The parenting coach podcast with Crystal

S08|20 - Picky Eating and ADHD Kids with Shawna Hughes

May 27, 2024


Do your kids struggle to eat the food you prepare at the dinner table each night? If you have a picky eater, you probably already know that dinner can become a stressful, high-pressure, and sometimes highly contentious time. If you want dinner to be fun, engaging and connecting instead, tune into this conversation with Shawna Hughes for ideas on how to help reverse picky eating. 

Shawna Hughes is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and mother of 2 girls. She specializes in eliminating picky eating using a positive, child-centered approach that the whole family enjoys. She sees adventurous eating as a learned skill and shows parents how to create an ideal learning environment and easily teach children how to go from picky to foodie.

In this episode: 

  • We talk about ADHD behaviours and how regulation and mood are connected to the foods we eat 
  • What foods to implement with our ADHD kids (and all kids) to help support nutrition 
  • How do deal with hangry kids (and why it’s happening) 
  • Picky eaters and how we can do our part as parents to help grow adventurous eaters 
  • Making dinner time fun again 

Connect with Shawna- 

Shawna has a background in Psychology and specializes in providing individualized Nutrition support for children with ADHD. You can contact her at [email protected] or find her online at


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Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hi, I'm Crystal The Parenting Coach. Parenting is the thing that some of us just expected to know how to do. It's not like other areas of your life where you go to school and get taught, get on the job training, or have mentors to help you, but now you can get that help here.

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Picky Eating and ADHD Kids with Shawna Hughes

Do your kids struggle to eat food at the dinner table each night? If you have a picky-eater – like I do – you probably already know that dinner can very quickly become stressful and high pressure, and sometimes really high contention – even though you're trying to make it fun and engaging and connecting, and you have this idea of how you want your dinner time to be. 

So, we talked to Shawna Hughes on ideas of how to help reverse picky-eating and make dinner fun again. 

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and mother of two girls. She specializes in eliminating picky-eating using a positive child-centered approach that the whole family enjoys. 

In this episode, we're going to talk all about ADHD behaviors, and how they're interconnected with regulation and mood and food and all of that. We're also going to talk about what foods to implement with our ADHD kids – and honestly, just all kids – to help support their nutrition, and how to deal with hangry kids and why it's happening.

I had a lot to ask her about this because I have a hangry kid of my own. We talk about picky-eaters, and how we can do our part as parents to help grow adventurous eaters instead. And also, just how can we make dinner this fun, safe connecting time again – instead of this high pressure, not comfortable time that it can often be if you have a picky-eater in your house. 


Hello everyone, and welcome to today's podcast episode. I'm excited for this episode because I have a lot of questions about this. If you are anything like me, maybe you have some picky-eaters…I have definitely had picky-eaters in the past, and I have one picky-eater still left in my home, maybe two. 

And I have a lot of questions about picky-eating; and I especially have a lot of questions around ADHD and food stuff because I have noticed that in my own home, especially with my own kids. 


What Shawna Hughes does and how she got started

Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, I'm excited for this interview. If you are supporting somebody with ADHD or if you have kiddos that are picky-eaters, this episode is going to be for you. I brought my friend Shawna onto the podcast, and I will get her to tell us a little bit about her and what she does.


Shawna Hughes: Hi, thanks for having me, Crystal. My name's Shawna Hughes. I'm a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. I'm from Mississauga just outside Toronto, but I work virtually. So, I have clients all around the world; and I specialize in helping parents develop dietary plans, dietary interventions including food and supplements to support kids with ADHD to address things that may be aggravating ADHD behavior in the diet. 

And I also help to reverse picky-eating, which is, as I'm sure most people know, is much more common among the ADHD populations. 

So, I work in a very learning-based child-focused way to reverse picky-eating without using any punishments, bribes, any of the-- any of the things that I know you avoid using as well, Crystal.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah, so I was just telling her about before the podcast, because I love to have people on where we can kind of discuss differing opinions, but I also like to make sure that people are at least aligned with what it is that I teach and speak about. 

So, I was like, 'Okay, wait, this is, this is what we do. This is our jam. What do you think? Is it aligned?' 

And so, I'm excited to have you on. I would love to first talk about ADHD and just behavioral related-- behaviorally related things that you see with kids with ADHD and food. And then we'll kind of move on to picky-eating, in general, because I think a lot of people just, even if they don't have highly sensitive kids or ADHD kiddos, deal with picky-eating as well.


ADHD behaviours and how regulation and mood are connected to the foods we eat

Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, let's first dive into, what do you notice behaviorally when it comes to ADHD and food? Like, what is the correlation there?


Shawna Hughes: Right. Well, I always tell people you can't-- we're not going to cure ADHD through changing diet, and it certainly isn't caused by diet. But what we see is there are things in the diet that can cause behaviors that aggravate ADHD behaviors, if that makes sense. 

So, if you have a kid who's eating a lot of high carb, high-sugar foods, not enough protein, not enough fat…and their blood sugar is kind of bouncing up and down all day, they're going to tend towards sugar highs, sugar rushes, whatever you want to call it – when kids get kind of hyper after eating a lot of sugar. 

And then they're going to crash and get brain fog, and they're going to get irritable. Sometimes we call it hanger and we laugh about it, but it's actually fairly unnatural for people to have that irritability just caused by lack of food for a few hours. 

So, we know with ADHD, it causes a lot of hyperactivity and jitteryness and whatnot. So, if you're already jittery and hyperactive, we don't want to have a diet that is also going to cause jittery and hyperactivity. And it's kind of adding insult to injury, adding flame to the-- fuel to the fire. 

And similar with brain fog, right? If you have a kid who's really distractible who can't focus, you certainly don't want to be giving them foods that are going to cause that sugar crash where you just are completely zoned-out. I didn't know about you personally, Crystal…like when I eat high sugar foods an hour later, I'm just useless, just completely.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: I do that brain fog thing you're talking about. I have that so much, and I can feel-- In fact, I just decided this month I was going to do like low to no sugar for the month, just to kind of reset. 

Because I was just feeling that coming on again, that I was just kind of in this foggy space where it was hard for me to really focus on things in the way that I wanted to and feel that clarity…that like sharpness in my mind that I often feel, and I know that it's always--  

For me, it's always connected to gluten and sugar. And I don't know how I know that. Like I've never done any research or studies about this whatsoever, but I do believe in intuition and I believe that we can kind of know things.


What foods to implement with our ADHD kids (and all kids) to help support nutrition

Crystal The Parenting Coach: And when I started to kind of dig into like, when am I feeling what and what am I eating before that and what do I think is the cause of that…for me, brain fog is always connected to overly gluten food and also sugar. And because I do what I do and I need my brain to do what I do effectively, it's really important to me to be aware of that. 

So, tell me, kind of, what foods you see affecting, especially, kiddos with ADHD and what to do about it.


Shawna Hughes: So, a lot of the time, it's sort of a combination of too many high carb – and especially refined carb foods. So, I don't want anyone to think I'm saying don't eat any grains or fruits or vegetables because those are all high carb-- yeah, they're mainly carbohydrate foods, but they're not refined carbs. 

So, when you have something that's a whole vegetable, a whole fruit, or a whole grain, something-- you know, bowl of oatmeal…those are high carbs foods, but they're not refined. 

So, basically when you have a refined thing like a cookie or crackers…you know, just basic goldfish crackers, something that's not a lot of weight to it – or just plain rice, rice cake – those are things that are, they convert to glucose really quickly in your blood, so they cause your blood sugar to go up a little bit. 

And especially if it's a high sugar thing, right? So, high sugar cereals, a lot of the time, kids are eating things like Froot Loops in the morning and that's it. So, they're getting that little boost of energy, and then an hour later at school they're kind of staring off into space or they can't focus or they're angry. Right? 

We see kids at school a lot of the time getting very irritated, and that can be really-- that can be really aggravated by that high sugar and that crash. And kids, you know, oftentimes they don't know what's going on, right? They just know, I feel like garbage. And, you know, it's very unfortunate. 

And then there's the issue of not enough protein and fat. So, a lot of kids, their favorite foods are things that are really high carbs, right? Goldfish crackers, cookies, Froot Loops, muffins, all of these things that are the quick grab and go high carb foods. 

And when kids eat a lot of those, it pushes out the opportunity for other foods, other proteins that would be better options. You know, like eggs, yogurt, anything with meat in it is going to be a more sustainable-- a more sustainable choice because those foods slow down that sugar spike and sugar crash, right? 

We want our sugar in our blood to be fairly stable all day long. It's not going to be flat otherwise, that's just not how humans work. But every time you eat, it should go up a little bit, and then come back down; and go up a little bit, and come back down. It shouldn't be spiking and jumping all over the place; that's not great for mental health or physical health, actually.


The best meal plan for kids with ADHD

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. So, ideally, if you have a kiddo with ADHD and you're kind of trying to avoid this – so they have a little bit more mental clarity, a little bit less anger around things – what kind of foods would you suggest that they eat throughout the day?


Shawna Hughes: Yeah, so for breakfast, we try-- Well, I always try and work with what people like, what they're already into – so we're not introducing all these things and, and getting a lot of kickback from-- or getting a lot of pushback rather from kids. 

So, in the morning, including things like eggs, like yogurt, little breakfast sausages especially – you can get cleaner ones now, I think Greenfield is a Canadian one that has cleaner products. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.


Shawna Hughes: Applewood, I think it's called in the states, has them. 

Even higher protein granola type cereals. So, rather than going for something like Rice Krispies, which is very carby and doesn't have a lot of fiber or protein or fat, you can get things like granola. 

The company Nature's Path makes a lot granolas that are quite proteiny and have higher fat values. 

So, they are a little bit higher in sugar than you would see in a typical cereal, but because they have so much more protein and fat and fiber, it evens out. It's basically more like a complete meal than something like a Rice Krispies. 

And then throughout lunch – this is another issue – a lot of kids are just taking, you know, Goldfish crackers and fruit and a few pieces of cucumber…and then maybe those Judi things for lunch…or a sandwich with hardly anything on it, right? Just like a really thin layer of something on it, a jam sandwich or something. 

So, we want to make sure that we are getting in some sort of protein and fat throughout the day. So, when you're making a sandwich, try and make a chicken sandwich versus a very thin layer of jam – or a cheese sandwich is a better option. If yogurt can stay cold in their lunch box device, send them with something like yogurt. 

There's little things you can buy now…little energy bites. Good Bites is the main Canadian company that makes that. You can make little energy balls using nut and seed butters, depending on the school rules. 

Nuts and seeds themselves, right? A Trail Mix, you can make homemade Trail Mix. The company Healthy Crunch makes trail mixes that are school-safe. So, they have dried-up-- dried-up fruits and seeds in them. So, things like this that we can sort of--  

It's usually about adding versus taking away, right? Especially for lunches. So, rather than adding that second-- If you have a Bento box, rather than adding more carbs, fill one of them with something more proteiny…beef jerky, even – those little Pepperettes that you can get. 

What's another option you could do? I was just thinking hummus. If you're having a kid bringing crackers, have some hummus there…chickpea snacks. There's a lot of stuff in it. Yeah, there's a lot.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: What about the-- I'm curious about the-- Does it change at all the frequency of times that they're eating throughout the day? Like, is that connected whatsoever? 

You know, like, we eat now…and then an hour and a half later, we're hungry – and then two hours later, we're hungry. 

Should we be trying to have more of these kinds of foods? Like you're talking about three meals a day versus, I know this is like something that people talk about all the time. They're like, how frequently should you be eating? 

And I know that all of my dental friends say as low frequency as possible because it's better for your teeth But I'm curious from a more inside your body perspective what you would say about that.


Shawna Hughes: Yeah, I would say, I agree. The more-- If you can get more protein and fat and fiber into each meal, you will need to eat less frequently because that's what makes you hungry. 

And sometimes it's not even real hunger, it's just that sensation that blood sugar is low…I feel kind of gross, I'm tempted to eat because your body kind of knows that food will get rid of that sensation. 

So, the more that we can balance blood sugar with a more complete meal each time, the fewer times that you'll feel hungry and spaced out and other symptoms you get from that. Yeah, from eating those carb, those higher carb things, those higher sugar things. 

And for sure, because you'll see in cultures like France where…there aren't snacks, right? There's breakfast, there's lunch, there's after school – I guess – tea is what we would call it here…and then the late-night dinner, and that's it. But they're eating more at each setting, and they're eating more complete meals like cheese and meat. 

So, I would say, for sure, because also – and we'll get into that with picky-eating – too many snacks, is the enemy of not having a picky-eater.


How do deal with hangry kids (and why it’s happening)

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I want to talk about that, but before we get head into picky-eating, can we mention-- can we talk about hanger? Because I have a child that's like super hangry. And she has all these things that you're talking about – only loves eating, I don't know, very simple like rice cakes or, you know, just a little bit of fruit here and there. 

So, where does that come from? Where does hangry come from and what can we do about it?


Shawna Hughes: Like, why is-- Why does the blood sugar lead to the hanger, you mean?


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. Or like, what's it-- Do you see this more often in ADHD kiddos or is this just like common? Like if you were eating, you know, the more simple and the more high carb foods, is it just going to naturally lead to that because of blood sugar?


Shawna Hughes: Yeah. It tends to naturally lead to that. But when kids have ADHD and they're already more prone to outbursts – more prone to tantrums, more prone to irritability – it's just-- again, it's adding fuel to the fire. So, you're already feeling a bit, you know--


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Just regularly irritable.


Shawna Hughes: Mm-Hmm. Moody, maybe. I guess you would say moody. A lot of the times kids with ADHD, and then you get that blood sugar crash…someone asks you to do something and ah-- You know, it is a-- It is much-- It's just, kind of-- It's exaggerating that response. But it is with all kids. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.


Shawna Hughes: With anyone who's eating a lot of high carbs, an hour or two later, they're going to-- they're going to feel peckish – you might say – and get a little bit cranky or sometimes a lot cranky if they don't eat. 

And sometimes that's just an individual difference in how we, in how we tolerate glucose. And actually, I read a research paper not too long ago that people with ADHD, they don't have as good of a glucose tolerance – we call it – so they do kind of process sugar a little bit differently, at least according to this paper I read. So, there is going to be that more extreme spike in crash meaning the more extreme hyperactive reaction and that followed by--


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. So, kiddos with ADHD deal with dysregulation, right? Which is where--   


Shawna Hughes: Yeah. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: -you know, extreme moods up and down; and it doesn't take-- doesn't take much to get there. And so, I think that's what we're talking about here is that if we want to kind of dampen that dysregulation a little bit more, we can help support them through the foods that they're eating throughout the day. 


Shawna Hughes: Exactly. Yeah.


Picky eaters and how we can do our part as parents to help grow adventurous eaters

Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, let's move on to picky-eating then, because people might be listening to this and be thinking, okay, yeah, whether or not my kid has ADHD like, I noticed these things, I would love to make some of these changes. But (A) it sounds like a lot of work, and (B) what do I do with a kid that does not want to implement any new foods and hates new foods? Then what do we do there?


Shawna Hughes: Right? So, I think it really depends on what stage of picky-eating we're at. So, if your kid has just started to reject new foods, or have they always been picky? Was there some shift at some point where they became picky? 

But in all of these cases, the things that work best are having healthy food routines…having boundaries that you stick to, and treating food as an enjoyable part of your day versus a sort of chore or afterthought that you're kind of just doing whenever, wherever, however. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm.


Shawna Hughes: So, a lot of the times, the issue is dinner time, right? You want them to eat some sort of chicken or fish, and it's just not going to happen. So, many parents now – perhaps fewer in your listening group because maybe there's more traditional families, but meaning everyone eats together…everyone's home. 

You know, there's a nuclear family. But in general, it is much, much easier to get kids to change their behavior in a certain framework. So, if we think of it as learning, and it is learning. So, kids who are picky just have not learned to be adventurous eaters. 

And as we were speaking before the podcast…with reading, with, with coding, with anything, some kids are going to learn a lot faster – and some kids are going to need repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition and patience and patience and patience. So, it does take a little while to significantly change picky-eating. 

But the first thing we need to do is think of it as a learning experience, because that generally creates a lot more patience on the part of parents. Right? Or they're not thinking of it as my kid is such a difficult brat; they're thinking of it as, 'Okay, they just-- they're learning still. They're learning still.'

And setting up a proper framework. So, for example, eating at the same time every day and not snacking two hours before dinner, can have a big impact because that's setting up a routine, right? 

First of all, they're going to be more hungry at dinner time, which means they're going to be more likely to try foods. And they're in the habit of sitting down at that same time, at that same place every single day. 

Because you think of, as a classroom…what if-- would your kid learn math easier if they were in a different classroom every day – where things were kind of unpredictable, where they weren't really sure when math class was happening, or sometimes they were doing math in the car on the way somewhere? 

It's kind of the same thing. We want to create a very predictable routine…a very comfortable, positive environment where optimal learning is going to take place. So, trying to have that dinner at the same time every day, a roundabout, right? 

It doesn't have to be exactly six o'clock on the dot, but having the same time every day – eating together at the table versus in the car, on the run, one kid over here, one kid over there…not having screens at the table so you can really focus on what's going on, and create a positive environment around that food. 

So, a lot of people right now, especially when they come to me, they've given up doing it on their own and they're saying, "Help me." 

They'll say, "It's such a negative atmosphere at our table because we sit, and then we give our kids this food and they don't eat it. They just sit there and complain. And then we try and convince them, or we question them, why aren't you eating this?


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. There's so much pressure. 


Shawna Hughes: Exactly. Exactly. And we can liken that too. If a kid was trying to learn to read and you were sitting there going, "Well, you read that word last week, what's the-- What's the problem? Like, why aren't you reading it now? Just read it."


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Well, just do it slower. Just sound it out. Just like, why can't you figure it out? Right? 


Shawna Hughes: Exactly. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: And you'd be like, well, obviously reading is not going to be very, very fun. Not only are they not going to learn, but it's going to really create some disconnect in that relationship also. Yeah.


Shawna Hughes: Exactly. And what happens is kids will start hating coming to the dinner table. They get in that pattern of, I come here, I reject something, and there's two of-- Two of two things can happen, right? Either you give them an alternate food, so now you've just taught them that complaining about what's on the table, gets them an alternate food. So, why wouldn't they keep on doing that? Right?


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Complain about it. Yep.


Make food fun at the table

Shawna Hughes: And then you've also-- Or if the opposite happens, if you just say, "Well, that's all we have," and start badgering them to eat it, then you're teaching them that this is an unpleasant experience that they don't want to come to anymore. They're coming stressed out. And stress, for most people, is an appetite killer, right? 

Just think about if you go to a restaurant and then you see someone that you really can't stand across the room, your appetite sinks and you don't want to be there anymore. Right? 

So, in my programs, what I do, and I encourage everyone to try and make food fun at the table. Right? Try not to focus on what they're eating, just focus on fun conversation. Don't ask how school's going. because that might not be going well – especially if your kid has ADHD or another, another learning difference. 

But, you know, have fun little games…have would you rather – with little kids play I Spy. I have a free picky-eating guide people can download on my website if they want it. It has a whole bunch of conversation starters that you can use to make coming to the mealtime fun for kids so that they let down their guard, and they'll start to get more open to trying new foods. 

And again, it's one thing to change that environment, but then we need to be consistent. It's the same with learning everything, right? Kids who practice piano once a month, are not going to learn as well as kids who practice for 10 minutes every day. It has to be that consistent routine of trying new foods, of having new foods presented, being around them…getting more comfortable with them. 

Like if you give a kid, you know, fish and they freak out and say, "Oh my gosh, I hate fish," and then you never show them fish again, they're never going to eat it. Right? They're going to get-- You've taught them that this is so bad that it can't even be in your presence. It's just like a literal phobia…if you're afraid of spiders and you avoid spiders, you will get more afraid of spiders. 

So, even though kids may not be afraid of food, they have a really negative reaction to it. We have to get them desensitized to that by just saying, "Okay, you don't have to eat this, but it's going to be here. It's going to be an option at dinner tonight. This is-- This is our dinner. This is what I made. This is all we have. And you know, I'd like you to try it. You don't need to eat it all, but I'd like you to try it. It's part of the dinner."


Making dinner time fun again

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm. And if they decide they're not going to try it, and you said like, you know, we don't want to be like, okay, let's just make you something else. But we also don't want to be like, well, we're going to sit, going to sit here and tell you eat it

And if they're, you know, sitting there and refusing to eat whatever the food is and that is the meal, what do you suggest about that, in order to still keep that relationship in the more fun atmosphere and the low pressure?


Shawna Hughes: Yeah. So, I always tell people you need to have-- At meal times, you need to be offering them something that is what some picky-eater specialists call a safe food – I think that's kind of a weird way of putting it – but we'll say a food that they have eaten many times in your presence without complaint. You know it's one of their foods. 

It may not be a favorite, right? It may not be chocolate, but it could be bread or rice or carrots – a lot of kids like carrots, right? So, we want to make sure that there's a significant amount of food on their plate that you've seen them eat a lot of times. And you know if they eat it, they're going to be pretty full. 

So, that them eating that other food, that fish or that chicken or that lasagna, doesn't become an emergency, in your mind. Because that's what parents think; they think, 'Oh no, now they're not going to eat and they're going to be starving. And I've caused them to have an eating disorder and everything else under the sun.'

But if they have enough food there, that you've seen them eat-- So, if I give my kids a bunch of rice and carrots, and they don't want to eat whatever else I've made them – let's say lamb or something that's not typical for us…I'm not going to give them something else because I know if they eat all the rice and the vegetables, that's fine, they're full. 

Maybe it's not the greatest, most balanced meal, but it's not-- it's not an emergency. So, you have-- We have phrases that we can use, like, thank you for trying it, I know it takes a while to like something sometimes and we can just try again. Or saying things like, "Your taste buds are always changing, so you might like that one day." 

Even sharing, "I didn't use to like that either, but now I do because our taste buds can actually learn," which is true; you're not lying to them. Your taste buds will actually learn to like whatever you eat a lot. This is why we have different cuisines, right? This is why Mexican people eat Mexican food and Italian people eat Italian food. Whatever you're exposed to, what you eat over and over again becomes what you like. 

You don't need to say-- I do encourage parents to say to kids, like, the rule at our table is you have to try it. You don't have to swallow it, but you need to taste it just so that your taste buds can learn, and you can learn to like new foods because that is an important life skill – just like reading, just like math, just like everything else they do…getting dressed. 

So, we do need to try it, but we can go at their pace. Right? We can go at their pace.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm. And I think also going along with this is that sometimes if we say something like, "Okay, everybody's going to try it," and they don't, then that's when we try to push or we try to force or we try to do a reward or a punishment or whatever.

And I can attest to that backfiring in my own home and also when I was a child. And so, just be open to that, it might not happen. And I think also knowing that, like you said, it's developmental, like all of the things that we learn is developmental. 

And my taste buds have hugely changed; I can think of dozens of foods that I would refuse to eat when I was growing up that are my favorite foods now. And I tell my children that all the time. 


Shawna Hughes: Yeah. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: I'm like, 'As you age, this might be one of your favorite foods. Isn't that crazy to think that like, this might actually be your favorite food in 10 years, even though you don't want to try it now? 


Shawna Hughes: Yeah. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, I think saying things like that really releases that pressure of like, this is something you have to do and we have to do it now. Which again, like you said, they're going to have a better relationship with food…with the dinner table, with you and just be more open, more safe, more secure and more willing to try things. 

So, I love these tips that you've given us. Thank you so much. Is there anything, like, any last little bits that you want to-- you want to mention about picky-eating or ADHD?


Final tip from Shawna Hughes

Shawna Hughes: Just that, so if you want those phrases, you can-- Again, there's a free guide you can get off my website just because if parents are trying to write things down. 


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.


Shawna Hughes: As they're listening, it's easier to just go and get that. But yeah, the other thing is just to know that you need to do this according to your kids' personality and preferences. 

So, what you just said, saying, "Isn't that crazy that I used to not like this and now I do?" That might work for some kids. Some kids it may not. 

For some people it may be joking, right? It may be, let me see if we can throw this key up in the air and catch it in my mouth. And that might be how they try it. 

For some people it might be…let's squish this up and rub it on our tongue, and then see what happens. Like, you need to go with your kids' personality because you know better than I do…what makes them tick and what's going to-- what's going to work for them. 

And sometimes there is a reward system, right? The only time I actually do reward systems with picky-eaters is to try new foods. So, not for eating a certain amount, but every day you try new food, you get a little mark on your reward chart; at the end of the week, you get a movie night or something that's very cheap and easy and doesn't build up over time to be unsustainable. But you know, the way that it's going to work is to go with your kids'--

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm.


Shawna Hughes: -go with your kids' personality and what you know that interests them, right? If they're--


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah, I think that that just goes with what we talk about here often is that you're your own parenting expert. So, you get to listen to all this information and you get to digest it, and think, 'Okay, I think I know how this could work for my kids and for my family and for my personality and for theirs.' And just tap into that intuition, that inner knowing that you have to know what you feel like is best for you. 

And don't just go what with we say, even if it's something different than what we've said on the podcast here, what works for you is going to be the thing that works.


Shawna Hughes: Mm-Hmm. Exactly.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Just know that. Know that you're the expert, especially in your own home. 


Shawna Hughes: Yeah.


How to connect with Shawna Hughes

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thank you so much, Shawna, for coming on the podcast. If somebody wants to connect with you, where can they find you?


Shawna Hughes: You can find me at and then links to Instagram are on there, and you can get free guide and check me out on there.


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Sounds great. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast today.


Shawna Hughes: Thanks, Crystal.

Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to help spread this work to the world, share this episode on social media and tag me, send it to a friend, or leave a quick rating and review below so more people can find me. If you'd like more guidance on your own parenting journey, reach out.

Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child
Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child

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