This has come up twice today so I thought it may be a good time to post about how I feed Lu.
Well I voraciously read it and I have to say that I almost completely agree with her viewpoint on feeding children.
I mentioned this quote before but I think it bears repeating:
"You can’t control or dictate the quantity of food your child eats, and you shouldn’t try. You also can’t control or dictate the kind of body your child develops, and you shouldn’t try. What you can do, and it is a great deal, is set things up for your child so she, herself, can regulate her food intake as well as possible, and so she can develop a healthy body that is constitutionally right for her."
The book also helped me to understand why I have some of the food issues that I have. It was a wonderful “a-ha” moment. It was originally written in 1978 and revised in 2000 so it is quite current but it also touches on some of the beliefs around nutrition from my childhood. The author is a nutritionist and a psychologist and most of her beliefs are backed up by studies. It’s a wonderful read and I recommend it to everyone! I think it would be interesting to read even if you didn’t have kids but maybe I’m a bit weird (well I KNOW I’m a bit weird).
MANY people have commented about the variety of food Lu eats and what she’ll actually eat. She is only 17 month old (almost 18-*gulp*) but I think that her “mature palate” has to do with the way we’ve fed her. I hope that she continues to be adventurous with food and we don’t go down the route of PB&J at every meal.
Here’s what we do:
-First it started with introducing her to solids. I made sure to give her all sorts of different homemade baby foods (it doesn’t need to be homemade-I just really enjoyed making it). I didn’t let my preferences dictate what I gave her. I HATE papaya but I tried it with Lu and she LOVED it. I used Wholesome Baby Foods to guide me on what to give her at the different stages and I adhered (pretty strictly) to the 1 new food every 3 days rule. It helps rule out any allergies.
-Once she hit about a year (maybe a bit earlier) she started getting what we ate. I would cut it up in kid appropriate sizes but she mainly ate what we were eating. At this point the only thing she wasn’t eating was shellfish and peanut butter so everything else was fair game.
-If she asks for something that I’m eating, even if I think she’ll hate it, I let her have some. Except raw sushi and alcohol (or anything else potentially dangerous). You wouldn’t believe some of the things she loves! Beet juice anyone?
-Very importantly we sit down for dinner as a family every night. Very rarely do we not eat together as a family. It makes for a hectic time after work but I feel very strongly that she should eat with us and that we should all sit down together. On the weekends we eat breakfast (usually) as a family but not lunch. Lu eats lunch at 11 and naps at 12-which is a bit early for us. Sometimes I eat a snack while she’s eating lunch.
-She gets food at a predictable time and at predictable intervals. Breakfast is around 8, snack at 9:30, lunch at 11, snack at 2:30 and 5, dinner at 6:30. Daycare helped to establish this schedule but it is important. She shouldn’t ever feel like she doesn’t know when the next meal (or mini meal) is coming.
-She always has free access to water but milk is only given at meal times and at some snacks. You don’t want the kiddos to fill up on milk and then not eat solids. We normally don’t do juice but if we did, it would only be given with meals.
-I feed her wholesome, healthy, and good tasting meals that are high in (good) fats. She needs it for brain growth. A lot of time I add butter, olive oil, or avocado to her meals in order to bulk them up.
-Additionally, she very rarely gets processed food BUT I don’t make it taboo either. I give her “bad foods” on occasion and don’t make a big deal about it. Ellyn Satter actually recommends giving your kid a plate of cookies and milk for a snack every once in awhile (NOT everyday) that way things aren’t looked at as “treats” but more just as food. I tried this with Lu with Oreos-she hated them. She does like other cookies though!
-On the treat note, she recommends giving your child dessert with dinner. She doesn’t get treats every night but when I think of it she gets her treats with dinner or none at all. Amazingly she’ll take a bite of cookie and then eat broccoli. She did that last night. This way she decides when she’s full. The theory is that if you offer kids cookies at the end of a meal, they may already be full but will eat it because it’s a treat which teaches them to eat past their fullness. She gets more of everything on her plate (if she asks for it) EXCEPT the dessert-that is a set amount. The first night we did this she asked for more but I explained that that was it and she got mad and then kinda shrugged and ate other stuff on her plate. She also now leave cookies uneaten on her plate when she’s full
-I don’t make “kid food”. Sometimes I alter things slightly but by and large she eats what we eat. I make sure to have something on her plate that I know she’ll eat-bread, crackers, pasta, rice but it’s up to her to decide what she wants and what she doesn’t want. Her plate always has protein, veggies, carbs, and healthy fat on it. It’s her choice to eat what’s on her plate.
-She gets as much or as little food as she wants (except for the aforementioned “dessert” with dinner). This even holds true for cookies at snack, the bread at dinner and so on. If she wants more and she’s sitting in her high chair or at her table-I give it to her.
-We try not to let her roam with food. We try to get her to eat it at the table or at her high chair. Sometimes snacks turn into roaming but breakfast, lunch, and dinner are eaten at the table.
-If she doesn’t eat what we’ve offered and wants down from the table we let her down. She doesn’t get anymore food until at least an hour has passed unless she wants to come back up to the table and eat what we’ve offered.
-I talk to her about all of this. I tell her that it’s okay if she doesn’t want something but she will not be getting anything else for at least an hour. Sometimes she reconsiders. 😉
-I try not to make a big deal about what she is or isn’t eating. Sometimes this is hard though 😉
I *think* that’s it. Do I always follow these rules 100%? Nope but I sure try! Is this the only way? Nope but it’s working for me. Could she become one of those kids who will only eat one thing and one thing only? Maybe but I sure hope not!