Free parenting workshop on avoiding mealtime battles
“Yuck! Do I have to eat that?” offered in Three Rivers Nov. 19
By Melissa Fales
Ware River News reporter
PALMER – It’s no secret that it can be a challenge for parents to get young children to eat their vegetables and other good-for-you foods. The latest free workshop in the Puzzle of Parenting series, presented by the Collaborative for Educational Services, offers some tips to help parents establish healthy eating habits and make sure their children are getting the nutrients they need. “Yuck! Do I have to eat that?” will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Palmer/Monson Family Network, located at 4 Springfield St., Three Rivers. Parents from all surrounding communities are invited to attend.
Michele LaRock, MS, RDN, LDN, a Registered Dietician, will be leading the workshop. LaRock works at Dragonfly Integrative Care in Amherst where she specializes in wellness and holistic nutrition. In her practice, she helps families with nutrition issues including gastro-intestinal disorders, losing weight, and regulating blood sugar. She is especially interested in helping people incorporate whole foods into their diet with recipes that are tasty and easy to prepare.
LaRock, a parent herself, said she understand how exasperating it can be for parents when they come home tired after a busy day at work and spend time preparing a healthy meal only to find that their children won’t eat it. “It’s very frustrating,” she said.
According to LaRock, scientific studies show that it takes an average of 15 times for the human brain to recognize and accept a new food as familiar. “We tend to give up way before that when our kids say they don’t like something,” she said. “What you have to say is ‘Of course you don’t like it. You haven’t tried it enough times to like it yet.’”
LaRock compares the idea of getting children to eat healthy foods with taking them to be immunized. “When you bring your child to the doctor to get a shot, you tell them that you know it’s going to hurt and they’re not going to like it, but it’s for the best,” she said. “You explain that it keeps them healthy, and that you wouldn’t be a good parent if you didn’t make sure they got the shots they need. It’s the same thing with eating vegetables, only it doesn’t even hurt as much as a shot.”
LaRock said she’ll share tips and techniques that have worked for other parents, including a look at how parents in other countries handle this challenge. “The goal is to raise children who are food adventurous,” said. LaRock. “It has to be done in a matter of fact, loving way,”
The workshop will touch on topics such as how to introduce children to new foods, portion size, and how much parents should push children to eat foods they don’t like. “Come with an open mind and a willingness to try something new,” said LaRock.
This workshop is designed for parents, caregivers, or grandparents of children up to age five. It’s free, but pre-registration is required. To pre-register, call 413-570-3061 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Free childcare is available when requested in advance. Please note how many children and their ages when requesting childcare.
The Puzzle of Parenting workshop series is funded by a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, administered by Collaborative for Educational Services.
For information about upcoming events, call 413-586-4998 x102 or visit www.collaborative.org/early-childhood.