My four-year-old making apple crumble at his preschool fall festival.
I recently hand fed my four-year-old, Jack, meatballs. He only eats meat in that form. I really wanted him to get the nutritional value of the meal which I had bolstered with flax and a nice parmesan.
In between his chatting and chewing, I would fork in a hefty bite. He chewed and chatted some more. I kept giving him more until, at one point, he put his hand out in front of him and said, "Mom, I think we need to spend some time alone."
My father happened to be at the other end of the table and laughed with an uproar.
I really didn't need to feed him, but I wanted him to get some iron, protein, etc. I felt a little nutty doing it at the time, but felt like it outweighed any inappropriateness.
"We need to spend some time alone."
Read it loud and clear, Buddy.
I put the fork down and moved on.
I came across this article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition about how we actually feed our kids. Not the what of how we feed them, but the how - the logistics of how you eat. Is there a set routine for meals? Do you eat together? Do you barter or coerce them into eating?
They don't mention spoon feeding kids like this wackadoodle did, but it's an interesting snapshot of how ritual and patterning affects kids' eating.
Here's the top 10 take aways republished on the Huff Post:
1. Pressuring kids to eat fruits and vegetables and markedly limiting their access to sweets and fatty snacks, along with using food as a reward are all strongly linked with disinhibited children's eating patterns.
2. The more inconsistent parents are with either eating schedules or serving healthy vs. unhealthy foods, the greater the negative impact of the parenting styles listed in the first point above.
3. Having at least one parent at the family meal is associated with better consumption of fruit and vegetables, and a lower risk of skipping breakfast.
4. Adopting a knee-jerk pattern of dietary restriction with an overweight child may drive that child to be more, not less, likely to overeat.
5. The availability and exposure to foods at home most certainly affects children's long-term food selections and preferences.
6. The earlier and more broadly a child is exposed to different foods, the healthier that child's eventual adult diet.
7. The more fruits and vegetables available at home the more fruits and vegetables your kids will consume.
8. The more fruit juice and breakfast bars available at home the less actual fruits and vegetables your kids will consume
9. The greater the frequency of meals in front of the television and/or the lesser the frequency of family meals, and/or the greater the use of food as a reward, the higher your kids' intake of sugar sweetened beverages.
10. "Children like what they know and eat what they like."
So to make sure your children know healthy, here are some straightforward prescriptions for healthy at-home eating:
Encourage a wide and varied healthy diet introducing new foods frequently and early.
Don't pressure your children to eat (one-bite rules are fine), or withhold dessert unless they eat their veggies.
Don't reward them with food.
Disband the "clean your plate" club.
Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables handy, accessible, visible, washed and prepared and literally smile at your kids when they eat them.
Sit at the table and eat with your kids.
Don't skip meals.
Dramatically minimize meals out and takeout.
Ensure that as many meals as possible a week involve the transformation of raw ingredients (not mixing boxes).
Involve your kids in cooking.
Don't jam a fork in their mouths even if it contains organic, grass-fed beef with flax and imported parm.