Finishing the food that you ask for?? / Throwing away food. - Mothering Forums

Finishing the food that you ask for?? / Throwing away food.

sophmama's Avatar sophmama (TS)
12:46 PM Liked: 0
#1 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 2,347
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Do you think it's a good idea to require kids finish the food that they ask for?

A few points: I'm not in a financial position to throw away a lot of food. Both of my kids will ask for things (foods they're familiar with - not trying something new) and then take a bite and then say they don't want it and want something else. My 3 year old would love to change his mind about what he wants to eat a dozen times a day. I know it's finickiness and normal, but I can't afford to throw away large quantities of food like he'd like to.

I give small quantities so they aren't set up to eat a ton of something - in case they only want a little bit. They get more if they want more.

But what about the refusal to eat what they asked for but say they're still hungry? What do I do? I don't want to set up a big food anxiety thing, but it's not reality that they can ask for and then throw away an endless variety and quantity of food. I know the body craves certain nutrients and thus a specific food but this seems different - almost like it's a form of entertainment to my 3 year old. My 6 year old just doesn't finish what she asked for - goes off to do something else and forgets.

Advice?
rightkindofme's Avatar rightkindofme
01:03 PM Liked: 749
#2 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 4,604
Joined: Apr 2008
My first piece of advice would be to literally only give them two bites of a food at a time if that is at all feasible. Second, I don't force my daughter to eat more if she is full right now, but I put it in the fridge and there is the expectation that she will have it for her next meal. Technically we totally can afford to waste the food but I think that is an outrageous attitude towards food and I just won't tolerate it.

So yeah, this is one where I come down pretty authoritatively. I think this is a hill to die on. Wasting food is a huge button for me. I don't expect a child to eat everything I give them if I am picking portion size, but I will not tolerate eat two bites and throw the rest away.
One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl
01:08 PM Liked: 2767
#3 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 4,668
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I don't require my dd to finish what she asks for, but I do save the food and I do tell her that the food in front of her is what she can have. I have explained to her that we don't have so much money that we can waste our food. I changed from my old policy of letting her eat whatever she wanted when our financial situation changed dramatically. At first she wasn't happy with the policy, but she has adjusted to it and will even sometimes eat something that is absolutely disgusting (like lima beans from the mixed veggie pack) and tell me proudly how she managed. She still quits eating when she is full but the asking for more food right after deciding she didn't like the first food has stopped and so has most of the waste.
plunky's Avatar plunky
01:09 PM Liked: 14
#4 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 672
Joined: Aug 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by sophmama View Post
Do you think it's a good idea to require kids finish the food that they ask for?

A few points: I'm not in a financial position to throw away a lot of food. Both of my kids will ask for things (foods they're familiar with - not trying something new) and then take a bite and then say they don't want it and want something else. My 3 year old would love to change his mind about what he wants to eat a dozen times a day. I know it's finickiness and normal, but I can't afford to throw away large quantities of food like he'd like to.
For once, I think my Dad had the right idea. No one is forced to eat anything, but if you don't eat what's offered make yourself a peanut butter sandwich. Three year olds can't make peanut butter sandwiches maybe, but I'd use that theme for whatever I decided.
InMediasRes
01:13 PM Liked: 32
#5 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 2,567
Joined: May 2009
I also tell my kids that they don't have to finish what they have in front of them, but that's all that's available now and if they're full, we put it away for later. Super small portions are good too. And I try to make him as involved as possible in deciding what to eat so that he feels like he does have some control over it.
Marsupialmom's Avatar Marsupialmom
01:23 PM Liked: 84
#6 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 9,039
Joined: Sep 2003
I have a child that has reflux so we do save food for later --she might be able to eat it later.

We found out many times "I am hungry" means I am thirst, bored, et. Sometimes giving them water and waiting makes them truly hungry.

I think this is a perfect time to talk about money, budget, et and how you have to be responsible with your choices. Eating left overs not asking for things you can eat most of.
sophmama's Avatar sophmama (TS)
01:45 PM Liked: 0
#7 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 2,347
Joined: Sep 2004
My 6 year old can grasp the concept of 'can't afford to waste' and 'waste is a bad thing for the planet'. She handles it pretty well.

The 3 year old can't quite grasp the whole 'waste' concept yet.

The point about boredom is something I haven't thought about.

I've been giving about 4-5 bites. I'll reduce that to 2 for my 3 year old.
ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree
01:53 PM Liked: 1453
#8 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 4,895
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If it was something new that they hadn't tried before, I wouldn't fuss about it at that moment. I'd thank them for trying something new and being adventurous, because I don't want to discourage that attitude.

At a different time, we'd talk about waste, finances and being responsible.

If it was a matter of asking for something familiar, and then changing their mind after a bite, I'd be less sympathetic. I probably wouldn't insist that they eat it then, but I'd likely expect them to finish it later. Anything they substituted at that meal, they'd have to prepare themselves. So for young children, that would mean getting a piece of fruit or some already sliced vegetables or cheese. Older kids could make themselves a sandwich.
tbone_kneegrabber's Avatar tbone_kneegrabber
01:54 PM Liked: 209
#9 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 2,748
Joined: Oct 2007
if its save-able I save it. If ds (not yet 3yo) wants yogurt eats some and doesn't want anymore right now I put it in the fridge until he wants yogurt again. Same with an apple or sandwich. Cereal is the one where I give teeny tiny portions and throw it away if it goes uneaten because it gets so soggy and gross. Most things just get saved for later with a, "okay if you want more yogurt/sandwich/cheese its in the fridge/still on the table etc"
childsplay's Avatar childsplay
02:08 PM Liked: 38
#10 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 433
Joined: Sep 2007
I just give tiny portions, and give them the option to eat more if they're still hungry.

If they don't like (an I mean honestly don't like) what we're having, they're free to make a PB sandwich or a bowl of cereal.

I do the same with my daycare. It's cute, the little guys finish up then carry their plates over to the counter or stove. "More pleeeese!" they say.

I've only really encountered a non eater once - my day care girl- and it drives. me. bonkers. Well she technically does eat. Take out. Candy. Rice Krispie squares. Soda. But give her a bowl of soup, a sandwich, a piece of chicken, rice? Forget it. Whine fest. Seriously one day I got so fed up I grabbed her plate and dumped it off the deck for the crows.....I'm mean, I know, but it was either her or the plate .
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial
02:46 PM Liked: 186
#11 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 4,449
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I guess I wouldn't be too bothered if they didn't eat what they asked for. But, I certainly wouldn't let them have something else.

Our rule is, "If you're hungry, you will eat what you have.... if you don't eat what you have, you aren't hungry".

I also won't let a child eat one thing, then refill on that one thing if they won't eat some of the other food on their plate. Who wouldn't love to eat four peices of butter bread? But, if I have fruit, vegies and protien there, they need to eat some of that too.
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial
02:49 PM Liked: 186
#12 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 4,449
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Quote:
Originally Posted by childsplay View Post
I've only really encountered a non eater once - my day care girl- and it drives. me. bonkers. Well she technically does eat. Take out. Candy. Rice Krispie squares. Soda. But give her a bowl of soup, a sandwich, a piece of chicken, rice? Forget it. Whine fest. Seriously one day I got so fed up I grabbed her plate and dumped it off the deck for the crows.....I'm mean, I know, but it was either her or the plate .
I have a daycare kid who is like this. She will not eat anything but one cookie the whole day because the rest of what I serve is food. She doesn't eat food. They've recently put her on pediasure because we think she's litterally going to starve herself.
ssh's Avatar ssh
03:39 PM Liked: 58
#13 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 1,681
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We don't make food an issue at all. If DD doesn't eat something it usually gets put up and someone will eat it later. We don't care if she asks for something, doesn't finish it and then wants something else. Food is just completely not an issue. Most of our snack items (garbanzo beans, cheese, berries, grapes, apples, tomatoes, leftovers, triscuts, hummus) can't be ruined by someone only having part.
kristin0713's Avatar kristin0713
03:57 PM Liked: 11
#14 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 112
Joined: Aug 2006
I give very small portions, don't ever force them to eat beyond full but I don't give them something different if they didn't eat what they asked for. That is, if I have given them a choice and they clearly picked one thing over another, and then changed their mind--no, I don't give them the other thing before they finish the first.

Now, my 2yo DS is very picky and sometimes I will put several tastes of different things in front of him and he will only eat one thing. I will give him more of that thing if that is all that he will eat. He has a history of reflux and I think that contributed to him being really tentative to try new things. I want to keep exposing him to things, though, so I do often put a variety of foods on his plate. A lot of times, he won't eat anything and I cave in and give him a banana. His food gets thrown out unless one of us finishes it. I'm not talking about a lot of food--usually a few bites of 3-4 foods or so. I do not save his food for the next meal, because he won't eat it later. Writing it out like that, it sounds very wasteful. It really is not a lot of food, though, and I feel strongly about exposing him to lots of foods.
ssh's Avatar ssh
03:58 PM Liked: 58
#15 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 1,681
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post
I guess I wouldn't be too bothered if they didn't eat what they asked for. But, I certainly wouldn't let them have something else.

Our rule is, "If you're hungry, you will eat what you have.... if you don't eat what you have, you aren't hungry".

I also won't let a child eat one thing, then refill on that one thing if they won't eat some of the other food on their plate. Who wouldn't love to eat four peices of butter bread? But, if I have fruit, vegies and protien there, they need to eat some of that too.
Sometimes my 4.5 year old DD only wants one part of a meal, so that's what she has. She often just eats broccoli at dinner or less often just chicken, for example. I figure maybe her body really needs something in the broccoli. Also we don't have things like white bread at dinner. We don't buy bleached grain products.

They've done research and small children will eat a balanced diet if you look at what they eat over a week instead of during one day. We've chosen to let DD self regulate her food intake so she will be listening to her body instead of eating for social reasons. We don't want her to be overweight like DH and I. Both of us had parents who had rules about eating, just the normal cultural ones.
Drummer's Wife's Avatar Drummer's Wife
04:12 PM Liked: 424
#16 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 11,487
Joined: Jun 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
We don't make food an issue at all. If DD doesn't eat something it usually gets put up and someone will eat it later. We don't care if she asks for something, doesn't finish it and then wants something else. Food is just completely not an issue. Most of our snack items (garbanzo beans, cheese, berries, grapes, apples, tomatoes, leftovers, triscuts, hummus) can't be ruined by someone only having part.
pretty much this.
GuildJenn's Avatar GuildJenn
04:25 PM Liked: 108
#17 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 4,517
Joined: Jan 2007
I believe pretty strongly in giving small kids some room to work it out. They are little and testing the world. I consider it my role as the adult to set the limits. So this is how it worked/works with my son:

- small portions like ppl already said

- we let certain snacks, even from a young age, be available most of the time (not always right before meals) - namely Cheerios (packaged by me into a smaller container) and a snack bowl in the fridge with some cucumber, carrot, etc. (sliced non-chokable). I would just throw any leftovers the next day in a salad for me or for us.

- for asked-for snacks I would usually put up with one other choice, but that was it. It's really not my job to provide something of everything every time. I would say mildly, "well you chose the X; you can have the Y for your next snack."

- we did waste or repurpose fruit like bananas or apples, but we pretty much just got into the habit of having fruit for dessert

- for meals the meal is the meal and we had one alternative (PB on bread, or cheese and crackers, that kind of thing - easy and quick). The alternative pretty much stayed the same for months so it was "you can have what's served or you can have Z." But we pretty much always have a raw veggie tray along with the meal and bread is okay to ask for.

If cost is really stressing you out, one thing you could look at is your cost per snack. For example we've found bread, especially our own breadmaker bread, to be a more economical and in some cases healthier snack than crackers - that kind of thing. Frozen peas was always a favourite when my son was younger and they were really cheap (and could be tossed into a salad too). We make our own hummus.

Anyways that's how we approached it. There was some wastage but I consider it less expensive than the amount of time, energy, and in some cases cash I've spent on trying to get over the "clear your plate even if you're full" mentality on which I was raised. However, I know it is a luxury in my budget to be able to say that.
MusicianDad's Avatar MusicianDad
06:01 PM Liked: 371
#18 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 8,928
Joined: Jun 2008
Another person here who saves the left overs. The next time that particular food item is asked for, it comes out again. We actually waste very little food. Most things are completely eaten before they go bad by someone in the house. Much of the time, they are gone by days end.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka
06:37 PM Liked: 91
#19 of 19
06-04-2010 | Posts: 17,896
Joined: Nov 2001
If they decide they are not hungry that is fine but I wouldn't let them move on to something else until they had finished what they made. We cannot afford on any level (financially or morally) to waste food.

Also our snack options are pretty limited. My kids are rarely able to ask for something specific for a snack. They say they are hungry, ask for a snack and I say we have this or this which do you want. So it isn't like they really can say they want opne thing, take two bites, then pick another. if they did there would be no snack for tomorrow....
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