Food Talk… Kid’s Edition: Part Deux

Food Talk… Kid’s Edition: Part Deux

Holla. So now that we’ve revamped our language, let’s get down to adjusting our “feeding style” with our children. Research now shows that our feelings and relationship with food coupled with our feeding style can influence not only our child’s relationship with food but also their body weight (hashtag concrete evidence).

So what is a feeding style anyway? Well, our feeding style is usually a lot like our parenting style. Are you laid back, more strict, or somewhere in between? In regards to feeding style, there’s one style, in particular, that is associated with healthy children and adolescents and that is called the “authoritative feeding style.” This style offers a child some structure, while still taking their preferences into consideration; moreover, it’s giving them limits, but also allowing them some say in what they’re eating.

Our goal is to stay in control while giving our children the freedom to choose. What in the actual heck does that mean?

Here are some examples of how to achieve this:

  • Allow them to choose. Ask your child if they’d like carrots or green beans for dinner. As a parent, you are providing healthy options while your child still feels he or she can make the decision theirs.
  • Include your child in the meal selection or prep. I am really trying to get my son interested in vegetables, so I bring him to

    Involvement=Excitement (I promise they were more excited than they look in this photo LOL)

    the store with me and I let him walk around the produce section and pick the vegetable he likes for dinner. This has been huge for us! Also, let your child help in the kitchen when you get home, whether it be just putting together a salad, making your own pizzas, or simply letting them mix ingredients for you or setting a kitchen timer. Anything that involves them will excite them.

  • Let them decide how much they can eat. You can plate their food for them but allow and encourage them to listen to their bodies for hunger and satiety cues. Do not encourage “cleaning your plate.” If you are worried that your child does not eat enough, just look at their growth chart from their pediatrician. If they’re maintaining a predictable pattern, they’re good.
  • Plan meals and have a set of eating and snacking time. This provides structure and helps them develop routines that show them what their meals should look like.
  • Don’t fear foods. This goes back to our last blog on food labeling and shaming. If your child has a generally healthy diet and is “fueling” as they should, the “fun” foods are not off limits.

In general, try not to over-control, over-educate, or get into a lecturing pattern because that could lead to children going in the opposite direction of what you’re promoting. Lastly, be a role model! Show your kids what healthy behavior is and lead them by example… pretty sure you have that one covered.  😉

Enjoy the rest of the week!

MK O’Leary, RD, LDN