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I believe I first heard about Ellyn Satter and her rules here..

The parent decides what to offer.
The child decides if and how much.

Did I get that right?

So question for you.

My kids are definitely carb-lovers. If I put pasta and veggies in front of them, they would choose 3 servings of pasta before any veggies. Same with toast, pizza, crackers, rice.

So I encourage them to eat a serving of protein or veggies or fruit (their choice of which kind) before multiple servings of carbs to have some balance in the meal.

Is that reasonable or is it too controlling? There are days they just munch on veggies, but if carbs are present they will always choose that first.

Am I projecting my own disordered eating on them? :p

What do you guys do? (I often put out veggies first with some dip.)

Pachouly
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I like Satter's ideas in theory but, as with most experts, in practice there are definitely kids that don't line up with them. My kids are some of them - I just didn't have the patience to try her methods. I broke the "don't force your kid to eat" rule far too often (and still do, sometimes). My kids have always had a hard time recognizing their own hunger cues and go from "fine" to "uncontrollable monster" in the blink of an eye if they get too hungry. (It reminds me of that scene in "Steel Magnolias" when Shelby has the insulin freak-out.)

Like you, I take the basis of her books and tweak it - I tend to give my kids veggies first (sometimes mixed with the protein, if that works) and then the starch. We almost always have fruit (sometimes with plain yogurt) after dinner. Very rarely a true dessert follows.

I got the veggies-first idea from 2gifts (IIRC) who said she used to have cut up veggies out for her kids to eat while she cooked dinner. If we're going to be in the car close to dinner time (especially when I think we'll be crunched for dinner/bedtime), I'll have something on-the-go for them (carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers) to eat in the car. Then, we can have the protein/starch at home.

I'm slowly giving them more autonomy with their food choices - offering foods all at once to see how they do. At school, that's how it is at lunch. Hobbes (almost 9) is pretty great at choosing and eating a variety at almost every meal; Tigger (almost 6) not so much...though he does *eventually* eat a good mix over the course of a day or two.

Tigger goes through stages of only eating, say, his sandwich and fruit, leaving behind the veggies. (The ones he asked me to pack for him.) When that happens, I tell him that, if he's not that hungry at lunch, he doesn't need fruit and stop sending it. (He usually eats the lunch leftovers in the car as a snack; if not, then it's offered at dinner.) Then, when he eats his lunch consistently for a few days, I'll add in fruit again.

It's definitely a(nother) work in progress.
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http://itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace.com/home/ has good stuff about this.

Offer fruits and veggies with every meal and snack.

The rule we have been using in our house is some of everything before more of anything. So a small serving of everything first, then seconds have to be asked for.

- Megan
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My kids have always had a hard time recognizing their own hunger cues and go from "fine" to "uncontrollable monster" in the blink of an eye if they get too hungry. (It reminds me of that scene in "Steel Magnolias" when Shelby has the insulin freak-out.)

We call that having the Hangry gene in my wife's family. Séamus does not have it, we think Ellie may. Séamus is freakishly stubborn when it comes to food, and tends to eat like I do. He forgets to eat for a day or two and then eats a huge amount of food. When he isn't hungry good luck getting him to eat.

The wife's nephew gets pretty bad when his blood sugar goes low. He is better at eating now, but we used to have to remember how long it was since he ate or, well, he would get a wee bit tetchy. Can't blame him when he forgets, he is 4, and my beautiful wife forgets too and gets tetchy.

No clue how my brother's kids are. He is a stricked food enforcer. You will eat all the food that is in front of you. It never goes well when he pulls it on Séamus. Sometimes I jump in. One time he was demanding that Séamus eat a bit of the chicken before he would give him another olive. "Dude, he isn't asking for a piece of candy, he is asking for an olive. Give him the darn olive"

Séamus is coming out of his pickey phase. He still eats stilton and olives but will not eat beef. Ellie eats veggies, and no dairy.

Pachouly.
Hard to say. Do what you feel is right.
I have yet to meet a parent who isn't projecting some form of nuttiness upon their kids. I know I am. It is part of parenting, as long as you do it with love it will all work out.

Ford
Could be worse. I knew a family who was into alt medicine growing up, they had a high colonic every week.
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I am trying to think back, I know there were vegetables mixed in quite often
(example; frozen peas throw into hot rice to cool it down quickly)
and many snacks were of the crunchy fruit/veg variety, but I also recall what seemed like years of (both kids) eating exclusively from the beige food group.
potatoes/pasta/bread/pancake/waffles/chips/fries/rice/oatmeal

While they never refused vegetables, they definitely preferred carbs.
when young the elf would sometimes look at a colorful plate of food, Pad Thai for example, declare it Too Interesting and just eat the noodles or rice accompanying it...
They grew, the phase ended (but may restart for boys in the early teen years- you've been warned) and all seems well.

I think if they are snacking on veggies and will have "some" then you are probably ok. Which is way easier for me to say about your kids than mine, and i could probably find a post about me worrying about the same thing 10 years ago.

peace & this too shall pass
t
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So I encourage them to eat a serving of protein or veggies or fruit (their choice of which kind) before multiple servings of carbs to have some balance in the meal.

I control some of this by the carbs I serve.

Want toast? Fine, the Fiber One whole wheat bread is 5 grams of protein per slice. Pasta? The Barilla Plus pasta has 10 grams of protein per two ounce serving.

And I genuinely believe that a bowl of Raisin Bran with skim milk is a lot more balanced meal than many others out there.

I also go with the "you need to have some of X before you have MORE of Y."

That is, if they have already had a bowl of cereal, have an apple. Then you can have more of the cereal.

As for controlling, the answer is: someone has to be controlling at some point. They need to learn healthy eating habits. I've heard much worse ways of approaching it than yours.

GSF
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I also go with the "you need to have some of X before you have MORE of Y."

Ah yes, good point. I do this too: let's say we are having spaghetti with a side of broccoli or salad.

I have them eat their salad while I'm finishing up the spaghetti (so veggies first). If broccoli is the side, it goes on the plate damn near half/half with the spaghetti

Then if they finish their spaghetti and broccoli (or spaghetti, if we had salad first), they have to have more OF BOTH for seconds. Same division on the plate - half/half veggie plus Carbs O Plenty.

If meat + carb + veggie is the dinner, then firsts is 1/3s all the way around, seconds is either 1/3s or half/half with one half being veggie.

Thirds is open to whatever, including something they dig out of the fridge. I figure at that point I've fed them past the point of starving, and thirds is just style points.

impolite
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Thirds is open to whatever, including something they dig out of the fridge. I figure at that point I've fed them past the point of starving, and thirds is just style points.


I know not of these thirds you speak of.
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Never heard of her until now. (Does that mean I am a bad parent?)
If you agree with her method use it, if you don't do your own thing. Of course we impose our bias' on our children, it's impossible not to. My in laws eat soft eggs for breakfast. I can't even look at them. I just think salmonella. When my children stay there, they always offer them those horrible eggs. If I am around, I hardboil the eggs or fry the hell out of them. If I'm not around, then so be it. The in laws have all survived, I'm sure my kids will to eating a half cooked egg.

My personal take is this:
I cant stand to see food wasted. 99% of the food that comes in to this house gets eaten. If I buy something spoiled from the supermarket, I bring it back and ask for a refund.

Anyway, I put food on my kids plate and I expect them to finish every single piece of it. They eat a vegetable for lunch and dinner along with the protein and carb. Breakfast they get fruit in lieu of vegetable. And they almost never fight me on it. They just eat whats given and they dont leave the table until they do. I try to introduce a new food every week or so. #1 is a fantastic eater and will eat whatever I give him. At times, hes finished what Ive given him only to tell me later, he really didn't like it. #2 is horrifically picky. He will whine, scream, and pout if he has to try something new - no matter what it is. He would even cry if it was a different flavor of ice cream than he has tried previously. So I just give him just a little of the something new just to have a taste. #1 will sometimes ask for seconds, which he gets once he's eaten everything first. #2 almost never asks for seconds.

My nanny is like you and Satter. She just puts the food in front of her daughter and allows her to decide what and if she will eat. It's a healthy choice of items, but I don't think I could do it. I need to see that empty plate.
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Anyway, I put food on my kids plate and I expect them to finish every single piece of it.

It's a great way to set up food issues for life but you can feel like you won something.

I need to see that empty plate.

Then you should do the eating.
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It's a great way to set up food issues for life but you can feel like you won something.

It can also be a great way to have the kids to some inventive thinking.

Mum never noticed all the peas in the light fixture. Hiding the awful food can be fun and amusing for a young one.

Ford
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Anyway, I put food on my kids plate and I expect them to finish every single piece of it.

I tried out-stubborning my daughter about mixed vegetables once. After she got so upset she vomited at the table, I realized it's not a war worth waging.
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It can also be a great way to have the kids to some inventive thinking.

Mum never noticed all the peas in the light fixture. Hiding the awful food can be fun and amusing for a young one.
*************************************
I can remember when I was about 5 or 6, Mom served something that I hated. Loathed. I ate the side dish right up but refused to touch the main course. She made me sit there until I finished it. I sat there for over 3 hours, surrepitiously giving the dog bits of it.

Ugh.
Kristi
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Anyway, I put food on my kids plate and I expect them to finish every single piece of it. They eat a vegetable for lunch and dinner along with the protein and carb. Breakfast they get fruit in lieu of vegetable. And they almost never fight me on it. They just eat whats given and they dont leave the table until they do.

I realize that I am in the minority as my kids pretty much just ate anything and everything, although DD was a bit pickier than DS who would eat rocks on a plate, but I don't recall having these sorts of battles with my kids.

DH also comes from a family where most of his siblings and his parents were heavy, and so I have been very conscious of not wanting to create an environment that taught the kids to eat whether or not they were hungry.

In our house, the kids could choose what they wanted to eat and how much because I didn't think I could possibly know how hungry someone was. They had to taste everything on the table, but they didn't have to eat it. I just made sure that there was always at least one thing on the table that I knew they'd like. I never dictated that they had to eat any amount of any particular type of food, and let them decide that. I wanted my kids to be able to make good choices, and so I thought that giving them things to choose that I had already pre-screened as acceptable choices to me was a good way for them to learn, and that included food.

I used to let my kids help with the grocery shopping by choosing the fruits and veggies for the week, the flavors of yogurt, and if we got roast beef or turkey at the deli. But notice that I had already decided we needed fresh produce, yogurt, and cold cuts, so they were just picking which ones.

They helped with meal planning on the way home from day care, and I'd tell them what we had for meat, what we had for starch, and what we had for veggie, and they'd discuss and decide between them so that by the time we got home, we knew what was for dinner.

In this way, they learned that you needed one thing from each category to build a healthy meal.

When they made their plates at dinner, I always encouraged them to take small portions, and then go back for seconds, thirds or fourths (yes, I have a kid who would go back for fourths). It was sort of a take-what-you'll-eat and eat-what-you-take approach, but not something that was enforced.

I also have one child that eats what is probably a normal amount, and then there's the other one who just eats, so I also knew that I didn't have a good yardstick to understand what might be considered a normal portion.
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Thanks, everyone! Sometimes I just need a common-sense view of parenting!

I'll keep doing what I'm doing, which is if they want extra servings of carbs, protein they do need to eat some veggie (and I always offer something they do like).

pachouly
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I don't win, but the kids and the planet do. They learn that it is completely wasteful, irresponsible, and not planet friendly to throw away food. They will as I do, prepare just enough food that can b eaten, learn to eat leftovers if need be, and use the food they have in the fridge to prepare meals rather than let it spoil.
I pack their lunches because in school, they fill the kids plates for them and then encourage them to throw out what is left behind. The casual way the kids toss the uneaten food into the trash is sickening. 40% of the food that is grown ultimately ends u in the garbage.

I'm not saying I don't agree with Ms. Satter. I think she makes a good point, but once the food hits the plate, ( kids or parent choice), it gets eaten. No excuses.
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...40% of the food that is grown ultimately ends up in the garbage...

I agree that this is appallingly wasteful. However, once I've eaten what I need, the rest, if I continue eating, ends up either in the toilet (one way or the other) or as extra pounds, which IMO is worse than if it had gone straight into the garbage.

YG
fan of small portions and leftovers
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I'm not saying I don't agree with Ms. Satter. I think she makes a good point, but once the food hits the plate, ( kids or parent choice), it gets eaten. No excuses.

I feel sorry for your kids.
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I don't win, but the kids and the planet do. They learn that it is completely wasteful, irresponsible, and not planet friendly to throw away food.

So all of this is environmental in nature? Your discussion is that it's bad for the environment to waste food? Is the rest of your child-rearing consistent with this guideline?

Just wondering. Thinking about previous discussions that have taken place on cloth-vs-disposable diapers, etc.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the ultimatum. Having been on the receiving end of one-too-many disgusting food choices made by my own parents, I'm far more likely to allow the kids to throw food out than I am to sit there and start a battle of wills over something that eventually will lead them to rebel in their own ways, either as older children or later in life (as I did).

I also pack my children's lunches, but that's primarily because my older one does not like the cafeteria food and my younger one prefers home lunches, though the younger one pays attention to the school menu and will come home and ask to buy the next day if the choice is one he enjoys, something I am happy to allow if he's taking the time to pay attention and ask ahead of time (before lunch is made for the next day).

No excuses.

This where I part company with you. I'm not a big fan of the WILL NOT BE BALKED mentality, and while I'm sure there's still a big school of thought that says "That's how I was raised and I'm not like this generation of little brats!!!" I find that those kinds of rules inevitably end up causing more difficulties than they solve.

Similar to the "There are children starving in Ethiopia!" lectures that many were on the receiving end of... my eating certainly didn't provide them with any additional nutrition. So it is with throwing food away... I don't need to draw a red line that shall not be crossed, as if my not ever throwing food away is going to be the single tipping point that brings us back.

Thinking about food in a good and healthy way, yes. But I never learned anything from a "no excuses" mentality except to resent the lesson they were trying to teach.

GSF
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One thing I found helpful with new foods. The rule was they had to try it. They could take a bite from my plate and if they liked it, I would put a small amount on theirs.

I too hate wasting food. It's just as wasteful to force someone to eat something they loathe. If they didn't like it, at least they tried it and can fix themselves (I am not a short-order cook) a sandwich or eat more of the meal that they prefer.

I'm not willing to fight that battle. Don't want my kids to have food issues like I do.
Kristi
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I need to see that empty plate.

SO did my mother. My sibs and I all ended up with overeating issues. I still need to see that empty plate :-(

I was relaxed with my kids. DD didn't like meat in the early years, so I tucked extra protein into everything…ground peanut powder into hot cereal, dry milk powder into custard, eggs into soup, cottage cheese if she didn't like the dinner protein. Luckily she loved beans--her favorite snack is still chick peas.

Both of my kids, now 30somethings, eat healthy and are normal (DD, nursing) and slender (DS).
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My grandson is autistic. If you demand he taste something he doesn't want, or even encourage too much, you're asking for a meltdown.

He used to eat a wide variety of everything in his ones when he was being fed...tofu & napa soup with soba noodles and lots of garlic, and whatever his parents were eating, he wanted some off the plate. But it devolved in his 3rd year.

Now at 3, he eats mainly carbs (but no pasta) and dairy. He might taste a little broth, but not if he can see bits of anything in it. Not as fond of sweets as most kids--never asks for them. DD rarely gives juice, and when she does, it's watered down like 2:1 in favor of water, so he seems not to have developed a sweet tooth. He loves breads, cheese, oatmeal, bananas, and plain Greek yogurt, and will eat cheerios, milk, peanut butter, cream cheese, crackers, grapes, veggie burgers and fish sticks, and diluted juice. That's about it these days. (I guess it could be worse--I know a kid who only eats spaghettios-)

This is so different from my kids, who ate virtually everything, except DD's meat antagonism when she was young (I think it was mainly a texture issue). But my SIL was apparently a picky eater. Even when DD met him, he would eat few vegetables and salads, and only if covered with cheese. Maybe it's genetic.
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I feel sorry for your kids.

Don't. I am an excellent cook. As told to me spontaneously my son#1 the other day.

Plus, they are very happy and very loved. My son often tells my husband and I, that "he loves his family." It's super sweet.
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I think I am lucky. I've seen families that battle at mealtime, and I've seen families whose kids refuse to eat anything except chicken mgnuggets. My kids don't give me much trouble with food. They just eat whats on their plate. Son#2 is very picky and sometimes I cant be bothered to make something separate for him, so I will put a small amount of whatever we are all eating on his plate. He fusses at times which requires coercion, but most times he eats it while making these ridiculous I'm suffering faces. But he finishes it.I don't torture him with a huge serving, I load up on things he likes and just put a little of what I know he's not fond of, like fish. But this is a rare scenario. My biggest issue is that they are more interested in playing than eating. So I often have to remind them to eat. But I am not so disciplined about the no toys at the table rule. My nieces and nephews would never bring a toy to the table but my kids are constantly sneaking them to the table. Sometimes I find them giggling instead of eating and I have to redirect them. But it is what it is. Parenting is not easy and its all about choosing your battles.

Both my husband and I are healthy and thin. We have no food issues, except...
my sweet tooth. My mother never ever bought junk food. No pop, no chips, no sweets. My parents never ate them and neither did we. We also most never ate out. I discovered sweets at school and now that I am on my own, I eat a small piece of chocolate daily. But at the same time I eat at least 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies/day. So I know my kids will ultimately make their own choices but my goals is to instill in them 1) to eat healthy, and 2) not to waste. And based on my upbringing I think it will work. If my parents hadn't taught me to eat healthy and embrace fish and vegetables, I would probably be morbidly obese right now.
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