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Division of Responsibility - Raising Healthy Eaters

Posted: Jun 19, 2015

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Division of Responsibility - Raising Healthy Eaters

Are mealtimes often a struggle in your household? Do you have a picky eater who refuses to try new food? Do you think your child eats too much or too little food for what she needs?

Children often go through phases where they are less open to trying foods that aren’t familiar to them. Some children will need to taste a food up to 20 times before they will eat it!

Understanding the different feeding responsibilities for parents and for children is the first step in helping your child accept a variety of different foods, in the right amounts for them, at meal and snack time.

The division of responsibility

The parent decides:

  • What foods to offer
  • When to offer meals and snacks
  • Where the child will eat

The child decides:

  • Whether to eat (you can employ the “one bite to be polite” rule for certain foods not touched, but be gentle)
  • How much food to eat from what is provided

Children have a natural ability to know how much they should eat. It is normal for children to vary how much they eat day to day, depending on their growth. Mealtime stress is reduced when parents trust their children to regulate their own food intake. This also gives the child some independence and helps them learn to recognize their internal signs of hunger and fullness.

Other tips to help children establish good eating habits:

  • Have regular, scheduled meal and snack times
  • Offer a variety of healthy foods to your child (and eat them yourself!) including; lean meats and vegetarian sources of protein (i.e. beans, lentils, eggs etc) , vegetables and fruit, and whole grains.
  • Eat with your child and role model healthy eating behaviours that you want to pass on to them
  • Don’t pressure your child to eat more or less food than they want.
  • Involve your child in meal planning and preparation.
  • Limit distractions during meal and snack time like television and games.

Emily Spencer, RD