Posts Tagged 'family dinners'

No Dessert Unless You Eat Your Dinner

“No dessert unless you eat your dinner.”  Does that remind you of yourself when you come home from work?  Is that how you want your kids to remember you? As the parent that is gone all day, comes home, yells at the kids and denies them dessert?  Probably not.  You are likely a very loving, concerned, hard working parent.  So don’t let meal time make you in to the bad guy or girl.

 When the family sits down to eat, don’t comment on what your kids are eating or not.  Whoever provided the meal has already done the adult job, offering appropriate food at appropriate intervals.  At this point you have three jobs.  First is to model table manners, and correct inappropriate table manners.  Second is to model food acceptance by eating and enjoying the food.  Third is to have conversation with your children.  Don’t talk about anything that would make your child uncomfortable at the table, find other times to discuss problems.  Family meals are not the time to reprimand for past poor judgment, errors, or moments of downright meanness, or to warn against similar errors in the future.  Think of the dinner table as a place where everyone comes with a clean slate.

 If your child refuses to eat a certain food, or eat nothing at all, be nonjudgmental.  Feel free to remind them that if they are hungry now is the time to eat and that there will be no food offered after dinner.  Don’t let them have anything that is not on the table.  Don’t let them make a snack after dinner.  You don’t have to punish them for not eating; hunger will be a natural consequence if they choose not to eat. 

 Some children have eaten enough calories (energy) and met their nutritional needs in the 4-5 eating opportunities they had previous to dinner time.  Therefore by dinner time they can afford to be picky.  If a child hasn’t fulfilled their energy and nutritional needs and chooses not to eat, their body will provide appropriate feedback.  You don’t have to.  You can continue to enjoy your meal and your family.

What about dessert?  Let your child eat it whether they have eaten or not.  Don’t get into a power struggle.  An appropriate portion of dessert is not a big deal.  Arguing, bribing, or negotiating with your child every night is the problem, not the dessert  If your child has already consumed the necessary nutrients and calories they need for the day, they are eating the dessert solely because it taste good, which is why everyone eats dessert.  If your child did not get enough calories and nutrients during the day, eating the dessert will not satisfy their body.  They will be hungry in short order; their body is providing the feedback, not you.  If they ask for snack, remind them that they chose not to eat dinner and that now they need to wait for snack.  Some children do very well when the dessert is offered during the dinner.  The child will eat their portion of dessert first so the tension is gone.  Now they can enjoy the meal. They will eat if they are still hungry.  You are smiling, relaxed, calm, and happy to be home with your family.

Purees are for Babies and Really Old People, Not Family Fare

Why does Jessica Sienfeld think that families want to eat foods with pureed vegetables?  Why does she think that using recipes that require cooking and pureeing vegetables are good or simple and will uncomplicate busy lives?  Does she have nothing better to do than trick her family into eating vegetables?  Have you ever tried to hide a food in another food?   As soon as you do someone walks into the kitchen, sees what you are doing and refuses to eat that food or any other soup, casserole or recipe involving stirring more than 2 vegetable together.  It is so sad to me that her family can not trust that what they see is not always what they get.  

Does Seinfeld know that most chidren and adults will eventually choose to eat vegetables in their natural state?  Once they enjoy fresh or cooked vegetables they will enjoy them for a life time.  Of course, if they have never seen an intact vegetable perhaps they would have some tredidation.  Perhaps her family thinks all vegetables are to eaten in an applesauce like consistency.  When children and adults see clean cut carrot sticks, shiny green broccoli on top of noodles or green beans stir fryed with oil and garlic, they are attracted to it.  They choose vegetables as a normal enjoyable part of their diet.  Children who eats hidden broccoli puree will never learn to like broccoli because they don’t even know they are eating it. These children will never choose broccoli once they are away from home as they have never actually had it or seen it.  

Purees are for babies or people with no teeth, not for families, not for adults and not for busy people. 

Moving on the Finger Foods

Babies usually let us know when they are ready for solids.  They keenly watch our every bite, lean towards our food, and point at it.  Most of us feel guilty for eating in front of them.  The mindful parent sees these cues, which are hard to ignore, and starts to feed their baby solids.  But how do you know when your baby is ready for finger foods and no longer needs purees and thick, liquid foods?  The signs are there, if you know where to look.

 Finger foods are foods that are solid, but soft or easily chewed, such as Cheerios, cooked beans, pieces of banana, skinned banana, canned peach or pear, steamed carrots, boneless salmon, shredded cheese, tofu, berries and slices of toast are but a few.  People foods are the foods you regularly feed your family, with the exception of choking foods such as (but not limited to) most raw vegetables, hard apples and fruit with the peel, hard small candies and nuts, whole hot dogs, and any thick goopy food like a dollop of peanut butter or cream cheese.

Keep in mind that physical development goes along with progression of foods, from purees to finger foods to people foods.  Be mindful and look for the signs of readiness.  Your baby started solids when they were able to push up on their arms with straight elbows while resting on their belly, had good head control and was a supported sitter.  When your child has progressed to being a very stable sitter, pulls up to stand, and can hold small objects between their thumb and first finger, they are usually ready for finger foods.  You will observe this, on average, between 8-10 months but age is not important. 

Don’t hold your child back by continuing with exclusively purred foods.  It’s more work for you and not the right work for them.  Your child needs to be able to explore developmentally appropriate foods just like they need developmentally appropriate play objects and environments.   Part of their work when they can pick up small objects is to pick up small objects.  Let your child learn to use their hands to get food into their mouths.  Let them learn that it is easier to pick up peas than applesauce.  Let them hold their own (open mouth) cup and learn to control the direction and flow of water.  Yes, this will be messy, but parents knows that practice makes perfect.  So you need to let them practice.

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.

Corn Sugar And Other Sweet Secrets

Corn Sugar And Other Sweet Secrets

 

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is tired of being the evil demon of food.  So the corn industry, which produces HFCS from corn, is changing the name to corn sugar.  Sounds down-right healthy doesn’t it.  What could possible by the problem with an extract of corn?  But keep in mind any type of sugar added to any food is not healthy.  Furthermore, a study at Princeton University in March 2010 found that when rats were fed the same amount of calories of either HFCS or sugar, those that ate the HFCS gained weight and had symptoms related to heart disease and obesity.  The researchers theorized that HFCS, with a higher percentage of fructose than sucrose, is stored as fat, where extra calories of sugar are stored as energy.   

The sugar industry also pulls one over on us in two other ways.  The first is by having sugar on the nutrition label of food packaging listed in grams.  Do you know how much sugar is 31 grams, the amount of sugar found in 6 ounces of many fruit flavored yogurts?  If the amount of sugar was listed in teaspoons or tablespoon, people would have some idea of how much sugar is in a serving of the product.  If the sugar listed on the nutrition label of yogurt was 8.5 teaspoons or 2.75 tablespoons would you have an image of this amount?  Would you still consider this product healthy?  What about a can of soda with 42 grams of sugar in 12 ounces (10.5 teaspoons or 3.5 tablespoons) or juice with 24 grams(6 teaspoons, or 2 tablespoons) in 6 ounces?

 Secondly, manufacturers are not required to list how much sugar is added sugar versus naturally occurring sugar. A portion of the sugar in yogurt is naturally occurring as milk has a naturally occurring sugar called lactose.  Six ounces of plain yogurt has 12-16 grams of sugar, all naturally occurring.  So if a flavored yogurt has 31 grams, the difference (15 grams) is added sugar.  Added sugar is in many processed foods, not just dessert foods. You will find them in other foods such as tomato sauce, salad dressing, frozen meals, bread and canned soups, to name just a few. 

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.

Avoiding Childhood Obesity in 3 Steps

The March issue of Pediatrics had an article entitled  “Household Routines and Obesity in U.S. Preschool-Aged Children”  It stated that “Preschool children exposed to three household routines — regularly eating family meals, getting adequate sleep, and limiting screen-viewing time — had a roughly 40 percent lower prevalence of obesity than those exposed to none of these routines.”  Notice the word “routines”.  This infers that these practices are a regular part of your daily pattern of life. 

Becoming a parent means purposely deciding which actions and reactions you will weave into your life style in order to support the growth and development of your child.  Once established, you have routines, habits and custom that support your intent to parent . 

Obesity is an issue that we are all aware of.  It’s cause if multi-factorial.  There are many sources working against you; media, marketing, and entertainment.  Visual and audio cues are everywhere.  You can choose to fight.  Choosing three routines can lessen the chance of your child becoming obese by 60%.

  • Have family meals
  • No screen time for children under 2, 1 hour /day for children under age 5
  • Support and respect your child’s need for adequate sleep.

In addition to decreasing the chance of obesity, there are other benefits.  If you embrace these routines you won’t have to decide on a daily basis if your child can watch TV or other screens.  You don’t have to wonder who will be available for dinner.  You will automatically schedule activities that end before bedtimes.  These become the natural customs and habits of your family.

Helping Your Child Maintain a Normal Weight

 Here it is, nice and simple:

Biggest Indicators for Weight Maintenance

·         No solids before 4 months

·         Breastfed, then family meals

·         Enough sleep

4-12 months: 14-16 hours/day

1-3 years: 12-14 hours/day

3-6 years: 10-12 hours/day 

·         No TV before age 2, limited TV after

“Preschool children exposed to three household routines — regularly eating family meals, getting adequate sleep, and limiting screen-viewing time — had a roughly 40 percent lower prevalence of obesity than those exposed to none of these routines. The study, “Household Routines and Obesity in U.S. Preschool-Aged Children,” published in the March issue of Pediatrics

·         Very limited sugar beverages

Decrease or Eliminate:

Juice

Soda

Sweetened teas, sports or vitamin drinks

·          Limited sugar–added foods

“High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars — it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose — but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.”  News at Princeton

·         Maternal restrictive eating practices

The more a parent interfers, the less the child follows their own internal cues for hunger and satiety.

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.

School Potlucks

Fried Chicken, more fried chicken, pizza, fried chicken, fried chicken and more fried chicken. That’s what entrees were available at the potluck for my child’s class last week. I know people are busy and don’t have time or want to cook. I know that store bought or take out is more convenient and I have no problem with this. But I also know that there are plenty of store bought and take out opportunities that are a lot healthier than fried chicken.

If asked to donate books to the school, I doubt that these parents would choose poorly written stories or books portraying anti-social or illegal activities as desirable outcomes. They want the best for their children (this was a potluck at a private school)and will complain if they believe their child is not getting the best available. So why do they choose fried chicken?

I wonder what these parents are thinking when they purchased all of this chicken. I don’t know all of these parents well, but as a group they are educated and upper middle class or above. It never ceases to surprise me that when we try to provide the best for our children, nutrition is often over looked.

These parents want the school to provide positive role models for their children. They want the best teachers, the most current technology, plus theatre, sports, dance, art, foreign language, advanced placement classes, international studies and travel opportunities, and healthy food at the cafeteria. They want recycling, volunteering opportunities,and college ready young adults at graduation. I am all for this, but I also see that I have a role to play as well. It is my job to model appropriate food choices by providing nourishing food. I know potlucks are parties and are for fun–but let’s also remember that we are always influencing our kids, even through our food choices.