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Can't I have any food rules? - Page 2

post #21 of 80
This is an interesting thread and quite frankly I never thought of how we actually eat. I never considered that we have "rules" for our eating habits. I am home with dd and we sit down together to eat breakfast and lunch and daddy joins us at dinner. dd is 19mo and hasn't started to be picky yet, I'm sure it is coming. She eats heartily at most every meal. She usually lets me know she is done when she starts throwing the food on the floor for the dog. He sits right at her feet at every meal, licking his chops!!! The dog is one reason why we eat our actual meals at the table. I have a fast metabolism and dd is built just like me so we do nosh all day, but I really try to offer healthy snacks. Is it a "rule" to sit down together to have a meal or is it family time? Whatever works for you and your family just as long as everyone is happy and healthy.
post #22 of 80
Thread Starter 
Quote:
hasn't started to be picky yet, I'm sure it is coming.
It may not be. my DD is not picky. she does have certain foods (kielbasa but who could blame her) that she doesn't like but all in all she easy to feed.
My DS however has always been picky.
post #23 of 80
My kids eat all througout the day. They eat mesy stuff at the table, and I allow crackers or other easy stuff in the living room. They cannot have food upstairs, and as I'm not excited about a destroyed carpet just so they can eat cereal in front of the tv, we do have some basic rules about what's allowed where. I leave a bowl of crackers, raisins, cubed cheese, etc. on the table all day long and they graze from it. I do put it up about an hour before lunch and dinner so they're ready for "real food", and then we sit in our chairs and eat that specific meal. I think it's appropriate to treat food like you would any other "issue" in your home - there are guidelines, and even requirements. My 6 year old is not allowed to help himself to whatever he finds in the frig, he has to ask. He didn't buy it, he doesn't know what I might need it for and he doesn't know how close to mealtime it might be.
post #24 of 80
We have always, always, always had set meal and snack times.

Our rules were as follows:

Meals: You can eat anything on the table but nothing else is offerred. We tried to have at least one thing that everyone liked and each girl got to help plan one meal per week. If you leave the table you are done.

Snacks: A list is posted on the pantry door. You can choose anything on the list. Snacks are eaten in the kitchen, sitting down.

Here was a typical menu from the range where I had a 3 year old, a 4 year old and a 6 year old:

Breakfast: On table: Cherrios, Granola, Yogurt, Fresh Stawberries, Orange Juice, water, milk

Snack: (Sample items: banana, cucumber and tomatoes, celery with peanut butter, dry cereal, yougurt)

Lunch: Vegetable Soup, Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese, Sweet potato chips, Carrots and Salsa.

Snack

Dinner: Salmon, Baked Potatos, Bowls of Chedder Cheese, Mozzarell Cheese, Spinach, Sour Cream, Tomatoes, Edamame, Ceasar Salad, Rasberries and Blueberry Salad.

Here's another dinner menu: Pasta with bowls of meat sauce, marinara sauce, plain bread, garlic bread, Stips of chicken breast, peas, Mozzarella, basil and tomato salad, Bananas and Blackberries.

Here's another (I keep them on my computer...we still use them today): Skirt Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Itallian "Salad Bar" (bowls of Lettuce, tomoato, cucumber, feta, olives, peppers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar) carrots, mushrooms.


Snack Milk and Treat (small piece of candy, cookie etc) or any of our other listed snacks.

Now my girls, have a power bar and milk for breakfast and bring salads or pitas with stuff inside wtih some fruit for lunch. No snacks either, usually. But we still have our family dinners and I still use these menus!

No one ever complained that they were hungry in addion to the snacks and meals. If they had I would have added another set snack time. Often they would reject the snack.
post #25 of 80
I think part of the challenge with grazing is that it's hard to get a very balanced diet going. A friend of mine did that for a long time and then realized when her ds was about 3 1/2 that he was not eating a very balanced diet.

Anyway, I think the idea of meals and presented a balanced selection is teaching kids to think about what they are eating, how it makes them feel, the energy it gives them, when they are hungry, etc. If you graze all day, you rarely feel the hunger cues and end up eating snack types of foods rather than wholesome meals. Some things just take some time to prepare and I think that is a ritual that is important and healthy in the whole perception of nourishing our bodies.
post #26 of 80
I do talk to my kids about eating a balance of foods -- but that said, I have also read several studies on the subject that found when children have access to a variety of healthy foods, they choose a balanced diet over the long haul. In the space of one or two days, it might look very imbalanced -- all carbs or something. But that when recorded over a period of months, and then evaluated as a whole, the diets of children who graze like this look pretty ideal. Now -- if there is junk food around, it becomes an option, then it throws the whole thing off.
post #27 of 80
My 16 mo old DS grazes all day long. Usually I'll just put some fruit or crackers on the coffee table for him and he'll take a bite, run to play, then come back when he wants another bite.
We don't have set mealtimes because I've always grazed as well. If I feel like cooking something, I will but since my DH has an unpredictable work schedule (he'll come home anywhere between 3 pm to 8 pm since he works construction) we don't have a set dinner time either. Usually, DS and I eat when we're hungry and if I make a meal I just put some in the fridge for DH or he makes himself something when he comes home.
We're just a grazing family.
The only "rule" I have is that if DS is eating yogurt or something of the sort, he'll eat it in the high chair or I'll feed it to him to avoid a huge mess on the floor. But I usually vacuum crumbs two-three times a day. Doesn't bother me in the least.
EDIT: To the OP, since your kids seem to be grazers and you have problems with snacks and having to leave, I recommend the snack trap for the car. It's awesome! I don't know if I'm allowed to post a link to where you can get it or not but PM me if you want to know.
post #28 of 80
My son has SID and is a horrible eater. We are working hard to introduce some foods he will eat .. otherwise he'd be happy to live off drinking a few PediaSure drinks each day.

So I let him eat what he wants, when he wants. Often we sit together on the couch and talk and I help him eat (otherwise he gets distracted). At school he's expected to eat at certain times, sitting at the table. I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with it, and if you want to implement that rule, I say go for it.

In the case where they get hungry just as you are ready to leave, I'd probably just take some food in the car. We do that often because my son eats really well from his booster seat while we are driving places.

But to answer your question, I don't think there is anything wrong with having meal times at the table that don't drag on all day. I'd be inclined to do something similar if I didn't already have such a challenging eater.
post #29 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronsmom View Post
My 16 mo old DS grazes all day long. Usually I'll just put some fruit or crackers on the coffee table for him and he'll take a bite, run to play, then come back when he wants another bite.
We don't have set mealtimes because I've always grazed as well. If I feel like cooking something, I will but since my DH has an unpredictable work schedule (he'll come home anywhere between 3 pm to 8 pm since he works construction) we don't have a set dinner time either. Usually, DS and I eat when we're hungry and if I make a meal I just put some in the fridge for DH or he makes himself something when he comes home.
We're just a grazing family.
The only "rule" I have is that if DS is eating yogurt or something of the sort, he'll eat it in the high chair or I'll feed it to him to avoid a huge mess on the floor. But I usually vacuum crumbs two-three times a day. Doesn't bother me in the least.
EDIT: To the OP, since your kids seem to be grazers and you have problems with snacks and having to leave, I recommend the snack trap for the car. It's awesome! I don't know if I'm allowed to post a link to where you can get it or not but PM me if you want to know.
I would love to have the link to the snack trap. You can PM me, or I'm sure it's fine to post it here.
post #30 of 80
We're also grazers, but if we do have a time constraint, we use the time-limit method to allow our dc ample time to finish what they want to eat. We also always take individual containers with a small assortment of snacks into the van everyday. The containers will have raisins, whole grain crackers, apple slices and cubed cheese or other items according to what we have available.

We sit down for breakfast every day (bananas, berries, milk and nuts in a bowl with whole grain toast on the side, occassionally oatmeal with raisins- definitely table meal). They have started to eat an enormous breakfast- much more than either dh or I can eat and since this is how they are eating, we eat lunch rarely, just graze on fruit, veggies, etc... and dependent upon what we're having, if we're having lunch at all, we will sometimes eat at the table. Usually but not always, we have dinner which we eat at the table.

Our dc do know that once they've come down from the table, they are done (unless it's to use the toilet, of course) and this is because our kitchen set-up means that most of us have to move when one has to leave the table or come back. I don't know if we would have that rule otherwise. We are planning to have a low table with floor seating on cushions in our new home, so dc will be able to move as they please; this set-up will influence our food choices as well, though, so their moving may or may not be an issue. We'll have to see.
post #31 of 80
What I do, is I sit food out for ds. I ask him if he's done if he hasn't touched it for a while (and I'm very lenient about leaving stuff out, so sometimes it's an hour or more). If he's not done, I leave it.
But if I'm cleaning, or otherwise just really feel the need to put it up (after plenty of time, of course), I say something like "ok, I'm going to clean this up. If you still want something after I get this cleaned up, I'll get it for you."
And I mean it- if he still wants something- even the same thing, I'll get it for him. But usually it doesn't even go there. After the food gets put up, he realizes that he's doesn't really want to eat anymore.
I think there's something to it, that if there's food left, he feels like he shouldn't be done eating (even though I've never been a clean plate promoter), or he still wants to eat (even if he's not hungry).

My only real food rule is that I won't get out a new x if he hasn't finished the x (exact same thing) that he's already eating. Ie, if he's eating a strawberry yogurt, I won't get out another strawberry yogurt until he's done with the first one. (obviously, if it's fruit that's browned or something, I'll get him new).
Seems like a really logical "rule" to me, but it caused a few meltdowns in the past. lol.
post #32 of 80
I only give the kids a time limit if we have to get out the door.

I have two rules: food must be eaten over a hardwood floor ( or the backyard) and if DC gets out food they must finish it before they get new food. If the foods gone over I make an exception but for a while we were composting a lot of half eaten fruit and we are on a TIGHT grocery budget- we just can't do that.
post #33 of 80
I think its entirely reasonable to have some boundaries around food and meals, but I also think that some people go way overboard for my tastes. And as someone else pointed out, this is a really individual thing for each family to figure out.

In our house, we have family breakfast and dinner (and lunch on weekends, but we are all out on weekdays). DH or I cooks (or assembles) those meals and we all eat together. The together is really key for us and helps everyone actually sit down and eat. But the kids are excused as soon as they say they are full, regardless of whether I think they have eaten enough or not. And if we prepare something they don't want or like, they are allowed to get themselves an alternative. But I don't get up and do it so I'm not a short order cook and I get to eat hot good food myself. They are 4 and 7 and have been getting their own alternative foods since they were about 2.

Snacks are much freer. During the week they eat snack at school, so that is a set time and a set snack that we don't have any control over. They know this and eat breakfast accordingly.

At home (afternoons, weekends) they are free to help themselves to anything they want when they want. I make it easier by having a snack bin in the pantry, fruit on the counter, and all of their snack-y foods together in reach in the fridge. But they are responsible for their own snacking. I do remind them, politely, to throw away trash and such and that is an issue that we are working on. I will also put out snack trays with an assortment of options for them if they are hosting a playdate, mostly to keep strange children from rummaging through the kitchen.

For us, this is a good compromise. Meals together ensure family time and some guarentee of nutrition. It also gives us a chance to both cook and eat together, and both kids are learning to cook and appreciate good food. And gives us a chance to coach table manners -- one area that I've seen other children who freely graze without family meals are sometimes (not always) woefully lacking. Being able to get their own alternatives if they don't like something respects their tastebuds and preferences while protecting my right to eat hot food. And giving them control over their snacking means they can eat when and what they want during the day, giving them control over their bodies and teaching them to understand their body's signals.
post #34 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
I think rules for the sake of sanity are fine. I'm trying to remember back to when my kids were smaller, but now that they are older -- if they walk away from the table I consider them "finished." I ask them to go back and clear up. We also have the issue of a dog -- so anything left out on the table gets snitched up by her pretty fast.
Your house sounds like mine! Random food left lying around will get eaten by our dog! My kids are old enough to carry their dirty dishes back to the kitchen -- so they decide when they are done and they help clean up after themselves.

Quote:
"We're leaving in 10 minutes. Last chance to eat what you need to feel full so that we can go." We also take unfinished food in the car, snacks in my purse, etc.
I agree. Cold cereal in a bag, french toast sticks, raw vegies all make good car snacks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hipumpkins View Post
I know it sounds crazy..well maybe not to those of you who suffer(ed) from eating disorders but I am so afraid of passing on my total confusion abut eating onto my kids..it is such a horrible way to live that I was afraid of even setting time limits at all. Those 2 things will totally work for me. thank you!
I've never had an eating disorder, but I found this a funky issue when my kids were small. My goal was to find a solution that truly worked for all of us. I wanted a way to have a plan but not be controlling.

I decided on regular meals times but the kids always having access to healthy snacks because:

1. It was easier for me, which meant that I had more enjoy to be patient and kind and an all around good mom.

2. It encouraged my kids to try different foods, rather than sticking with the super easy to grap things.

3. It helped regulate their eating. When they grazed more and had regular meals less, one of my DDs wouldn't eat much all day, and then at night would eat and eat an eat and couldn't seem to get full.

4. Keeping easy things for them to get whenever they want -- yogurts, dry fruit, etc. -- means they are free to eat when they are hungry.

5. Doing most of their eating at the table means that the rest of the house stays cleaner. There isn't food all over everything they own.

On a practical note, you might try reading to them during breakfast. When my kids were smaller, I often read their library books to them during breakfast because it helped them sit still and focus on their meal. It's a nice way to start the day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
I have also read several studies on the subject that found when children have access to a variety of healthy foods, they choose a balanced diet over the long haul.
In the studies that I've seen, the kids only had access to healthy foods. They had no salt, no sugar, etc. Although we eat healthy as a family, we don't eat like that! My kids have access to the many wonders that our culture has come up with -- such as ice cream and chocolate. I feel serving them regular balanced meals helps them develop life long healthy habits.
post #35 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montessorimom8 View Post
: I'm confused - you as the adult don't have the attention span to sit and have a meal?
Not all adults have the same attention spans. Are you familiar with ADD/ADHD at all? Whether you believe it's as widespread as it is or that it's a "problem" or just a variation in people, some people do have to deal with it. If my caffeine level isn't just so, I have to fight to sit through an entire meal with my family.

As far as the OP's concerns, I'm a big fan of leaving snacks available whenever. My DH was taught as a child to ignore his hunger and only eat during mealtimes. He has blood sugar crashes and spikes because he won't eat for hours on end because he just never knows when he's really hungry. He waits until he's absolutely starving because that's where he got to as a child on someone else's schedule. I'm having a lot of trouble helping him figure out how to eat when he really needs to again.
post #36 of 80
This seems to be another area where what is important is to pay attention to your child and what they need in terms of meals/schedules/rules/etc. My ds would go for hours without eating if I didn't suggest it. He just is too busy doing other things to stop to eat. His papa is the same way. My younger babe is much more of an eater it seems. He enjoys sitting at the table and munching away. Friends of mine also have kids who get very excited about sitting down to a meal and seem to really enjoy eating.

I do think governing how much is not a good idea...that's when it's important for them to listen to their bodies. There's no way I can tell if their tummies are full...none of my business. But it is my business to present healthy options (and give in to the occassional treat now and then).
post #37 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna View Post
I get the feeling they are sensing your controlling nature about food.
Seriously?

I think the OP seems to have anything but a controlling nature.

I think some food rules would be totally fine! I used to be pretty free-for-all when it came to food, but frankly (and flame away, I'm happy with my decision) I got sick of it -- I got sick of the food waste, I got sick of the mess, I got sick of being out of fruit the day after grocery shopping (and yes, I buy *plenty* of fruit), I got sick of my kids being grumpy b/c they didn't eat enough protein, I got sick of cooking a decent meal and having nobody eat b/c they were gorging themselves on crackers while I was cooking.....

We do 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, generally. I offer food every 2-3 hours. For breakfast, if I cook (pancakes, crepes, waffles, eggs etc) then that is what is offered -- if it is cereal or toast they can choose from those, and I always serve milk (cow or soy is their choice) for the protien. Snacks are always from at least 2, and usually 3 categories of food -- veggies and dip made from yogurt, crackers and cheese with apple slices etc. Lunch is sometimes more like dinner, sometimes more like a big snack, and dinner is usually whichever of those that lunch wasn't. Again, if I really cook a meal, then that is the only thing served. If I do sandwiches or something, then there is usually a choice btwn pbj and cheese/lettuce or lunchmeat if we have it.

I don't leave food on the table when the meal time is done. Our cats get into it anyway. If someone really wasn't hungry, I'll save their plate for later, but if later gets to be right before dinner then they have to wait for dinner. I don't save stuff that I know they won't eat later (cereal, cold toast, soggy pancakes -- obviously this varies kid to kid).
post #38 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna View Post
I think this is awful. I'm glad you offer something that they like, but I really disagree with limiting snacks like that. My sister has an incredibly fast metabolism and really NEEDS to eat very often. She always has.

We'd actually ALL be healthier if we ate more often in smaller amounts. Humans are really a snacking animal by nature.

-Angela
I am sorry you feel that way but it works for us... My 32lb, 2 year old would sit and eat all day if I let him. Because of my limitations he has a very healthy diet. To each his own!
post #39 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
I think rules for the sake of sanity are fine. I'm trying to remember back to when my kids were smaller, but now that they are older -- if they walk away from the table I consider them "finished." I ask them to go back and clear up. We also have the issue of a dog -- so anything left out on the table gets snitched up by her pretty fast.

I don't think you need to wait around for 2 hours while your kids graze. I don't really think its about food, or going to create food issues, to tell your kids that, "We're leaving in 10 minutes. Last chance to eat what you need to feel full so that we can go." We also take unfinished food in the car, snacks in my purse, etc.
Do you live in my house? This is pretty much how I operate. We didn't have problems with breakfast, we had problems with dragging dinner out until bedtime was pushed back by at least an hour. (And yes, we needed bedtime. If we missed the window, DD1 couldn't fall asleep for another hour and a half, but was a weeping, wailing mess the whole time.) When dinner's dragging, I'll finally say, "I'm clearing in 10 minutes, come finish if you're hungry. Otherwise please clear your bowl to the sink!" Half the time, they come and eat more. Half the time, they say, "I'm done!" and clear their plates. It works for us. Otherwise, they're free to snack all day long, if they're hungry. But I did have to make a rule about finishing up a meal (really just dinner) so that I could finally begin to end the day!
post #40 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mistymama View Post
I would love to have the link to the snack trap. You can PM me, or I'm sure it's fine to post it here.
Ok. I'll post it here so everyone else can have it, too. http://www.jamtots.com/Snack-Trap-C456.aspx
It's an ingenious little contraption!
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