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…

Digging for Gold

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There are so many food “rules” floating around out there that I try not to aggressively restrict the family in obeying many of them.  Instead, I like to make goals, better eating habits that are not necessarily limiting, but expanding on all of the healthful choices that are available.  One major goal that our family has is to consume as many locally or regionally sourced foods as our budget allows.  We are BIG fans of the farmers market.   Virginia has been very kind to us in this arena.  There are so many markets, bakeries and dairies to choose from and utilize.  I am in local food heaven.  This is a far cry from our home state of Florida in regards to variety and availability of truly local foods.  This past week we decided to pay a visit to one of the local farms for some down and dirty potato picking.  Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA was hosting their annual Big Dig festival.  The kids had a blast foraging for Yukon Golds and (what appeared to be) Idaho Reds.  Tim was even able to pick some green beans in the neighboring field.  The picking part was short-lived though, we had to pace ourselves otherwise we would have ended up with 50 pounds of potatoes for our little family of four.  At the end of the day we had a great adventure, playing on the farm, visiting the animals and bringing home about 15 pounds of potatoes for our future dining pleasure.

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The kids on the hunt.  AJ was so excited, he brought his own shovel.

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Returning from the fields, hot, happy and covered in dirt.