just eat!

A Dad Goes On The Realest Rant About Getting Toddlers To Eat

“You are always partnered with somebody who has different food philosophies than you, okay?

A dad is going viral for his all-too-real frustrations about meal time with kids and the stressful u...
@drumbeatlane / TikTok

There seems to be some sort of unwritten rule when it comes to parents that no one talks about how freaking stressful meal times can be with children. You could make them pizza, pasta, and a chocolate soufflé, but making a three-course “toddler-friendly” meal does not guarantee a damn thing will end up in their stomach.

One TikTok dad knows this all too well and posted on social media, venting his frustration about meal time with kids and the stressful undertaking of making sure a kid eats.

Justin Kellough, TikTok content creator and dad himself, filmed himself in his car, seemingly stressed, while speaking the hard truth about kids and food.

He claims that no one warned him about the perils of getting kids to not just eat healthy but just to damn eat, so he’s out on the front lines to alert potential parents of this notable stressor.

“If you don't know this, if you haven't had kids yet, here is your warning: 75% of parenting is begging, begging your children to eat,” he says. “And I'm not talking about broccoli and carrots and peas. I am begging my children to eat chicken nuggets and hamburgers and pizza.”

He vents about the canon event of every toddler taking three bites of mac and cheese before asking if they can have a treat or dessert while you, the parent, stare dead into their eyes with rage.

He then addresses the conscious parents who will advise that kids will listen to their bodies and “eat when they’re ready.”

Kellough address a deeper issue with this theory — not that intuitive eating is wrong — just that creating healthy eating habits can be hard when there is so much toxic thinking that parents need to unlearn.

When two parents with their own food baggage try to reason with a toddler who won’t eat — all hell breaks loose.

He continues, “You are always partnered with somebody who has different food philosophies than you, okay? You're broken in certain ways about food. They're broken in different ways about food, and you collide when you're trying to get your kids to eat their dinner.”

One parent is strict, matter-of-fact, and no nonsense when it comes to dinner. They get what they get and if they are hungry later, their dinner plate from earlier will be waiting for them.

“The other parent is the exact opposite,” Kellough explains. “And I don't know if either one is right or wrong, but it forces a conflict in your home on a daily basis.”

And he’s not wrong. Parents who cannot come together on how to approach a frustrating meal time experience will just add on more stress to the situation. Research has proven that there is a strong correlation between parental eating behavior and child eating behavior.

In the caption on the video, the OP jokes about the wonders of family mealtime.

“Can you tell we just got done with another wonderful family dinner where everyone ate until they were full and didn’t complain? I am so tired of begging kids to eat, but I’ll get arrested if they don’t eat, and if they only eat the food they want they will either be morbidly obese or malnourished,” he wrote.

After Kellough posted the vent session, hundreds of parents weighed in with their own parental frustrations about meal times with kids.

“I'm begging my child to drink water its exhausting,” one user wrote.

Kellough replied, “My kid doesn’t drink water because she doesn’t like to stop to go pee. She was getting migraines and we thought it was cancer- she wasn’t hydrated 😑”

Another user wrote, “I also have to beg my kids to just taste foods that normal kids LOVE. they hate nearly everything.”

One mom suggested a simple change to how a meal is presented that may encourage a child to actually eat the food given to them.

“Serve the treat WITH the meal. Then it’s not something they’re just trying to get to. They eat it. Then move on to their meal. Or after or in between,” they wrote.

Another mom suggested using some reverse psychology.

“Parent hack: Make a plate and eat it in front of them....they always want what you have and then give them "your food" watch em clean the plate,” they wrote.

That advice might be helpful, but what’s important here is acknowledgement of the struggle: most toddlers — and sometimes bigger kids, too — are simply really freaking hard to feed. And it’s all part of a normal day for stressed-out parents.