This weekend I had an awesome opportunity to catch up with some old friends. Of course part, okay, maybe most of our catching up included talking about our children. One topic that always surrounds me and I’m guessing because I love to talk about it is nutrition and feeding our children.
The one common denominator is WHO teaches us HOW to feed our children? Well thankfully the good Lord blessed me with a nutrition degree and the AWESOME opportunity to train directly with Ellyn Satter (in my opinion the pioneer teacher of properly feeding our children). This definitely gives me the full head advantage over other parents!
So one topic that is near and dear to my heart it rewarding with food. So WHAT is the BIG DEAL?
Well here is something to think about? Your child won’t eat dinner, they keep saying they are not hungry. You keep repeating if you don’t eat dinner you can’t have dessert. In the child’s head they think, “Man, I really am not hungry, but I sure do love cookies. I guess I’ll force down this food to get to those cookies.” What did this do? This interfered with a child’s ability to self regulate their eating…they stuffed themselves just to get to those good tasting cookies. So in laymen’s terms it taught your child to OVEREAT. What did this accomplish?
Take this scenario…A child is misbehaving in a public place. If you don’t stop doing (insert misbehavior here) you are NOT getting ice cream -or- if you do “so and so” I’ll get you ice cream. Both of these techniques teach a child food is a reward and/or a punishment. In either case this associates feelings with food. It may be a positive association with food or it could be a negative association with food. What will this effect in the future…EMOTIONAL EATING! Oh boy that is a big one. I’ve said it so many times in my career…it’s the hardest issue to fix when you are an adult so why would you set your children up for emotional eating so young?
And last, but certainly not least…anytime you make food, especially dessert special it glorifies the food. It’s important that children learn to grow up and enjoy food for sure, but not “abuse” any one food like dessert. If you are always making food or dessert a reward it makes it “special” not just another thing they learn to grow up and enjoy. How do you unglorify dessert…serve it for breakfast! Before you think I’ve flown over the cuckoos nest, I’m not saying serve it everyday in unlimited quantities. Here’s how you do it:
1. Get out ice cream for breakfast, serve each person at the table a bowl of ice cream
2. Serve other balanced, good tasting food with it (example:fruit, toast and eggs).
3. Allow your children to pick and choose from what’s at the table. Allow them to eat the food in any order!!! (Yes of course they are going to eat the ice cream first)!!
4. Once they finish their one bowl of ice cream, if they are still hungry they can pick and choose from the other food at the table.
5. Enjoy watching your children ENJOY the food!
So break the cycle of EMOTIONAL EATING!