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Can't I have any food rules? - Page 3

post #41 of 80
When my kids were younger, we had pretty "set" mealtimes, but they were always allowed to snack. I don't buy a lot of junk food, so if they were to snack, most of their snacks would be okay foods.

Now that they're older and DH and I work weird hours, the only "set" meal is dinner. We've had trouble with getting the kids up in the morning, but my boys actually told me last week that they'd be willing to get up earlier (which is what I'd like) if they had a hot breakfast ready for them every morning. I absolutely hate cooking breakfast, so this is a big deal for me, but I am willing to do it.

Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with moderate rules regarding food. When life is busy, being a short order cook can wear a person down.

And for those who have expressed here that they feel kids should be able to eat whenever they're hungry, I hope you plan to homeschool.
post #42 of 80
Dd is only 13 months old, but we absolutely plan on doing family, sit-down meals. We all eat breakfast together at the table every morning. Currently, dd naps when I have lunch, but she has an afternoon snack with me, at the table. Right now, she goes to bed before dinner (she likes to go to sleep early, so there's not enough time between when dh gets home and when she goes to bed)--but dh and I eat dinner together every night, so dd will join us when she's older.

I think family mealtimes are wonderful--a great chance to talk and catch up, and they provide a little structure to the day. Like PP, we will put an array of foods on the table and nothing else will be served--but it's not like we'll force dd to eat anything. She can snack as much as she wants, on healthy choices, between meals.

I'm a little surprised that people think having meals together as a family is somehow bad. There's a limit to the kinds of foods you can graze on--sit-down meals provide opportunities to experience different kinds of food and to try new things. Especially when families are busy, meals provide built in "family time." I'm not saying to force your kids to eat (I definitely don't believe in that) and I also think it's a bad idea to disallow a hungry kid to have a snack, but I do think that sharing meals together is important. When I was young, my whole family always ate dinner together, but by the time I was in middle school, it had pretty much stopped as the older kids got older and my mom got sick of cooking. Honestly, it was a real loss emotionally and my diet was much poorer b/c I was eating a lot more convenience foods.
post #43 of 80
i haven't read all the posts yet, but i just wanted to throw this in. i like the idea of "structure" better than the idea of "rules" ... i recently spent a month at a zen temple where there was definitely a lot of structure. we ate at the same time every day, often in silence. these weren't "rules" that someone enforced ... it was just the way we did it and i found that it was great! of course, if there was a really good reason that i couldn't participate, i would be allowed to skip a meal ... but that really rarely happened and otherwise everyone was expected to participate in the structure. eating with other people in that kind of way is definitely a bonding experience. this is something dh and i are trying to figure out now (how to eat at least one or two meals together around his work schedule) i'm not sure how old your kids are, but maybe they could even help deciding when and how you all want to eat meals. then, once it's decided, it will be a group thing and not mom enforcing the rules. this might take some of the power struggle out of it. maybe you could make it a fun thing -- like lunches get picnic status or everyone participates in cooking dinner ...

also, ita with pp's about snacks being available all the time. i think that your kids will learn healthy eating from your example and their own experience, as long as it isn't a power struggle.
post #44 of 80
Quote:
I'm a little surprised that people think having meals together as a family is somehow bad.
Oh no! I don't think anyone is suggesting that at all. I doubt anyone here would debate that family mealtime is a really nice experience, when everyone is interested and behaving nicely.

Its just that the toddler/preschool age kids have such a hard time with it. I think that a lot of people are suggesting that creating a lot of requirements around mealtime and food issues can create power struggles that may lead to hang ups about food. Its one perspective.

Many of us (me included) were lax about keeping our kids at the table in a chair when they were little, instead just letting them come and go and graze. It was a phase -- my kids sit very nicely at the table now, because they want to and they enjoy it, not because its mandatory.
post #45 of 80
We definitely have food 'rules' though many of the people I know IRL would call them way too lax. DD1 had food texture issues from the beginning, and is sensitive in general to any stimuli. This led to my consulting with registered dieticians and public health, which in turn led me to reading Ellyn Satter's books. Anyone else familiar with them?
Very generally, the premise is that adults have the responsibility of "what" and chidlren have the responsibility of "how much, if any". It advocates predictable meal times so that children can learn to predict time distance between meals and "fill up" accordingly (or not). So, meal time is when it is, and you eat as much as you want (if any) and on it goes throughout the day, with some attention to serving foods you know your child normally likes instead of new foods all the time, or less liked foods all the time. This approach really helped DD1 with becoming used to new foods; the no pressure approach with structure really worked: "you do not have to eat this food, but I'm putting it on your plate. you may try it if you would like". Also, we do not accept complaining or whining about food. "EEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" is NOT an acceptable response to a new food. Part of this is my belief that at some level, I would like my family to appreciate what bountiful food choices we have and how fortunate we are to have them. The other part is my sanity. It's pretty awful to spend hours making a new special meal to be responded to with "ewww, that's disgusting!".

The planned or scheduled meals and snacks has put an absolute end to panhandling at our house between meals. That said, when we first introduced planned meal times, we had about 8 eating times per day. We adjusted that as we found appropriate for our family's needs, and now it's 6 times a day. Works great for us, and while I do appreciate that "eat when and what you want" philosophy, it does not work for us. It is not just about the children; I as a mother need some structure and sanity in my life to be a good parent.
post #46 of 80
The only thing I find fustrating is when they ask for food 10minutes after we just had a meal.

Well actually, I have another. My oldest will walk into the kitchen and say "ewww xyz. I don't like xyz." : No, you don't have to eat it. I kind of lost it tonight when I had just asked her what she wanted becuase we were having something she didn't like and she still complained about dinner. Seriously, you don't have to eat it, you can have something else. :
post #47 of 80
Recently I read an article that supported what I've observed with people we know. Families that don't have family meals are more likely to end up with kids who eat a very restricted diet. It is important that kids see other people eating a variety of foods together as a social experience. It is very easy with the array of snack type foods and kid friendly foods to get into a habit of just giving kids bits of what you know they will eat rather than having a normal social experience of eating a wider variety of foods. If it is important to your family over the long term that your kid eat something other than baby carrots and goldfish crackers I think it is worth making some effort to have regular family meals.
post #48 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2tadpoles View Post
And for those who have expressed here that they feel kids should be able to eat whenever they're hungry, I hope you plan to homeschool.
One of the many reasons.
post #49 of 80
Quote:
I'm a little surprised that people think having meals together as a family is somehow bad.
I don't think anyone said it was bad.

However I personally find chewing and eating not to be particularly...relevant?...to spending quality time with others. It's more the talking and hanging out that generates a sense of closeness for me. So, if my interest was in setting aside quality time to spend with family each day, we'd be more likely to sit around and talk, or go for a walk, or play a game, or something like that as a focus.
post #50 of 80
Quote:
Recently I read an article that supported what I've observed with people we know. Families that don't have family meals are more likely to end up with kids who eat a very restricted diet. It is important that kids see other people eating a variety of foods together as a social experience. It is very easy with the array of snack type foods and kid friendly foods to get into a habit of just giving kids bits of what you know they will eat rather than having a normal social experience of eating a wider variety of foods. If it is important to your family over the long term that your kid eat something other than baby carrots and goldfish crackers I think it is worth making some effort to have regular family meals.
Well, that wasn't our experience.

We homeschool, ds is around us all the time, so he sees us eating. It's not necessary to eat on a schedule or eat in tandem in order for him to understand there are many foods in the world that others enjoy, and which he might like to try.
post #51 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
I think that a lot of people are suggesting that creating a lot of requirements around mealtime and food issues can create power struggles that may lead to hang ups about food.
yes. Gently encouraging some structure but not having any requirments was the happy medium for us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brendon View Post
My oldest will walk into the kitchen and say "ewww xyz. I don't like xyz." : No, you don't have to eat it. I kind of lost it tonight when I had just asked her what she wanted becuase we were having something she didn't like and she still complained about dinner.
I think that her behavior doesn't have anything to do with eating, but just with manners. Different people like different foods. We needn't comment on things that other people like that we do not. This is just about teaching basic manners, not about controlling food.
post #52 of 80
I think the general consenus here is that you need to find the thing that works for YOUR family. If random eating throughout the day doesn't work for your kids and your family life, than it's not for your family, and that's ok. Set whatever structure is appropriate for YOUR family. I have one kid who would go from dawn to dusk without eating a single bite, and another who eats literally nonstop. I need a "set" time for breakfast, lunch and dinner so my oldest will sit down and eat. My toddler snacks a lot, and I do "restrict" his snacking an hour or so before mealtime so he'll be able to eat what I"ve prepared for that meal (snacking works between meals for him, but he DOES need the substance of a full meal to keep going).

As for me, I'm 8 months pg. I eat nonstop. My hsuband, he's not pregnant, and he also eats nonstop. It's all about what is right for your family.
post #53 of 80
As a few PPs have said, getting a balanced diet is so important and that's hard to do by grazing. It's important to have protein and fiber at every meal and that takes thought ahead of time - ie if I eat some oatmeal at 7am, I should have some protein (cottage cheese, eggs) at 10am.

Last year I was having some weird symptoms like sweating, shaking and dizziness. After consulting with my doctor, I realized my diet was horrible even though I am a healthy weight. I would eat a ton of fruit, yogurt and milk - healthy foods, but loaded with sugar. I avoided cheese and meat because of cholesterol worries. So big blood sugar crashes twice a day like clockwork. A little diet change and I lost 10lbs and feel great.

No kids for me yet, so I don't have advice about meal times. I did enjoy as a kid sitting down for dinner and the whole family discussing our day.
post #54 of 80
Wow. I do feel like there is a sort of anti-mealtime vibe on this thread, which really surprises me. I think the idea of structure is excellent. I also think that mealtimes can be an incredibly civilized and wonderful experience. (ever had a family meal in Italy, where they can literally last for 3 hours?)

My family is of Italian descent actually, and mealtimes have always been a lovely experience on my mom's side. Lots of talking, laughing, being together, and always a wide variety of things to choose from. (My friends laugh at me if I have a dinner party because I always make enough food to feed 20 people!)

I treasure my mealtimes with my son. (He's 4 now.) I'm a working single mother and being able to sit and have breakfast and dinner with him is so important. I guess so much of the rest of our lives are very structured by my work schedule, his school schedule, his visitation with dad schedule, that I can't imagine mealtimes being sort of non-events.

When he was younger he used to get up and run around whenever he wanted, but I always stayed at the table. I guess about a year or two ago he mostly stopped doing that and now he sits with me and we talk, read books, etc. We don't always eat the same thing but most of the time we do. (Luckily he likes salmon, which is really quick to make.)

I have found that even at this age, he starts telling me things at dinner about his life, his day, etc. that never come up at any other time. So far (knock on wood) he really doesn't seem to have any issues with food, has never been super picky, etc.

It's also very important to me that he understands that mealtimes are also relaxing time for me, so even if he finishes before I do and runs off to play (which is the way his meals usually end!), I will stay, and tell him why. Sometimes he protests but I really want him to understand that mealtimes are almost a sacred ritual, something very important that we don't rush through unless we have to (though sometimes we do have to.) And also that Mommy has been running all day! and she just wants to sit and eat a meal without being continually interrupted (even though I usually still am ).

I don't know. I think that very small children need their adults to structure their days. I think that many kids would consent to mealtimes with beginnings, middles and ends if their parents made them that way, and -- I don't think this is a bad idea at all. It really seems strange to me that this is somehow frowned upon here!! I remember having many very nice meals with my parents, especially my mom, even as a teenager.

Snacks: He loves trail mix! so I constantly have a bag of nuts and raisins with me that he can have whenever he wants. If he doesn't want dinner I'll just give him trail mix. I bet 1/3 of his diet is nuts!
post #55 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by aggie11381 View Post
It's important to have protein and fiber at every meal and that takes thought ahead of time - ie if I eat some oatmeal at 7am, I should have some protein (cottage cheese, eggs) at 10am.
Oatmeal is pretty high in protein.

Overall, it's not that hard to balance out food by grazing. There are a few things that you probably want to sit at a table and eat (especially if you're a toddler ) but most things are conducive to snatching a bite here and there, or picking off a tray in the living room. I'll even grab a bowl of yogurt or soup and bring it in the living room and DD and I will carefully share it while we're doing other stuff.
post #56 of 80
We don't have set mealtimes. My daughter grazes all day on whatever she wants - sugar is a battle but other than that we're pretty easygoing around food. I keep lots of foods in the house that she likes and are healthy, most are very easy to prepare, and I just fix her food whenever she wants.
post #57 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
Oh no! I don't think anyone is suggesting that at all. I doubt anyone here would debate that family mealtime is a really nice experience, when everyone is interested and behaving nicely.

Its just that the toddler/preschool age kids have such a hard time with it. I think that a lot of people are suggesting that creating a lot of requirements around mealtime and food issues can create power struggles that may lead to hang ups about food. Its one perspective.

Many of us (me included) were lax about keeping our kids at the table in a chair when they were little, instead just letting them come and go and graze. It was a phase -- my kids sit very nicely at the table now, because they want to and they enjoy it, not because its mandatory.
:

I don't have any problem asking kids to come to the table and be part of the experience. I recognize though that for a 2 or 3 yr old that may only last 3 minutes.

What I have a problem with is people withholding, limiting, setting time limits on or forcing food.

-Angela
post #58 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna View Post
I don't have any problem asking kids to come to the table and be part of the experience. I recognize though that for a 2 or 3 yr old that may only last 3 minutes.
Most toddlers I know, including DS, have no problem sitting at the table for 20-30 minutes and eating dinner. Is it really that unusual? (Edit: I know I'm going to get a rude awakening with my second child and come back here to eat my words. )

Even when DS was tiny he was a part of our mealtime experience. Back then, that may have just meant that he nursed while we ate, then when he got bigger he might sit in my lap and gum small pieces of my food, then he started sitting in his high chair and eating finger foods, and now, at 2.5 he sits down to dinner after he sets the table.

I guess it's not so much that we have "rules" about that as that it's just an expectation, on our part and on DS's part -- he doesn't know any other way and would probably be bewildered and ask me why I forgot about dinner if I gave him snacks while he played rather than having us sit at the table to eat.

For those of you whose kids roam during dinner, do *you* eat at the table? What does your toddler do while you're eating? Or do you eat after they go to bed? Or do you all just kind of graze and never sit down to eat?
post #59 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuller2 View Post
Sometimes he protests but I really want him to understand that mealtimes are almost a sacred ritual, something very important that we don't rush through unless we have to (though sometimes we do have to.)

I don't know. I think that very small children need their adults to structure their days. I think that many kids would consent to mealtimes with beginnings, middles and ends if their parents made them that way, and -- I don't think this is a bad idea at all. It really seems strange to me that this is somehow frowned upon here!! I remember having many very nice meals with my parents, especially my mom, even as a teenager.
ITA with everything you've said here and loved your post. I can imagine as a single mom that those times when you are together with no interruptions is priceless. Good for you for making that a priority!

We sorely lack rituals in our culture and I think the family eating together is such a basic one. Meals have been a social/communal event throughout the ages (even in the animal kingdom, as so many like to make that connection!). I agree that the kind of connection and conversation that can come up at the dinner table is different than in other aspects of our days.

To each their own, of course, but I have always found meals to be a lovely thing to share.
post #60 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post
Most toddlers I know, including DS, have no problem sitting at the table for 20-30 minutes and eating dinner. Is it really that unusual? (Edit: I know I'm going to get a rude awakening with my second child and come back here to eat my words. )

Even when DS was tiny he was a part of our mealtime experience. Back then, that may have just meant that he nursed while we ate, then when he got bigger he might sit in my lap and gum small pieces of my food, then he started sitting in his high chair and eating finger foods, and now, at 2.5 he sits down to dinner after he sets the table.

I guess it's not so much that we have "rules" about that as that it's just an expectation, on our part and on DS's part -- he doesn't know any other way and would probably be bewildered and ask me why I forgot about dinner if I gave him snacks while he played rather than having us sit at the table to eat.
Our kids are the same...sitting at the table has never been boring or a problem for them. My oldest does have a very long attention span, so he might be a bit unusual in that way, but my youngest (now 13 mos) sits with us for the duration of the meal and loves it. We engage with one another and have great conversation. It's a lovely way to end the day especially when my dh has been working and this is our time to really all sit with one another and just be.

It's probably all about past experiences with food/meals for us as parents and the expectations we have for our kids. Dinner as a family has always been an important thing for me and as the pp said, my oldest would probably be quite confused if we didn't all sit down together for meals.
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