Clean your plate! (If you want to…)

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There’s a lot of information floating around on the internet these days, much of it has to do with how to raise our kids.

At Little Bellies, we’re all about making dinnertime easier on the parents, AND the kids. So I wanted to share this article I found. I really like this advice. It says:

When it comes to feeding little kids, adults know best. But some nutritionists now argue that children could also benefit from a bit of autonomy at mealtimes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that parents let kids as young as 2 years old serve themselves at home. And in 2011, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advised that child care providers should serve meals “family-style” — present kids with a few different dishes and allow them to take what they want.

Why? Because there’s now research showing that when kids are allowed to serve themselves, they’re less likely to overeat. They also tend to be more open to trying different kinds of foods.

We do this in our house as often as we can.

If I serve a meal up onto individual plates I feel like I’m imposing my own interpretation of how much everyone ‘should’ be eating. But that’s listening to MY hunger, not theirs. I prefer to serve up say, a lasagne and salad, or tacos and a whole bunch of fillings, and let everyone serve themselves. I find my boys eat a good range of foods, and more of it, when they have control over their own meals. (Really, they don’t because I have still decided what to serve! Ha ha! Shh, don’t tell them…)

And we’re all a lot happier at the dinner table. Which is the whole point.

Do you eat your meals ‘family style’? Please leave a comment with your favourite meal to serve – we all need some more ideas!

Chicken taco image courtesy Taste.com.au. Head here for the recipe.

Why dinner sucks more than The Lego Movie*

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We’ve all been there. As soon as you announce dinner time, all hell breaks loose! WE want the kids to eat a balanced meal with lots of vegetables. THEY want chicken nuggets and chips. There must be a middle ground, right? Nobody can face that. Every. Single. Night.

A little while ago I came across this bloke, John Rosemond. Mr John certainly has some strong opinions on the best way to get our kids to eat dinner. Here’s his 3-step plan:

  1. Fix the picky eater what you want him to eat for breakfast and lunch. If he does not eat it, wrap it or toss it. Do not allow him to snack between meals, even if he’s eaten nothing all day. You have to stop wanting him to eat. He will live, I assure you. 

  2. Prepare the evening meal with no consideration of said picky eater’s food preferences. On his plate, put one level teaspoon of each food, as in one teaspoon of roast beef, one teaspoon of mashed potatoes with a few drops of gravy (“He loves mashed potatoes and gravy!”), and one teaspoon of broccoli. The rule then becomes: When the child has eaten everything on his plate, he may have seconds of anything, and the second helping of whatever in this case, mashed potatoes and gravy can be as large as his eyes are big.

  3. It will take a week or so and much complaining and maybe even pitiful wailing in the interim, but he will eventually begin eating the green, weird-tasting thing. At that point, begin slowly increasing the portion size of the green thing, but do not increase the portion of the thing(s) he loves.

I’m not quite as hard-core as Mr John, though I have at some points been quite prepared to chuck all the food out and let everybody fend for themselves. But then again, the thought of my kids eating nothing else all day really freaks me out. Sure, logically I know they won’t starve to death in just 24 hours. To be honest, it’s the incessant whining that would come along with that decision which totally puts me off.

I prefer a simpler solution: to understand that kids, in general, are fussy. Ours are not the only ones, I promise! I put something on their plate that they like and then ask them to choose something from the salad bowl. The fact they eat SOMETHING from the salad bowl is my choice. WHAT they choose is theirs. One son always chooses carrot. The other, a lettuce leaf. I don’t care, everybody wins.

And occasionally they can have chicken nuggets and chips. And I will, too.

What do you think of Mr John’s theory? Good advice, or too harsh?

*Actually, I haven’t seen The Lego Movie, but it holds absolutely zero appeal for me, even in the teeny tiny preview I have seen. My seven-year-old son, however, loved it. But then, he’s also pretty good at dinner… 🙂