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…

Keeping Your Kool

In every relationship there are disagreements on how to manage your household.  As the person who does the shopping, prepares the meals, and oh gee, has the most knowledge of food in the house, I like to have control of the kitchen and what foods enter our home.  But there is one item I cannot shake.  The tropical punch Kool-Aid.  My husband has this deep-seeded need to have the occasional glass of the red-dyed, sugar-filled beverage.  I was cool with the idea when AJ was little, but now both of the kids want to join in on the artificial fun.  The list of forbidden foods for our home is pretty short and artificial food coloring tops it.  We have even weeded it out of medicines, vitamins and toothpaste.  There is definitely a difference in AJ’s behavior when he eats foods that contain the dye.  When we are visiting friends and family, I am not so strict and allow them to partake in what their peers do, but I have done very good job of keeping it out of our home.  Except for that Kool-Aid.

So the dilemma is the different viewpoints of my husband and I.  He perceives it in a manner similar to the beer and wine we have in the house.  That it is off limits to the kids.  While I think that since they are growing older, we need to set a good example and not drink it ourselves.  The problem with his viewpoint is that it is not really off-limits because whenever he has a glass and they are around, they seem to always partake in the sweet-red potion.  To be fair, my methodology prevents the kids from participating in a lesson in moderation and self-control.   So who is right?  Clearly at this present time, it is not a disagreement that I am winning.  I am not giving up though, the debate will continue every time the container of the fake juice runs out.