helping almost any and every aspect of our personal and professional needs that I literally wrote the book on just that! Check it out on Amazon if you think it would be helpful to you!

Need more personal development? Let’s talk about your success and how I can help! I’m certified as a business, life, health, relationship, and parenting coach… and I just love to find ways to support YOU!