The three toddler food groups

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The three toddler food groups

The three toddler food groups and how they relate to adult eating.

As far as our little #dictator is concerned there are three food groups.

  1. Real food
  2. Treats
  3. Snacks

Now he declares he doesn’t like real food at every opportunity, he is always game for a treat and snacks he has a love/dislike relationship with on the daily.

When he goes to the table and sees a plate of real food he has a mini melt down and tells us he doesn’t like real food. After that he climbs into his chair and munches away on the pieces he is willing to eat followed by us letting him know he doesn’t have to eat whatever he doesn’t like but we would appreciate if he tries it. Sometime a bribe of a treat is thrown in there because hey let’s face it parenting is hard and we are not perfect.

We always try and put a vegetable on his plate that he is likely to eat, a protein and a fat that he might eat, something he likely has no interest in and a carb that we know he will devour. By doing this we know he isn’t starving but we also know he is being exposed to new foods in a positive manner.

We try and have treats for him in two different situations. The first situation is if he is allowed free reign around treats he has his fill and then he walks away (this makes me so happy every time he does it!). If we limit the treats, then he wants to eat them ALL. The second is he is highly motivated by treats so they are often used as bribes (like I said parenting is hard and we are not perfect).

Most snacks whether they are pre-packaged or homemade he likes them for a little bit of time but quickly gets bored and refuses to eat things he generally loves.

Now that you have read about food life with a toddler you are probably wondering how this relates to us big kids…

We have three food groups as well in the adult world:

  1. Foods, we should eat – All that adult food that we know has nutrients that isn’t our favorite aka real food to the toddler
  2. Foods, we enjoy – Nutrient dense foods that we thoroughly enjoy but if we don’t switch them up we get bored aka snacks to the toddler
  3. Foods, that are unhealthy – Foods that are deemed off limits in a lot of fad diets but in reality, we should enjoy in moderation for sustainable healthy living aka treats to the toddler

For the toddler a plate might look like this:

  1. Beets – he will eat, chicken and cheese – he may or may not eat or even try
  2. Applesauce – He will eat if he hasn’t had it to many days in a row, bread – almost guaranteed he will eat
  3. Treat – Sometimes served on his plate as part of his meal, sometimes as a bribe to at least take a taste of something new that we know he will likely like if he would just try it!

For myself that might look something like this over the course of an evening:

  1. Chicken, cheese or beef – I will eat those for sure. A vegetable or two that I may or may not care for but because I am an adult I will eat 😉 A carb – Some I like some I don’t, but I aim for variety.
  2. A snack that is likely a homemade protein treat that is delicious like a treat but if I have it to often I get bored and I won’t want it and won’t eat it or feel satisfied.

You see to get long term results we need to learn to be persistent with our food choices being varied, tasteful, enjoyable and filled with a little adulting. Sure, broccoli isn’t my first choice but I choose to enjoy it enough to get the health benefits and I enjoy enough truly enjoyable treats to make the broccoli not seem like a chore.

Do this make sense?

Here is a recap:

Take a lesson from a toddler and enjoy all things in moderation. Don’t eat the whole bag of cookies all by themselves.


Enjoy a cookie with foods you know have a ton of nutrition!


Have a great Monday!

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