I never force feed my children (one or two more bites). Also, my youngest is seven years old and has many allergies to food. I noticed that she didn't want to eat those foods (before we found out she was allergic). I can't imagine if I'd have forced it upon her. One thing that we do is have the kids help prepare the meal and help with the menu.
Things to never say to your child at a meal
"One more bite. I hear this phrase a lot. A parent requires that a child take one more bite of something before they can leave the table. Is this requirement made to insure enough calories or nutrients that the child needs? That may be the intent, but the reality is that the amount of calories and nutrients in that one last bite will not make or break a child’s health. So what this decree of one more bite says to the child is: I (the parent) know how much you need to eat, not you, but I (the parent) am in charge here and you don’t leave until I say so, or perhaps, I (the parent) have the power here, so eat if I tell you to. All of these messages leave a child with mixed messages about food and an opening for a power struggle with a parent."
"You need to eat your vegetables before you can have more bread. Many parents believe that certain foods need to be eaten at each meal. Some of us are concerned that if we let our children fill up on one food, they won’t eat the other foods offered. There is some truth to this, but if all of the foods offered are healthy foods, why do we care which foods they eat more of? Even if they choose to fill up on bread, don’t worry. They will eat vegetables or fruits another time. You can also discourage over eating of a fun food by only put enough of the fun food on the table for everyone to have a serving. When the bread is gone, it is gone. If your child says that they are hungry and they want more bread, calmly point out that the bread is gone but there is still chicken and carrots. If they are hungry they will eat, they may even try a new food!"
"Are you a food micro-manager?"
"We all want our children to eat healthy foods and there are many ways to allow this to happen. Our first job is to offer healthy foods often. A hungry child will eat, so the more often healthy foods are offered, the more of them will be eaten. But children are sometimes fearful of food, not hungry, or more interested in trying to get you what they want instead of eating. All of these actions can lead to the same disastrous result: a power struggle of over who gets their way.
We can avoid this struggle by not over managing how much and what our child eats. Remember, you offer what you would like your child to eat. Then the rest is up to them. They can eat and nourish their body or choose not to eat with the consequence of hunger coming very soon. The beauty of this is that you were not the “bad guy” in this scenario. Hunger caused the discomfort, the result of them choosing not to eat.
But some parents can not let go of this managerial stance and let hunger and fullness do it’s job without them. They micro-manage a child’s eating. These are the parents that you see deciding for the child what food should be eaten first. Supposedly this ensures that nutritious foods will be eaten first when the child is most hungry. Perhaps, but a child given a variety of food over time will in fact choose foods that meet their nutritional needs. Telling a child what they need to eat first undermines their need for some independence and their reliance and confidence in their own internal cues that guide them naturally.
I often hear “you need to take one more bite”, as if that last bite guarantees the exact amount of calories or nutrients necessary at that moment in time. Or a parent who requires that a child finish a certain amount of a food. A child instinctively knows how much food they need, the more we trust them the more they will make good decisions.
Interestingly, there have been several studies that show that the more we manage our children’s eating decisions, the more likely they are to become over weight and have emotional problems with foods. The study observed parents eat a meal with their child. Immediately after the meal the children were put in a room without parents. There were activities in the room as well as a variety of snacks. It was observed that the children whose parents had over managed their child’s lunch where more likely to eat again, right after lunch. These children where also the ones who where already over weight."
Taken from http://www.creatinghealthyeaters.com/articles.html
I hope that article helps. : )