What do you think about food rules for kids? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 40 Old 02-18-2008, 04:44 PM
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My oldest is 9 and now that we have 4, I had to rethink all this recently. I used to try and cook things they liked, but they are quite fussy and it eventually all got too much for me. Now I just cook one meal and that's what there is. If they don't eat it then there's nothing else. Actually, even if they do eat it there's nothing else!

They used to get yoghurts as desserts but it got too complicated trying to figure out how much of the meal was "enough" to "earn" a yoghurt. So now if they are still hungry after eating a proper amount of food they can have fruit.

At snack times they also have to eat a piece of fruit before they can have something else - usually bread and jam or something basic.

We only have sweet things on the weekends and I cut right back on that because I was finding it difficult to limit them. Now they have their fruit at snack times and then they can have a couple of squares of chocolate. Of course, there are special occasions and visitors and stuff, but to be honest it makes them a lot more special if the stuff you eat isn't just everyday stuff!

And once you start thinking you can make some healthy things into treats too.

For meals, they don't have to eat anything or any amount, though I do try and encourage my older two to have a little of everything. I guess my main rule is NO COMPLAINTS! If I've just worked hard to produce a nice meal for everyone, I don't want to hear people moaning about how they don't like it. If they don't want to eat it, it's no big deal, but I don't want to hear it.

I think how you work on it depends partly on whether you have good eaters or not, but I think that also depends on how you treat them when they DON'T eat. I think I messed around for too many years trying to produce things they would all like and now one only likes pasta and not a lot else.... So I'm hoping it goes better with #4!

- I do make the odd exception if I want to cook something that I know that all the kids really don't like and then I'll do them something a bit different, but basically I had enough of cooking 3 differents meals each night and I think that's a bad habit to get into...

arcenciel WAHM to 14 and 13yo DS, 9 and 5yo DD

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#32 of 40 Old 02-18-2008, 05:00 PM
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Forgot to add - someone mentioned kids having lots of candy and not liking to throw it away. I felt a bit like that too but a friend with a highly sensitive dd said what she does at Halloween is to "buy" the candy from her dd. So the daughter feels like she still got something nice and didn't just LOSE her candy but she doesn't actually eat it all. She gets to eat a couple of bits.... I thought that was a pretty good idea for other times when relatives go OTT.

arcenciel WAHM to 14 and 13yo DS, 9 and 5yo DD

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#33 of 40 Old 02-18-2008, 11:18 PM
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Talk about timing - I actually came to this forum thinking about starting a similar thread. I am still trying to figure out what would be best for us. My boys are almost 3, and 19 months, and I am expecting #3 in October. I grew up with the "clean your plate" rule, and also very structured eating times (we had a 10am and a 2pm snack, in addition to 3 meals a day, and dessert after dinner). I have struggled with obesity my entire adult life, and don't know if it has anything to do with how I was raised to eat, if that makes sense.

I believe that children will learn to follow their own bodies and eat what they need provided they are presented with healthy options, and don't have a lot of artificial junk getting in the way. So as of now we really don't have any food rules, they are allowed to eat when and what they want. We have a fruit bowl that they can reach, as well as a drawer in the fridge full of organic yogurt, cheeses, and more fruit. There is also a snack basket with pretzels, raisins, Goldfish, and whatever other dry snacks we happen to have. So this is what they snack on 95% of the time. I am finding it difficult lately though. It sometimes seems like all they do is snack, and then they aren't hungry when meal time comes, which is frustrating, and makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing. There are also times when they will eat 3 yogurts in a sitting, or 3 pieces of cheese, etc. In my mind, I am thinking its healthy stuff, so no problem. But there is also a part of me that is thinking its not good for them.

Nurtition is definitely the biggest "need for improvement" in my mind with regards to my parenting. It was just not something I ever thought about before. I did not grow up eating all natural, and certainly not all organic. I never gave a though to additives, dyes, HFCS, or any of the rest of it. So, clearly I am of no help to the OP I am even more lost than you are -sorry!

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#34 of 40 Old 02-18-2008, 11:45 PM
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With ds whose about to be four, we limit his sweets somewhat we don't keep much in the house. He does have to eat some of his dinner , otherwise he would just eat junk some days and then complain of being hungry later. We only make him an alternative if he really dislikes something,,for example chili, he really does not like beans, we always make him try a bite, but after that he's allowed to have a pbj, if he desires. We really don't make much he doesn't like so i don't feel to horrible about this. Of course if he didn't like anything i made, i would not be making him a seperate meal.

If we make something new, he has to at least try it before saying he doesn't like it.

He tends to only be obsessed with the sweets after visits with mil, so for a few days afterward we tend to be stricter than normal. He can only have something sweet if he eats something healthy type deal. But after a few days of detox, he's back to normal. Then he can have a treat most times he asks, which isn't too much. And if we have somthing he is allowed also.

Before he was three though, he was not allowed sweets at all except for on his bdays, he never noticed or cared though until then. We also regularly made him different meals than the ones we ate.

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#35 of 40 Old 02-19-2008, 12:36 AM
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This is a tough one for me. I grew up loving food, having some pretty 'normal' rules (you need to eat it all most of the time, snacks are ok, but we eat at these times, together) and I eat a variety of food and have never had any issues. My dh on the other hand is obscenly picky with a terrible diet- mostly processed foods- and I try my best to cook healthy for him, while a variety for me.
So I want my kids to be like me, but I don't want to make a big deal about it. I cook- always try to cook what we all will eat with the best nutrition in mind, and I insist my ds (3) try a new food once before he decides, and if he doesn't like it he doens't have to eat it. And we eat together, with no tv or books. That's about it. By insisting I mean that he knows it's a 'rule' and that's that. So far it's ok.

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#36 of 40 Old 02-19-2008, 03:04 AM
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This really only applies to dinner because it's the only 'sit down' meal we have. Just 2 rules really~ NO complaining and try everything on your plate. If you like it great! If not feel free to spit it out discreetly but I worked hard to buy it and prepare it so absolutely no telling me at length how gross and awful it tastes or smells. "no thanks" or "I don't care for that" will get the message across.

I do make substitutions for dd because she recently decided not to eat meat and the rest of us do (except dh but his diet is way too heavy on the meatfree-but-still-crap packaged stuff) so I'll put some other protein in hers.
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#37 of 40 Old 02-19-2008, 07:19 AM
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I am having a terrible, terrible time with this lately. I don't really keep sweets in the house, so that really isn't an issue. But dd is close to impossible with her eating habits. She'll tell me that she wants something, but after I make it, refuse to eat it. Or decide that she wants something else. Then have a huge meltdown if I don't make that. Either way, the original food I made is not going to get eaten (this may be something that I spent lots of time making, or something as simple as a banana-- but I'm so tired of wasting bananas and such). She also always wants to eat about the same 2 or 3 things, all the time. And even then, sometimes when she demands one of THOSE things, she won't eat it. She never likes the same foods. I can't count on her eating any one thing when I make it, but she *usually* wants toast or a banana. She's been known to eat 3 bananas in a short time. Or 2 pieces of toast. I feel awful that she's eating a bunch of the same thing, but she will literally refuse to eat anything else. And if I don't oblige... if I try and offer her something else... it's meltdown city, baby. Then nothing is getting eaten. I guess I should really be hiding things in her food to make sure she's getting all the nutrients she needs. I don't particularly like the idea behind that, though.

I try to make things interesting, explain everything I can (why it's important to eat a variety of foods, etc), eliminate distractions when eating, be consistent, and so on... but none of it seems to make a difference.

When it comes down to it, I can't *make her* do anything, and I really don't want to even be trying to do that. Rules in that sense are laughable. I can make up a rule that she has to try a piece of food, but in reality, she doesn't. If she doesn't want to, she won't. So there's really no point. I can't remove toast from our house, like I do with sweets, so she has to have something else... because DP really, really likes his bread. She would just become fixated with something else, anyway, and eat a ton of that.

Edit: In re-reading my post I realised that I am almost exactly the same way. I mean, I already knew that I'm picky, but just the way that she does it is very similar to me. I often get stuck on the same foods, and everything else sounds terrrrrible. I'm very VERY moody about my food. So I guess I just need to keep working on my patience with this issue with dd, because I really do understand what that's like, and it sucks. Writing that out was good perspective for me. However, I'm still concerned about getting her nutrients and vitamins. I think i'll concentrate more on that and less about what to do specifically with her.

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#38 of 40 Old 02-19-2008, 01:14 PM
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The main rule here for at the table eating is if you are 3 years old, you must try one bite of everything. Once you are 3.5 or more, it's one bite per year of age of each item on your plate. We figure that gives them enough of a chance to really see if they like something or not. Otherwise they'd stick their tongue on the food and call it a bite, lol. If there is gagging and puking involved, then they don't have to take another *at this meal*, but they must try it again next time.

The reason this starts at 3 in this house is because I'm always still breastfeeding so we don't worry about babe's nutrition as much. If I were to wean my current nursling for some reason before the age of 3 (we normally wean around 3.5), the rule would change accordingly.

For breakfast, they are on their own, but we always have fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, healthier cereals, organic pb/j, multigrain bread for toast, etc....

Lunch, if I don't make it, they are on their own, same choices as for breakfast. They are probably on their own for lunch 2 times a week.

Snacks...same choices as above, free range, unless I am cooking supper and they are hunting for food, lol.

We do not keep alot of unhealthy items in the house, but when we do buy something junky, they are allowed to eat it, but w/in reason, and they are very good about it.

There have been several occasions where my kids have been at someone else's house and they were offered realllllllly sugary cereals, etc. for breakfast and they requested cheerios. Makes me so proud! They also regularly turn down soda/juice/koolaid offers and want water instead. They know that is what will really quench their thirst.

We have a huge garden and lots of fresh eggs, so they get to help w/their food from all angles. That really helps them appreciate it more, I think.

Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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#39 of 40 Old 02-19-2008, 01:37 PM
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I've felt most comfortable encouraging rather than having any specific rules. My kids joke that I keep changing the number of times some people have to be offered a food before they try it. "Mom, I htought you said that it takes about 10 times to feel comfortable with something new. Now you're saying 50?!"

It's frustrating to be rejected on such a level-- you've created soemthing to nourish your family. Of course, you offer something you know they like, you encourage them to help, you encourage them to let you know what they like etc. Sometimes that changes for kids. They do keep you guessing at times. Why would they want a yogurt when you've gone to the trouble of making a super- healthy meal?

It's great when adults are open about food, too trying new things, and being kind to each over what is presented etc. People give pieces of themselves sometimes when they cook. It can be very personl. But little kids looking at food that they are not sure about aren;'t rejecting a person when they gasp at the strange food on their plates...they are just ...well...responding out loud...venting. lol That gets better as they get older.

As for junk food...well...I am not a stickler. The kids eat well and are healthy. We are not dealing wiht food allergies or behavior issues. My family pretty much can eat whatever they want, even though I don't buy a lot of chemical foods. We have a garden, we try to eat locally and in season, we raise organic chickens. We talk a lot about the earth, it's care etc. We don't visit chain restaurants (well, the occasional stop on a long road trip if we can't find anything else...then a few french fries beats a meltdown) etc. But I also don't make moral judgements about a kid wanting Doritos at a friends house, or asking for a bag of m & Ms when shopping at the market. Rather than deny, I encourgae and share my thoughts about food. But I do not want my kids feeling guilty or worried about whether they want a cupcake with sprinkles.
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#40 of 40 Old 02-19-2008, 04:29 PM
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ftr, my kids are 3 and 5 (x2).

The kids get to choose their own breakfasts and lunches within reason... for breakfast they know what their choices are (yogurt, eggs, cereal, etc) as opposed to say chocolate cake. lol For lunch, I ask them to talk and decide on one kind of sandwich so they'll all agree on say grilled cheese or PB&J or whatever and then they get to pick their fruit or veggies/dip etc. Sometimes I don't give them an option if I need to get them fed and out the door and we'll all have cereal or whatever, but usually they get to choose from some set options we always have around.

Re: snacks, they have "their drawer" in the fridge filled with healthy snacks that they can help themselves to anytime they are hungry EXCEPT within 30 minutes before dinner just so they don't spoil their appetites. It currently contains mini cottage cheese cups, cheese sticks, hardboiled eggs, clementines, carrot sticks, and apples.

But for dinner, I prepare one healthy, nutritious and (usually, lol) delicious meal. Everyone gets to decide if they want to eat or not. But we absolutely do not prepare alternative meals unless someone is sick. It is totally and completely against a lot of our values to do so.

Hmmm.... other than that.... we eat meals at the table. They ask to be excused before they get down and clear their own plates. For dinner, we don't start eating until everyone is at the table and we've said Grace. They don't play with their food obviously. Of course they don't have to eat if they're not hungry but we like them to join us at the table for Grace and then stay for at least as many minutes as they are old so we can visit with them and enjoy family mealtime. We never say "eww gross" or anything like that if we don't prefer a food. Again, each of these things is directly hitting our family's core values on multiple levels.

For our part, we prepare foods the family enjoys. When we introduce new foods that may or may not go over so great we have a couple of favorite sides to go along with it. In other words, it is very rare (if ever?) that we sit down and hate everything on our plate. We generally take "no thank you portions" of all foods at the table, even if we don't love it - just a couple of peas for example or a small dollop of mashed potatoes. We try to encourage them to take a taste and try new things but without being annoying about it, lol. Meals are generally planned pretty well and served on time so that no one is desperately starving while I'm frantically dashing around the kitchen. This is really key. We are flexible when someone is sick or there is some other circumstance such as having a friend over or wanting to play "picnic for dinner" in the living room. And when we're guests in other people's houses, we follow their lead and go with the flow.
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