Over the past year, I have taken great pride in putting meals on the table and watching my little one develop into a competent eater. Supporting a competent eater for me has consisted of planning balanced meals and giving a consistent feeding message. I know first hand that it’s not always easy…and this is coming from someone who has over 10 years of experience teaching parents how to feed their families!! I can’t stress enough the power of CONSISTENCY!
Recently, on Facebook I was asked what exactly should be served on the family table and that’s what I’d like to address today!
When planning meals for your whole family the number one piece of advice I can give you is to maintain consistency of structured meals and snacks. Children AND adults will do best when they come to the table hungry and feel fully supported in their eating. When serving the main meals of the day breakfast, lunch and dinner I recommend to serve 4-5 different foods. By including a variety of food on the table your children can pick and choose from what is served and feel fully supported in their eating.
Now don’t confuse this with being a short order cook, I’m not suggesting that you serve 4-5 different foods your children request. After all, it is your job as the parent to decide WHAT to serve on the table. By serving a variety of food your child can learn to sneak up on new food and fill up on food they enjoy. When serving these foods, I wholeheartedly recommend you serve them family style on the table so children can pick and choose. Now, what to serve:
2. Fruit and/or Vegetable
3. Protein (chicken, seafood, red meat, pork, cheese, peanut butter, beans, etc…)
4. Carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, quinoa, pasta, etc…)
5. Bread and butter (or whatever spread you enjoy)
Now, this doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think! Here are some examples:
1. Pork Tenderloin (protein), Mashed Potatoes (carbohydrate), broccoli (vegetable), milk and bread and butter
2. Bread (carbohydrate), Deli meat (protein), lettuce/tomato(vegetable), apples (fruit), butter, milk
3. Hard boiled eggs (protein), toast (carbohydrate), butter, jelly, orange juice(fruit), milk
4. Hamburger (protein), Buns, French Fries (carbohydrate), Lettuce/Tomato (vegetable), Milk, Butter
Don’t try to overcomplicate this process as most of us like to do! When I say SERVE them on the table that is exactly what I mean. It doesn’t mean you have to have waste or prepare things in a special way. Take a bowl of apples and put the whole bowl on the table. Put the entire gallon of milk on the table. Don’t dirty more dishes, put the whole pot of mashed potatoes on the table. Serving them just means you have the available on the table.
Once you have served the food, your job is done! Allow your children to decide HOW MUCH and WHAT they will eat from what you have served!
I’d love to hear what meals work best for you family?