Are you sick of yelling at your your child to eat his veggies? It turns out that how you feed your children is just as important as what you feed them when it comes to preventing obesity and promoting healthy eating patterns.
“The feeding dynamic between caregivers and their toddlers as a factor in childhood obesity is truly underestimated,” said Ihuoma Eneli, MD, medical director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We’re finding that if mealtime becomes a battleground or filled with tension, it could establish a relationship with food that leads kids to unhealthy eating behaviors later.”
If you’re worried about your child’s eating, nagging, yelling, and manipulating is a bad idea. In a healthy feeding dynamic, you choose how, when, where, and what your children eat, without being excessively restrictive and controlling. Assuming your kids follow the general rules, they are allowed to choose how much and what to eat, but can decide not to eat as well.
Experts say this gives children a sense of independence. It also teaches them what it feels like to be full – something that can get hijacked if parents force kids to eat certain amounts of foods.
Other tips for healthy eating include:
- Only serve food in the kitchen. Make it a house rule that nobody eats in front of the TV or in their bedrooms.
- Let your child choose snack time. This is a simple way to give your child control over his or her diet.
- Take dessert off its pedestal. Dessert shouldn’t be a reward for eating your vegetables. If you serve a cookie, makes it a small part of the regular meal even if your child gobbles it down first.
- Serve smaller portions of everything. Offering an assortment of foods with the option for seconds on a favorite gives kids a sense of control.
- Pick your battles. Make an effort to always serve at least one nutritious thing you know your child will eat. Even if your child refuses to eat anything else, you’ve at least won one small battle.