Our Family Feeding Epiphany

Many years ago, I created this blog to share the feeding trials of my infant daughter. She was so small in stature and it was a constant fight with pediatricians who thought she should weigh more, when I knew that she was perfectly healthy as she was. As time has passed (almost seven years!), her size remains consistent she is happy and is in great health.

What became an even greater struggle as a parent and dietitian was my son’s picky eating. In reality, he always was very strong willed regarding his food choices and we have worked very, very diligently throughout his ten years of life, since he started solids expanding his diet beyond grains, dairy and fruits. Over the course of his toddler years he began to enjoy animal proteins and the preschool years included the expansion of his consumption (note, not enjoyment) of various vegetables. All of this took much work, pressure and persistence on my husband and I to help get him to this point. So possibly we should be proud (?), in part we were. As he grew older and mealtime battles still continued too regularly for our tastes my patience began to wear thin.

Why did he refuse foods he previously enjoyed? Why could he only eat them a certain way? Why did he need them all separated? Why was this still a challenge??!!

The short answer is… we were wrong.

A fellow registered dietitian, a feeding guru one might say, from a far away land called Wisconsin showed me the light. The concepts of Ellyn Satter and her feeding Institute had been introduced to me over the years, at various conferences as great resources for child feeding. Her website https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org was the perfect starting ground for any person, parent or professional, who had questions and concerns about the feeding of children. So I began to immerse my self in her teachings, ordering every book, every guide, and let me tell you, it has been enlightening and life changing. Her most basic principle of feeding dynamics, the Satter Division of Responsibility in feeding is broken down to two basic rules. I (the parent) was responsible for when/where/what food to serve and AJ (the child) was responsible for choosing whether and how much to eat.

 

Starting with that point, our family embarked on a new dining journey, one with less rules, less emotion and gradually less stress. It was, is and probably will continue to be a challenge for myself to not micromanage my children’s’ meals. The first couple of days were kind of rough (one meal he only ate a plateful of peas!!). Sometimes I can’t help myself and stray from the rules a little to comment how our bodies need multiple food groups, not just protein and grains. But we are growing in this together, and within a couple of weeks, it was obvious that this was a very good path for our family.

DSC_0410The former battleground…

Lunch Box Fun

The school year is upon us, today is AJ’s first day of school.  This year is a big one for us, the Babe is beginning to go to preschool and AJ is starting kindergarten.  Like every other parent who has gone through this and will go through it in the future, life is just happening too fast.  The kids are so excited to start at their respective schools, meet new friends and teachers, play and learn all day long.  But you know what I am most excited about, school lunch.  Yep, I have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for all of the fun food to pack in the kids lunches, letting AJ pick out what he would like to eat and planning on what to fill their little bellies so that they will be at their very best for the school day.  Hopefully the task will still be as appealing a couple of months into the school year, because we are at the beginning of this game.   It is a fun challenge to figure out that fine balance between what they will definitely eat and  what is yummy and good for them.  The plan is to utilize some prepackaged “kid” food along with fresher foods and beverages, cover most if not all of the food groups and make sure they are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  So today when I let AJ choose what he wanted in his very first kindergarten lunch, he more than eagerly started rattling off a list of his favorites to but in his brand new shiny lunch box (there is NO question whose child he is).   He selected whole wheat crackers, natural peanut butter to dip them in, two Baby Bell mozzarella cheese rounds, two clementines, water and a juice box.  There is just something so appealing to kids about miniature foods that seem to be just their size.  We talked about washing our hands before we eat, his ability to open any of the packages on his own (and in retrospect, we should of discussed not sharing- in case of allergies).  All in all, I think he is more than prepared for a successful first big kid lunch in a real school cafeteria.

Let’s just hope he eats it.