Tips for Feeding Kids
The bible for feeding children is a book called How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much written by registered dietitian and sociologist Ellyn Satter. You may also want to check out her web site at www.ellynsatter.com. She discusses the principles of a normal, healthy feeding relationship from infancy up to adolescence. As a parent or caregiver, she suggests you are responsible for providing healthy food for your children in a form they can easily handle. What your child chooses to eat and whether or not he or she eats at all is your child’s responsibility. This is not to suggest that you need to run a restaurant and give them made-to-order meals. However, be aware that beginning in infancy, we are all the boss of our own bodies and our internal hunger and fullness cues. No one can make us eat if we aren’t hungry or don’t want to eat. Remember what you were like as a kid?
Getting Kids more Interested in Healthy Eating
1. Involve children in meal preparation: The sooner kids take an active role in helping to make meals, the more they begin to accept new foods and the less picky they are. Kids as young as two to three can be involved by scrubbing potatoes, tearing lettuce for a salad, arranging vegetables on a platter, shaping cookies or stirring the pancake batter. Older children can cut up vegetables, shape burger patties or set the table. Involvement helps build a child’s self-esteem.
2. Allow kids to serve themselves at the table: Try not to dictate what foods the kids must have. How do you like it when someone dishes out what you should eat?
3. School-age children should pack their own lunch: If not the whole thing, at least get the children involved in packing part of the lunch. This way they are more likely to eat it and not throw it out or bring it home untouched. Suggest they include foods from at least three if not all four of the food groups and perhaps a treat if desired. Letting them pack their own lunch may take more patience, but it’s worth it if they actually eat the lunch.
4. Eat meals at the table with the television turned off: The fewer distractions at mealtime, the better. When your children are finished eating, they can either excuse themselves or help with the cleanup.
5. Save uneaten meals for a snack later: Everyone will eat just about anything if they are hungry enough. If your child refuses to eat at mealtime but comes back an hour afterward saying she’s hungry, offer the dinner leftovers as the only choice.
6. Limit after-school snacking: Usually kids are famished after school so allow them to snack. Just set a limit on the amount they eat so they don’t displace their appetite for dinner. After school, when kids are ravenous, may be the best opportunity for them to eat vegetables or other foods they’re least likely to get the rest of the day. Try offering a vegetable platter with dip! Consider serving dinner at 4:30pm if needed.
7. Limit the junk food stocked in the house: It’s often simply a case of out of sight, out of mind. If the kids know there is no junk food to snack on that usually leaves healthier options like fruit or vegetables.
8. Don’t run a restaurant: If you have prepared a healthy meal but your child refuses to eat it, don’t feel obliged to provide other options.
9. Don’t expect your kids to eat what you won’t: If Dad hates vegetables, it will be hard to get your child to eat them. If Mom hates milk, chances are your child won’t like it either. Try to be a good role model.