Tips for Avoiding Power Struggles Over Food

Children with Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID) may have a very different diet than their peers, often leading to behavior issues regarding dietary compliance. Parents and caregivers should try to minimize power struggles over food. Below are some tips.

  1. Give a child with CSID as many choices as possible. Try to offer two food alternatives so the child can choose. Some parents have a devoted shelf in their pantry or refrigerator where their child can pick whatever food is desired from prescreened options.
  2. Don’t reward behavior with food. This tip may be difficult to follow since modern society often uses food as a reward. Instead of offering a treat for good behavior or good grades, offer a fun, family activity such as a trip to a park, or for older children, a gift card to a favorite store.
  3. Don’t show anger or frustration over food issues. There will be times when you are frustrated with your child’s diet or food choices. If possible, try not to express that frustration when your child may observe it.
  4. Regularly involve your child in food planning or preparation. Children are more likely to be excited about their food and eating when they have some input in the process.
  5. Don’t force feed. Ultimately, you cannot make children eat, even though it is important to ensure they get proper nutrition. Insisting they eat against their will can cause additional power struggles.
  6. Model positive eating habits for your child. This tip may involve altering the foods you consume in front of your child with CSID.
  7. Keep introducing new foods. Research shows that kids may need to see a new food five or six times before they accept it.
  8. Do not talk about the financial implications of your child’s special diet. A CSID diet may be expensive, but do not pass this burden of guilt by discussing expenses in front of your child. Explore options for reducing the cost of foods required for a CSID diet, such as buying foods in bulk or using coupons.
  9. Try to make mealtimes positive experiences. Whether it is family games, religious observances, or just discussing each family members’ day, try to build a positive tone when gathered for a family meal.
  10. For older children, sometimes natural consequences are the best way to learn. In other words, sometimes older children may insist on eating something they should not. Being uncomfortable or spending a significant amount of time in the bathroom may be ample motivation for them to follow their diet more regularly in the future.