Archive for the 'Feeding Kids' Category

The Endless Eater

Although many parents are concerned about their children eating healthy foods, there are also some who need help with a child who seems to eat endlessly.  These parents have observed that if there is food available, their child will continue to eat.  So if the advice is to let your child decide when they have had enough to eat, what do we do with these children, let them eat endlessly?

That might not be a bad first step.  What would happen if you let the child eat until they decided that they had enough?  How long would they actually continue to eat, especially if you are choosing what foods to offer?  By demonstrating to your child that you are willing to let them make the decision to stop you are proving that you respect their ability to make this decision.  Sometimes allowing them to eat as long as they would like to, assures your child that they are truly in control of their food intake and that there will be enough food if they need it.  This may offer the child enough security to start to eat only what they need at the time.

There are other reasons why a child may seem to eat too much at a snack or meal.  Consider the timing of meals.  If meals are too far apart, then when a child is offered food they may eat as much as they can for as long as they are allowed.  They are protecting themselves from becoming over-hungry and/or because they don’t trust that the next offering of food will happen within a comfortable time for them.  Most children need to be offered a snack or meal every 2.5-3.5 hours.  If this is regularly not happening a child may eat for as long as possible when given the opportunity.

Some children have very high pleasure responses to foods.  These children are eating because it tastes good, eating gives them pleasure.  These children need to be reminded that we stop eating when our bodies feel full, or sated.  After a reasonable amount of food has been eaten ask this child, “Are you felling full, does your belly feel like you have had enough?” Keep helping your child to become sensitive to the feeling that food gives their body, not just their tongue/brain connection.  Guide them to feel a connection between food and reaching a comfortable fullness.  If a child appears to have eaten too much you might ask, “I know that food taste good, but how does your stomach feel?  Is it too full?” Remind them that they need to feel their bellies during eating to know when to stop.

Some children start a meal with gusto.  They can’t seem to get the food in fast enough.  Then you may notice that their pace starts to slow, they are becoming easily distracted, and they are engaging in more conversation or starting to play with others or their food.  As soon as that starts, ask this child if they have had enough food.  Let them know that they can have more later, but maybe now is a time to take a break.  Let them leave the table and find something else to do if the food will be too much of a distraction.

Keep in mind that children offered healthy foods at regular intervals over the course of their week will take in the nutrients and energy that they need.  Once you have done this your job is to only offer suggestions or observations when you feel that eating is becoming inappropriate. Connecting the inappropriate eating with an undesirable effect allows the child to realize that they need to make a change.

http://wizpert.com/beverly

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10 Days or 10 Years

 

I have been advising parents and child care workers that a young child (ages 1-5) may need to see a new food 8-10 times before they may choose to eat it.  This
recommendation is based on peer reviewed studies from the best nutrition based
journals.  I guess none of these studies had enough time or money to study children over ten years.  Well I did. Granted my study population consists only of 1 child, my son.  However I have seen remarkable new food preferences and habits develop over the years, with a crescendo this year when he voluntarily started asking for and eating broccoli, eggs, and mixed green salad that includes raw spinach, carrots, jicama, red peppers and other vegetables.

My son’s case is even more poignant, as for 3 years he had not grown in height and he preferred fun foods to most healthy foods.  Last fall he was diagnosed with
Crohn’s, an autoimmune disease that strikes at the digestive tract.  Many children with Crohn’s have stunted growth.  Then my son started receiving treatment for Crohn’s.  He started to grow (3 inches in 9 months), and started to eat a wider variety of foods.  I believe that now that his body can absorb the nutrients it needed to support growth; it demands that he consume them.

So, keep eating what you want your child to eat.  Offer a variety of foods.  Give no food more or less distinction beyond being a healthy food or a food just for fun.
Then sit back and watch the show.  I have seen my daughter gravitate to dairy foods, which she had previously shunned, as she reached her pre-teen years.  This is a time when the body needs more calcium and without knowing this she asked for cheese, pizza, and yogurt.  My son has gone in and out of wanting raisinsin his lunch.  When he didn’t want them he told me that he hates raisins.  But then some months later he would ask for them.

Keep doing what you know you should do.  It may take 10 days or even 10 years for the message to sink in.  But once a child chooses to eat a food, they will eat it for a lifetime.  This cannot be said for foods a child is forced to eat.

 

Beverly Pressey is a Registered
Dietician with Master’s degrees in Education and Nutrition and
specializes in working with care givers of babies and children.  Beverly
has worked with individuals, presented at conferences, consulted with child
care centers, taught continuing education and college classes, and presented at
numerous parent groups.  As an experienced counselor, cook, teacher,
speaker and a mother of 2, she has a realistic understanding of infant/child
eating patterns plus the perspective of a busy parent.  Beverly lives in
Seattle, Washington, find out more about her and her book at www.creatinghealthyeaters.com

 

 

 

Rewarding with Food

Food is so ubiquitous in our culture, rarely is there a gathering of people where food is not offered, either for free or sold.  Because of this we must be mindful in how and when we offer food, especially fun foods.  We don’t want to turn fun foods into coveted foods.  Healthy eaters eat fun foods, but eat healthy foods most of the time.  Fun foods can become coveted foods when they are offered too infrequently or are used as a reward.

My son played well at his soccer game and his coach said, go out for an ice cream cone.  And we easily could have, it was a warm day, about snack time, and we were in no hurry to get home.  So do I reward th good playing?  Yes, absolutely.  I told my son he should be proud of himself for playing well throughout the game.  I told him I was impressed to see how he kept after the ball,  attempting to score 3 different times as he and the goalie struggled over possession of the ball.  I told about seeing him passing to his team mates and playing his position.  I told him I heard him calling out to his other team mates.  This is one very valuable way to reward your child, without food.  Let them know you saw and heard what they did by retelling the story.  Let them know why they should be proud of themselves for these actions.

Now, you could also go out for ice cream, or not.  But be mindful.  If you only go out for ice cream as a reward for impressive, or unusually good behavior you are using food as an incentive or reward.  If you go out for ice cream, or offer any other fun food, as part of other activities, then the food is not seen as a reward.  Then fun food is just that, food we eat for fun on some occasions, but not necessarily special occasions.

Mixed Marriages

There are many mixed marriages out there.  Carnivores are married to vegans, vegetarians are married to omnivores, raw foodists are married to those who only eat locally grown food, fast food junkies are married to those with lactose intolerance.  So how can a person plan for family meals when each adult has specific food rules, and how to raise the children?

I am all for exposing children to the food traditions, likes and preferences of all adults involved in raising a child.   As the children get older they will ask why certain foods are eaten or not eaten by certain individuals.  This is a great time to discuss food choices, values, traditions and preferences.  Let your children know why you are an omnivore, vegetarian, etc.  Then let them experiment with the foods and ideas presented at your table.   If meat is serve for one family member it should be available for the kids.  If a child wants to follow the lead of the raw food parent, for a meal, a day or forever, let them.   Forcing a child to eat only the foods of one parent or caregiver, when the other parent is eating different foods at the meal can be confusing and sometimes upsetting to a child. Don’t have someone the odd person out.  Don’t extend more or less  value to the choices of one person over the other.

As I have advised against making special food for a child, you don’t want to make special food for a spouse or partner because they only eat raw food.  Make meals that are inclusive.  Have two hearty side dishes, each representing a different food path, or make a main dish representing one type food selection with a side dish, salad or soup representing another.  Perhaps a large raw foods salad, grilled fish and local corn on the cob.  Everyone can eat what meets their own needs.

Enjoy the variety we are fortunate enough to have.  Keep an open mind to the choices of others.  For best healthy eat  a variety of whole simple foods.  Your and your children will thrive,  whatever you choose.

New Foods For New Babies

Food introduction for new parents can be daunting.  There are many books, charts and experts to tell you what to do and how to do it.  But by observing your child you will know more than the experts.  To get started, here are several simple reminders:

  • Make sure your child is ready for solids.  You will know when this happens as your child will, all of a sudden, intently focus on you when you eat.
  • Offer any food that is the proper consistency.  (Think applesauce, or a little thinner.)  You don’t have to start with rice cereal, or offer vegetables before fruits.  Meats or fish, if they are moist and the consistency of applesauce are as good as pureed carrots or blended bananas.  The only food NOT to offer is honey, either room temperature or cooked into a food.  Honey may contain a heat-resistant botulism that can be fatal to infants.
  • It is not your job to get your child to eat.  Just offer a small amount of food on a small spoon—if your child opens his or her mouth, put the food in.  If your child pushed is out with their tongue or gag after 2 tries, stop.  Decrease the thickness of the food. 
  • A grimace is not an indication that your child does not want the food again.  Watch what your child does when you offer the next spoonful.  Only top feeding when your child does not open his or her mouth when the spoon approaches, pushes the food away, or keeps looking away. 
  • Offer only one new food every 3rd day.  After each new food look for signs of allergy, including but not limited to vomiting, rash, swelling of lips or tongue, or diarrhea.  If there is any breathing difficulty, call 911 immediately.
  • Mindful parents don’t entertain at mealtimes and don’t distract the eating process with games, video or music.  Let your child set the pace of the feeding.  Let them decide when they have had enough to eat, whether they ate nothing or more than they have ever eaten before.
  • Your child knows best what they need.  Remember that children’s eating patterns are inconsistent.  Eating a certain amount one day does not mean that the child will usually eat this amount.  Eating or rejecting a food one day does not mean they will eat or reject the same food any other day.  Food acceptance and quantity will change day-to-day and meal to meal.