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Let's Discuss Forcing Children To Eat - Page 2

post #21 of 130
I live by the motto:

It is my job to provide healthy meals and snacks for my son. It is his job to eat (or not) as he sees fit.

period. end of story. Thank you to the author of "How to get your kids to eat...but not too much"!!

I don't cajole, encourage, bribe, entice. All foods are equal. On the rare days I make "dessert" it is just served with the regular meal with no fanfare. Sometimes the brownie gets eaten first, sometimes only the brownie gets eaten. Some times it doesn't get eaten at all.

If offered meals and snacks at regular intervals the child's hunger with indicate it is time to eat. Missing a meals, 2, 3, 4 even 5 will not harm a child.
*Most* children will not starve. *Most* children will eat when hungry and self regulate. *Most* children will not eat only cookies day after day, for weeks on end.

I said most because I am sure some one's mother's cousin's SIL has a friend whose kid did starve to death when not forced food or has a rare disorder that doesn't allow them to eat or they know some one whose kid ate nothing but plain pasta for every single meal for an entire year

Sorry this is a hot button issue for me. I get all when I read or here about kids getting forced to eat.
post #22 of 130
Sorry I meant to answer this:
Quote:
She said that she didn't want the avacado, just the cookie. I told her nope, sorry (not sure exactly what I said, but I explained more..), and cut her avacado up and put it in a bowl in front of her.
She had told me several times that she didn't want it, just the cookie, but when I gave her the bowl she proceeded to eat the avacado pretty much right away.
I would have cut up the avocado and given her both at the same time and let her choose what she wanted to eat first or at all. By indicating that the cookie was "special" even though you didn't use those words exactly your were telling her the cookies was a "treat" . You are also teaching her to ignore her own cues. She may have been full after the avocado but darn if she wasn't going to eat her cookie.
post #23 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by funshine
First, I swear I'm not following you from thread to thread tonight.

Now, the short-order cook thing. I feel your pain! I think Griff is going through a growth spurt or something, he constantly wants to eat. I'm glad that he's an all-day grazer and that he likes healthy food, but good gracious, I get sick of "mommy, I'm hungry" all day long! Fortunately for me, he has recently learned how to get fruit out of the fridge for himself. I'm considering leaving yogurt low enough for him to reach as well, since he can peel off the top and get a spoon out of the drawer by himself. The lowest shelf in our pantry contains foods that he is welcome to snack on. For about half of the food requests during the day, I help him to find something or prepare something. For the other requests, I invite him to choose a snack that he can reach in the fridge or pantry. And it's working SO WELL! He's well fed, I'm sane. Beautiful. I love this age (he's 3.5).
Hee.

I think that sounds really good. I love hearing how other folx do this because it seems like such a struggle in my mind.
post #24 of 130
We really don't have that many issues, and I'm trying really hard to be more laid back about the issues we do have. I grew up in a "you have to eat what you're given" houselhold, and feel incredibly guilty when I take more food than I could eat...even while pregnant with the unpredictable hunger patterns!

DSDs are actually really good about eating, most of the time. The only time we have trouble with DSD2 is if she's tired, in which case she eats as much as she wants and then goes to bed. Other than that, the girls usually choose their meals, and if I'm trying to make something new, they watch me make it and see that all of the ingredients are things they really like. I made meatloaf the other night and they both came in asking for slices of green bell pepper to snack on. And they really don't like sweets, so we don't worry about it too much. They think that 5 skittles (as much as the gumball dispenser spits out for 1 penny) is a great dessert, and are happy to have that much.

All in all, we're pretty lucky. They're willing to try anything once, and very good at eating something and then saying, "No thank you." when asked if they'd like more.
post #25 of 130
OK, I took training to become a certified pediatric obesity trainer, sounds fancy, but really it's just to help me help families with eating problems and obesity problems.

What we learned is that research has shown that when we impose eating habits including the amount, etc. on children, they "forget" to follow their natural instincts and learn not to listen to their body when they are full.

Forcing a child to eat or finish their food IS ALWAYS a control issue. Period. Has nothing to do with nutrition or food or even waste. It's about control.

Please, please, anyone doing this, stop.
post #26 of 130
What if your kid routinely goes 20+ hours without eating unless you say, "sit at the table and eat your food"?
Even as long as two days.
post #27 of 130
Nothing gets my panties in a wad more than my well-meaning friends, family and ILs attempting to cajole DS into eating. Regardless of the number of times that I explain that the more you push, the more he pulls away, every mealtime is full of choruses of "Oh, its soooo good DS, don't you want some??" "We're all eating it, c'mon you'll like it." "Ooooh, watch me eat it..now you try a bite."

The only thing any of this accomplishes is setting up a power struggle that revolves around food. Ds is the kind of kid that if there are foods on the table he hasn't eaten, he will occassionally ask to try some. The more laid back we are about food, the more willing he is to try something new.

Ok, getting off my soap box now
post #28 of 130
Quote:
What if your kid routinely goes 20+ hours without eating unless you say, "sit at the table and eat your food"?
Even as long as two days.
My children will sometimes go a day (or more) without eating. As long as they are healthy, and it's not a frequent habit, I will not make them sit down and eat. I will encourage them to eat, and offer all their favorite foods... but I won't make them eat it.

I was forced to eat as a child, and I absolutely consider it a form of abuse. It had a huge emotional impact on me.
post #29 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by funshine
Griff loves "treats" and often asks for one. Things we do:

1. limit the number of "treat" foods available in the house
2. control the type of "treats" available
3. encourage eating healthy foods first

In your Grandma's-house example, you didn't have control over #1 and #2 but you were aiming for #3. What I might have done differently was to say something like this:

"Yum, that cookie looks delicious. After you have some healthy food we'll have a cookie together. Let's look for something healthy to eat."

That is, I wouldn't have demanded that she eat the avocado. I would have allowed her to have more input on what healthy food she ate.

We haven't created a forbidden fruit out of the treats, we're simply modeling and encouraging good habits. We sometimes have a random treat in the middle of the afternoon, it's not always compulsory to eat healthy food first, and we don't act like it's a reward. But if he's *hungry*, the message we're sending is that your body needs to eat healthy food first.
That's almost exactly what happens here. I don't tell him what or how much he has to eat, but I will discuss eating some healthy food before something sugary, both for health and behavior issues. He knows that he can act a little crazy when he has too much sugar on an empty stomach. And yes, he will often go on to eat other food after he has the cookie, but not always. It's kind of a day by day thing over here.

I will say that even this level of control over his eating makes me uncomfortable, but I am also uncomfortable with letting him eat nothing but chocolate chip cookies all afternoon, which is pretty much what would have happened here today. So I can't say exactly what the answer is, but we do what I quoted above.
post #30 of 130
This is a great discussion and it's given me a lot to think about.

I am pretty relaxed about food but I'm sometimes guilty of saying, "eat (healthy food) first and then you can have (not so healthy food)"

I'm worried about letting go of all control of my kids eating--because I think they'll end up eating way more junk food than I'd like. If dd knows there are cookies in the cupboard, she'd want them all the time. I KNOW she'd end up eating more than just the one a day that we do now. But maybe this evens out after awhile?
post #31 of 130
My husband was abused over food issues as a child.

In retrospect, its amazing that he has a healthy relationship with his parents.

His parents would force him to sit at the table, he was hit, and he was emotionally abused by being called, "it" because he wouldn't eat things that made him gag and wretch.

All of those kids have food issues to this day, but dh was/is the worst. I think he got the brunt of the abuse because he is a firstborn child. He will eat a very narrow variety of foods. Basic meat and potatoes, few veggies, nothing foreign or unusual.

I, by contrast, was exposed to a greater variety of foods and not forced to eat. My mom had things she considered adult foods (like hors de'orves (sp)) and seafood so when you liked new and exotic things it was associated with being more sophisticated and grown-up.

I will never force a child to eat, to the point I will not tolerate other people pulling that stunt in my home. If a child doesn't like what's being served, there's the ubiquitous peanut butter and cereal.
post #32 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by littleteapot
What if your kid routinely goes 20+ hours without eating unless you say, "sit at the table and eat your food"?
Even as long as two days.
As long as the child is healthy I wouldn't sweat it. I swear my son seem to live on air and kisses for days at a time. When he goes thru a non-hungry stage I still prepare meals and snacks as always. We eat family meals twice a day (breakfast & dinner) so he knows he can just sit and chat but he doesn't have to eat. In fact I don't even comment, just put the food on the table. He will eat when hungry.

I also have snacks available that he can grab himself- the bottom shelf of the fridge has cut up veggies, small containers of yogurt, hummus, fruit. Within easy reach in the pantry are individual servings of pretzels, crackers, etc. (I buy bulk and make up small packs myself) I think it is so important for him to listen to his own cues. I would never force my husband to eat, why force my son?
post #33 of 130
Can you actually force a kid to eat?

I hate waste. I have two kids from Ethiopia and I have been there three times and I have seen people literally starving. I refuse to indulge my kids in food frivolity and waste.

But I don't force my kids to eat. Anything they don't eat is either saved for later or thrown back into the pot.

Namaste!

ETA: I do tell my kids that they can have not-so-healthy foods AFTER they have healthy foods. That's just the way it is. My kids know that healthy foods fuel their bodies and not-so-healthy foods don't. They just know that it's best for bodies to eat healthy foods first. Dessert comes after dinner. Treats come after veggies. We're matter of fact about it, and it's no big deal. If we are going somewhere where I know there will be junk, the kids have a nutritious meal or snack before we go. No big deal.
post #34 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
It overrides their natural ability to know what their body needs, in terms of nutrition. It also overrides their ability to know when they are hungry.

If a child loses that important part of control over their own body, they lose control over other aspects, as well. They will start to lack the ability to trust others, as it is 'proven' to them that they cannot trust their very own hunger.
I agree 100%.
post #35 of 130
Quote:
Can you actually force a kid to eat?
In my situation, I was told I couldn't do xyz (playing, etc) until I ate.. or I could not get up until I ate (i would literally sit for hours at the table). The food wasn't forced down my throat, but I was 'punished' until I ate it.
post #36 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by familylove
Nothing gets my panties in a wad more than my well-meaning friends, family and ILs attempting to cajole DS into eating. Regardless of the number of times that I explain that the more you push, the more he pulls away, every mealtime is full of choruses of "Oh, its soooo good DS, don't you want some??" "We're all eating it, c'mon you'll like it." "Ooooh, watch me eat it..now you try a bite."

The only thing any of this accomplishes is setting up a power struggle that revolves around food. Ds is the kind of kid that if there are foods on the table he hasn't eaten, he will occassionally ask to try some. The more laid back we are about food, the more willing he is to try something new.

Ok, getting off my soap box now
We have this issue right now w/my ILs. My MIL is abusive about food and it is AMAZING that DH does not have major emotional issues (and that he's not obese) due to food issues. Everyone had to not only clean their plates, but they had to finish all the food so there were NO leftovers. And (even if they didn't like the meal) they were forced to chorus how delicious the food was. Fast forward to now, DH is finally (he's 33) learning to respect his stomach and not eat stuff that doesn't taste good to him. However, we see my MIL pretty regularly and eat meals at their house. Just this Sunday we were over there and DD was sitting next to her (just the perfect location for her to whisper not-so-sweet food abusiveness into her ear). First MIL loaded up DD's (she's 4) plate w/massive amounts of food and then kept wispering that she needed to eat. Everytime she did that, I would announce (from the other end of the table) "Elie, you can be finished whenever you want to be done." I CANNOT stand that she keeps trying to force my child to eat. They'll eat when they want to. And I will not have my MIL's issues and badness being perpetuated on to another generation.

It is sick, sick, sick, sick. And to top all this off, she told my FIL that he had to clean my DD's plate!!!!!! : The man is grown and he ate as much as he needed to, he doesn't need to finish the massive amounts of food she served to DD.

Needless to say, we have a MUCH different attitude about food at our house....and I hope it's MUCH healthier!
post #37 of 130
I just wanted to say that yes, you can force a child to eat. I have major issues with my SIL. EVERY SINGLE TIME we see her, which is often, she forces her dd (4yo) to eat. She tells her she can't play until she eats. She will use threats like not being allowed to go to ballet anymore if she doesn't eat. The worst is that she uses my son, whom her dd adores, as a threat to eat, as in "You can't go outside and play with ds until you eat." And every single time her dd gets freaked and agrees to eat. This started when she was a baby. When why were spoon feeding her, she would turn her head away. You know, the universal signal that a baby is done eating? Well, my SIL or MIL would shove the spoon into her mouth from the other direction until the jar was finished, and then gush about what a good eater she is.

I get irked because they are always talking about who is a good eater. They are always talking about what a good eater ds2 is. It's crazy, because the only difference between the day ds1 eats and the way ds2 eats is that ds2 likes to eat more at dinner, which is when we usually see them. Both eat healthy foods, and as much of it as they need.

The only problem I have with allowing a child to self regulate sugar is that I believe it has addictive qualities that can be difficult to control. I know that I, as a grown woman whose parents did not control food and who has healthy eating habits, sometimes have a hard time not eating too much sugar. I will even know that I'm not feeling good and that I should eat something else but sometimes just keep going. So I feel like it's my responsibility to guide my 5yo in making those choices.

You know, a lightbulb just went off in my head. Dh routinely talks about how he ate too much at dinner. (He is a healthy weight but exercises regularly to keep in shape.) And I am always confused about how he can routinely eat so much that he feels so full afterwards. I just realized that with the food control issues that his family has, he has probably lost the ability to know when he is full.

The irony about my MIL and SIL and their obsession with how much kids eat is that they are both perpetual dieters who are always unhappy with their weight.
post #38 of 130
My take on the avocado/cookie thing is this:
At grandma's, I would let her have the cookie. Then, later when the blood sugar starts to drop again, offer the avocado. At people's houses, and parties, I let my ds go on his own.
At home, completely different story. There would be no cookies in sight until after the healthy food is eaten. If ds asks for junk food instead of a meal, I tell him that he can have it after the meal is eaten, or have it later for a snack. That way he doesn't feel compelled to eat it if he is full from his meal, he can have it anytime later. He actually likes saving candy and treats for later, or even the next day. I was a bit surprised at this, but hey, I'm glad!

I try hard not to battle over food, pottying, or sleeping. Just not with it!
post #39 of 130
We don't have any food "rules" in our home -- the only thing which is not brought into our home or cooked is meat and most dairy products because we are very strict vegetarians and it is a moral and ethical issue to us. However, when our daughter is old enough to understand how meat gets to her table she will be free to make that choice on her own without sanctions or lectures etc...

Other than that, we have a variety of healthy and not so healthy foods in our home. The "not so healthy" foods are still healthier than their similar counterparts, as we don't purchase anything with high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, and I try to make all of our sweets and such from scratch so they are "whole food" ingredients.

Our daughter is welcome to anything we have in our home, barring liquor of course If she wants a cookie for breakfast, or 3, she is free to them. I trust that she will seek our input and information and that she will more often than not make choices which help her body feel energised and healthy.

We have seen this in practice already at 14 months old. We don't make anything a "treat" or taboo... nothing is "fattening" or "bad" or even "good". We try to stress how certain foods make us feel -- we use words like energy, fresh, juicy, crunchy, sweet, savory, and talk about how certain foods affect our body and moods --- such as "I love the taste of ice cream but if I eat too much for my body I feel tired and sometimes cranky or my tummy hurts" and things of that nature. We talk about how food affects us positively as well as the taste, texture, smell etc... "these carrots are so crunchy!" "I feel like I have more energy when I drink lots of water". Basically statements which are true to us and our own bodies --- while offering our daughter foods she already enjoys, food she may enjoy, and tastes of food we are eating that she expresses interest in.

We have no battles, no *one more bites*, no restrictions, no lectures, no "treats" (all food is treated as just food) etc...

When she gets a bit older and more verbal she will be an active part in the food purchasing of the family --- with respect to our budget, and with ongoing open conversations including but not limited to us providing information and honest input, discussions involving marketing towards children, ingredients, what they do in our body etc....

She already eats when she is hungry, stops when she is full and I am constantly impressed at her ability to self regulate.
post #40 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamamazing
My husband was abused over food issues as a child.

In retrospect, its amazing that he has a healthy relationship with his parents.

His parents would force him to sit at the table, he was hit, and he was emotionally abused by being called, "it" because he wouldn't eat things that made him gag and wretch.

All of those kids have food issues to this day, but dh was/is the worst. I think he got the brunt of the abuse because he is a firstborn child. He will eat a very narrow variety of foods. Basic meat and potatoes, few veggies, nothing foreign or unusual.

I, by contrast, was exposed to a greater variety of foods and not forced to eat. My mom had things she considered adult foods (like hors de'orves (sp)) and seafood so when you liked new and exotic things it was associated with being more sophisticated and grown-up.

I will never force a child to eat, to the point I will not tolerate other people pulling that stunt in my home. If a child doesn't like what's being served, there's the ubiquitous peanut butter and cereal.
Are you married to my husband?

He will *NOT* eat bone in chicken, Bone in steak, Bone in ANYTHING. He has a hard time choking down porkchops, ham, cheese, His meat has to be cooked to absolute doneness and beyond to shoe leather..

He'll only eat Hamburger and chicken breasts that's *IT* He'll *occasionally* eat a steak, then it has to be NY striploin or none at all..Veggies? Forget it. Raw carrots and raw Scallions and that's it....then it has to be served with a dip.

I offer DD food, she doesn't eat it, then she gets removed from the table so she doesn't start up and try to ruin OUR Meal with attempting to get our attention. DH works all day, he spends a good hour with her one on one before dinner, so dinner is one of the few moments *I* get to spend with him. I'll give her peanut butter on toast if she's hungry later...usually DH eats what she doesnt anyway because he's so hungry. LOL

Last night she snubbed roasted chicken and mashed potatoes because it had gravy on it. Oh well...she got something bland later..No big, dont want it dont eat it but I"m NOT cooking you something different. She doesn't get "rewarded" by getting something Yummy delish if she snubs supper. She gets something bland and nutritional, nothing more nothing less.

Till she gets older to cook her own simple meals, she gets what' I cook. *shrug* When she's old enough to make her own Ramen or her own EZmac or whatever, she is more than welcome to.
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