When it comes to feeding my girls I try to use Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility philosophy. As parents we decide what, where and when food will be served. Kids decide what and how much to eat. I try to teach my kids about the benefits of eating whole foods most of time. Like many things in life, healthy eating is a learned behaviour. I have a nutrition wish list for my girls.
1). Willing to try new food
As a mother and a dietitian I am aware of the importance of introducing a wide variety of foods from the start. Infants are curious and will usually try most foods up to the age of two. During these curious stages of eating try to offer a wide variety of flavours and textures. As a mother, I am aware that kids palates change as do their eating behaviours. Toddlers are scared of new foods, remember it can take 20 times before your child will accept it. Continue to offer new foods with favourite foods. I never tried avocados until I met my husband, pretty embarrassing, my initial response was I don’t like avocados. I am proud to say avocados are a regular food on the weekly meal plan.
2). Understands where food comes from and appreciates it
Now I don’t mean taking them to the grocery store to do grocery shopping. Actually, I rarely take my kids to the grocery store. I prefer to go alone with my weekly grocery list and meal plan and avoid making multiple trips because I was entertaining a toddler and a baby. But, I love bringing the kids to the farmers market on Saturday mornings. Its great opportunity for them to sample new foods, meet farmers, and enjoy live entertainment. I also like to get them involved in the preparation of food. Miss E and I will typically make pancakes together on the weekends. Another great way is to start a vegetable garden and encourage them to help take care of the plants.
3). Enjoy family meals
I grew up having family meals most nights and so far we have been able to do the same. My kids are still young and I don’t have to worry about after school activities yet. Now our family meals are not always enjoyable, sometimes we feel like we are constantly asking Miss E to eat her dinner but we are making progress. A successful family dinner to me is when everyone leaves the table with a full belly and are able to share a few laughs.
4). Enjoys healthy food
Enjoying healthy food and choosing to eat heathy is at the top of my nutrition wish list for my daughters. I believe if you enjoy eating healthy you will also appreciate where your food comes from, are mindful, and are willing to try new foods. There are many factors that influence healthy eating habits. During the first 5 years parents play a key role. I try to follow Ellen Satter’s division of responsibility, be a good role model, and try to get them involved in the kitchen. Green salads make a regular appearance on the dinner table, for the girls I deconstruct their salad and leave the greens out. Recently, my older daughter started requesting green salads on her plate.
5). Learns to be mindful
Listening to your satiety cues is a learned behaviour. As parents, it’s difficult to have your little one say they are full when they barley touched their dinner. I am guilty of asking for one more bite but I am trying to say ok, if your full your full. In addition, to being in tune with their satiety cues I hope my daughters learn how to be mindful of their food choices and make healthier choices.
I know my girls eating behaviours will change and sometimes be stressful but my hope is that I raised healthy eaters who are adventrous and mindful.