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#1 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What are the food rules in your house? I'd rather not start a huge debate and I know this issues becomes hot fast. I just was looking for an idea of how other families work in relation to food, if it's working for you and why you have it that way.

We seem to be having food issues at our house starting up again and am trying to figure out how to balance it.

Specifics as to dessert or sugar limitation would be helpful, too. I was raised where a meal was often a Snickers and a coke and was terribly unhealthy and wished we had "real" meals. I still like sugar but really fight with this even as an adult. Now my two youngest kids eat too much sugar to where that's almost all they will eat. Literally. And both are dreadfully and dangerously (one of them) underweight for what we can't figure out whether is a sugar addiction or allergies.

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#2 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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Three meals and two snacks every day. As close to the same time every day as possible.

Fruit and crackers available anytime.
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#3 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:01 PM
 
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No complaining.

You have to try everything; you don't have to finish it.

If you don't like what's on the table, you can have an apple.

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#4 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:04 PM
 
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I prepare foods when the kids say they're hungry and they usually get to choose what they want to eat. Sometimes I just prepare something and we all eat it. A lot of times I make separate meals. Some of us have food allergies and not everybody is restricted to no dairy/eggs so that is taken into account as well. There are limitless snacks here. We often get treat-type foods as well. I will usually make sure someone has eaten a meal before they get the treat-type stuff (rice ice cream, chips, cookies).

This works really well for our family. We have a five year old, a three year old, and a two month old.

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#5 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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3 meals a day with limitless healthy snacks. Sugary snacks only After a meal. If you don't like it, too bad, unless I know it's something that is truelly not liked. But none of the "it doesn't look good" stuff here.

Maybe an idea for weaning your kids off the sugar and back to the healthy foods are to go slow and sub in organic sweets (organic m&ms, fruit snacks, etc) then sub in things like raisins, fruit with cool whip on top, until you're to a place where it's just fruit. We do a lot of dips. So, all fresh vegies get ranch dip. If they ask for ketchup, they get it, limited and we buy the kind without corn syrup, etc. They seem to enjoy dipping. And, I don't care if they dip broccoli in mustard (dd2 did) or whatever as long as it's healthy and getting them to eat the vegies & fruit! Another idea is smoothies and cutting fresh stuff into fun shapes. I have one of those cutters that makes the ridged edges on food. They like that here.

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#6 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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We do three meals a day plus snacks as needed. DD is allowed smaller portions [obviously] but we try to have her eat a lot of fruits, whole foods etc. She's also allowed sweets and treats in moderation! We make a lot of our own treats [muffins, cupcakes] and so I know what's going in them..but I also don't say no if she wants a Kit Kat or something. She just can't have 10

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#7 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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We don't have any real rules around food other than "it is the parents job to provide healthy meals and snacks and its the child job to eat or not as they see fit".

My own personal rule is not to bring into the house that I wouldn't "allow" my child to eat. Doing so means he can eat whatever he wants in the house. There are no off limit foods.

Another personal rule is not to sweat the small stuff when we are out and about. If he eats junk at a friends, buys a snowball (ugh!) with his own money or a relative takes him to McD's after the movie I don't freak out.

Food is so not worth the power struggle to me.

edited to add that I agree with pathiu-no complaining! If you don't like something just say " no thank, I don't care for that" no gagging noises or rude comments. (even thought it was really hard for me when he chose to buy a halloween snoball the other day!)
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#8 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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I make the meals and other than that dd is welcome to eat as much raw fruits and vegetables as she wants. We barely eat any processed foods, and that includes candy, so it's not much in the house. When it is in the house, one treat a day is the "rule". Usually, I have "healthy fruit bars" (frozen pureed fruit, sometimes with cream or yogurt in them, usually not) on-hand and dd will have one of those every day for a "treat". We don't eat dessert, so that's not really an issue. If I have baked something (about once a month), it's not all usually eaten and ends up getting stale (and given the the neighbor dog). Dd just usually forgets that they're there and doesn't eat them after the first couple of days.

We raised dd here in the US and abroad and she has a wide range of tastes and is not picky at all. I don't have any problems with her eating too much sweets and not enough healthy, home-cooked food. We've had a few discussions about fueling our bodies. She's 8.
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#9 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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We do 3 meals, 2 snacks, "healthy" dessert (fruit, homemade low sugar ice cream, dates, yogurt, ect). What is served is what there is to eat. I don't cater, but I consider everyone's tastes and try to have something that I know dd will eat. Dd can eat as much or as little as she wants as long as everyone else has what they want. We don't have things that aren't food in our home and that includes sugar, soda or junk food, we do have "treats" like fresh seasonal fruit, dates, nuts, rice pudding, fruit crisps, homemade ice cream and baked goods made with honey, stevia, or maple syrup, usually about 1/2 the amount that the recipe calls for. My dd is gluten, dairy, egg, and soy intolerant and she does very poorly if she eats things that aren't food with artificial colors or flavorings, MSG, preservatives, etc. I do not want to fight over them so we don't have them in the house.

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#10 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:05 PM
 
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We don't have any rules, we are just happy if they eat. Well, DD2 is really funny about food and has IBS etc and having had very strict parents who were horrible when it came to food, I developed food issues and don't want to do the same to the kids so I just make the whole thing as relaxed as possible, everyone gets input generally about what we have to eat, I vary the meals depending on who likes what and who doesn't. I think the only thing we do have rules about is sweets and thats it and its simply 'you can have 2 or 3 but thats it'.
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#11 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post
We don't have any real rules around food other than "it is the parents job to provide healthy meals and snacks and its the child job to eat or not as they see fit".

My own personal rule is not to bring into the house that I wouldn't "allow" my child to eat. Doing so means he can eat whatever he wants in the house. There are no off limit foods.

Another personal rule is not to sweat the small stuff when we are out and about. If he eats junk at a friends, buys a snowball (ugh!) with his own money or a relative takes him to McD's after the movie I don't freak out.

Food is so not worth the power struggle to me.
This describes us, as well.

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#12 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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3 meals and limitless healthy snacks (carrot sticks, pickles etc). Sweets are only on special occasions. You have to try everything on your plate before getting seconds of anything, but you don't have to eat everthing on your plate, just try it. If you don't like anything, you can have pb&j. We gave up the food battle after the oldest went through his picky phase, we realized quickly it was just a phase. Our 4 yr. old is going through a "no food touching" phase and so won't eat salads, but if we seperate his tomatoes from his lettuce, from his cucumbers etc. he'll eat each individual item even though 6 months ago he'd eat a salad. He is also refusing dressing because that constitutes "touching". LOL. It's funny to see the stages they go through.

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#13 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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We don't have many rules other than dinner is what it is and you have to try it. No "gross, ew, yuck, I won't eat that" type comments.

Breakfast and lunch are up to them mostly. Same with snacks. We don't really limit any food other than out and out junk. Dinner I do cook but there's always something included that everyone likes.
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#14 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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If you feed the dog, you're done.

If you throw food you're done.

You don't have to eat a full portion of everything, but you need to try at least one bite unless I know you don't like it.

If you don't eat dinner/lunch/whatever meal, fine. But when you are hungry I'm just reheating that or you're getting some thing grab and go (like and apple or piece of bread).


You can have one serving of junk food at a time. There is no way you're going to eat 6 pieces of cake in one sitting. (Although thsi has never come up, DD will reject cake for an apple which is completely weird to me b/c I could eat a whole cake in one sitting.)

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#15 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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One thing we do is limit the amount of sweet stuff that we bring into the house, and usually go with the "healthier" option (organic, fruit-sweetened, homemade, etc). We never have any candy, chocolate bars, soda, etc. (besides now, because of Halloween). That really cuts down on the "sweets battle". It's easier to say yes than no, and if the "worst" sweet you have in the house is dried fruit or fruit yogourt then it's not too hard to say yes.

Besides that I also try to bring snacks out at the first hint of hunger from either of the kids. I'll make a snack tray with veggies and dip, nuts, cheese, crackers, berries, etc for them to fill up on, instead of waiting till they get ravenous which makes them a) turn into monsters, and b) crave sugar like crazy (hey, I react the same way myself!).

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#16 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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We don't bring sugar into the home at all. I don't eat any but will occasionally cook with natural sweeteners (agave nectar/real maple syrup/honey) but since I definitely don't have the energy to do that every day we don't have desserts everyday. We do make fruit smoothies often, though, when we want something quick and sweet.

Otherwise, we try to eat fairly healthy and DD rarely gets junk food options (ok, mac and cheese is one exception) but she seems happy with what we offer. We don't place an entire ban on junkfood away from home. We'll let her have a bite of sugar if we're out (but it would have to come from DH since I don't eat it). She's young, though, so it's still in the easy to control stage.
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#17 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:26 PM
 
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All food is consumed at the table or in the back yard. With four kids, I need food mess to be contained to one area.

You eat the food you have before you get more food.

You don't have to clean your plate, but I don't want to talk at length about what you aren't going to eat and what you don't like. No complaining.

Good food must go into your stomach first before you can have treat food.

Your body needs protein. You must have some protein ever day. Similarly, you cannot eat only carbohydrates.

I do control snacks to some extent. This is for two reasons :
1. otherwise I would do nothing all day except prepare snacks.
2. our second DD is very thin, and she will use snacks to take the edge off her hunger and never really eat.

We tend to keep junk out of the house, and not worry about the odd crap food day outside the house.

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#18 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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The only "rule" is that food stays in the kitchen or dining room. Water and special events like tree decorating snacks or holiday candy are exceptions.
The days tend to follow the same pattern, small self-serve snack like yogurt or cheese at 7 am with more breakfast at 9 am. Sometimes a mid morning snack but that isn't as critical now that my kids are 5 and 3. I usually offer fruit but if they ask for something else that is fine. Lunch is around noon and includes fruit and veg side dishes. Most days they eat breakfast and lunch really well. They both usually ask for a snack around 3. Most days those tend to be the packaged stuff like animal crackers, goldfish, etc. because my children are in afternoon preschool classes. While I am making dinner, I offer a "snack" to them that is usually part of dinner. Then we eat as a family around 6-6:30. I ask them to try a bite of each food, but doesn't always work for my dd. We just let it go. I do think she is more open to trying new foods at lunchtime.
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#19 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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There's a great blog called Family Feeding Dynamics. I tend to not discuss our household practices, as I have a history of disordered eating and can be very defensive about our specific habits.
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#20 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:47 PM
 
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Here the kids kind of graze through out the day and we usually have breakfast and lunch.

Dinner time you have to try one bite of what's on your plate and if you don't like it you can leave it but Mama is off duty after dinner, so if you want something else to eat it will have to be something you can get yourself.

We don't really limit sugar. I don't buy biscuits etc. We don't keep fizzy drink in the house either. Sometimes if we stop at the shop on the way home I'll get a little bag of mixed lollies for them and I do buy the odd cake or pack of biscuits or chips for a treat but they're not regularly in our house.

Sometimes we have pudding, but usually we don't.

If there are sweet things there then the kids can eat as much as they like, when they like but once they're gone, they're gone.

It's complicated.
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#21 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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Our rules:
- If you finish the last of something, put it on the list (or tell someone who can write) and put the container where it belongs (in the sink or in the recycling).
- If something has a pink sticky on it, it means we're using it in a recipe and you're not to eat it.
- Don't take your siblings' stuff without asking.

That's it. We don't have food rules, basically, just courtesy things. All human beings (save those with actual disorders) instinctively know what their body needs, and will eat according to those needs given availability of variety. We wouldn't have survived as a species if we did not know these basic things, like every other species on earth does. Human beings do not naturally refuse vegetables (or fruit, or grains, or sugar for that matter, we need it all), just like we don't naturally refuse sleeping or moving. Those things have to be taught, and most peoples' problems with food (sleep, exercise) stem from being taught the wrong thing, usually with the best of intentions, but the lesson they learn is hatred and stubborn avoidance of things we are naturally programmed to do/consume. They're taught vegetables are negative because they're forced to eat it while in tears, and that sugar is SUPER valuable because of all the hoops they're made to jump through to get it, or how rare it is.
We don't want to teach those lessons. All food is fair game in our house. We let their bodies guide them, not arbitrary rules and neuroses or a preconceived notion of what family meals are supposed to be like. None of them have food issues, all eat a wide variety.

Family meals in our house look something like this: Usually a few (and not the same few, it's revolving), but sometimes all of the kids or sometimes none of them, eat with mum and dad. The others might wander in and eat at their leisure, take it off somewhere else, ask for/make something entirely different, or eat later when they're hungry. What doesn't get eaten goes into the fridge for leftovers until lunch the next day, at which point it's dog or pig food.
Family meals are happy, full of laughter and craziness, and peaceful. No kids cry as they're forced to eat just one bite (or worse, a whole serving) of something that triggers their gag reflex, no parents yell. No one makes forced smalltalk about their day or stares out the window because they have to sit somewhere they don't want to be just to eat.
I can't think of a better family meal.

Everyone eats. Everyone eats well and appropriately for what their body tells them it needs. Everyone is happy and healthy. And not one of them will grow up remembering family dinners as a source of anxiety, dread, tension or sadness.
Mission accomplished.
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#22 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
What are the food rules in your house? I'd rather not start a huge debate and I know this issues becomes hot fast. I just was looking for an idea of how other families work in relation to food, if it's working for you and why you have it that way.

We seem to be having food issues at our house starting up again and am trying to figure out how to balance it.

Specifics as to dessert or sugar limitation would be helpful, too. I was raised where a meal was often a Snickers and a coke and was terribly unhealthy and wished we had "real" meals. I still like sugar but really fight with this even as an adult. Now my two youngest kids eat too much sugar to where that's almost all they will eat. Literally. And both are dreadfully and dangerously (one of them) underweight for what we can't figure out whether is a sugar addiction or allergies.
#1 If you don't finish your food, put away the leftovers and the next time you're hungry, at least eat part of it along with whatever else you feel like eating.

#2 No sugar first thing in the morning. Sweets and treats are after a meal, not before.

#3 No eating or drinking in bedroom, bathroom, or hallway. All food stays in kitchen/dining/living room where the linoleum is.

#4 If you make a food mess, clean up.

#5 Once dinner has been served, I'm done cooking and if you're still hungry, eat the leftovers or something else you can grab by yourself that requires no cooking.

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#23 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 06:08 PM
 
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Three healthy, home-cooked meals per/day plus healthy snacks.

Dessert on Fridays.

Eat at the table or (snacks) outside.

If you don't like what I'm cooking, you can have bread and hummus. Either eat the food or don't, but don't talk about it (unless it's too compliment the chef).

Cereal every other morning. Oatmeal every other morning. French toast Sunday morning.
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#24 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 06:09 PM
 
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Here the kids kind of graze through out the day and we usually have breakfast and lunch.

Dinner time you have to try one bite of what's on your plate and if you don't like it you can leave it but Mama is off duty after dinner, so if you want something else to eat it will have to be something you can get yourself.

We don't really limit sugar. I don't buy biscuits etc. We don't keep fizzy drink in the house either. Sometimes if we stop at the shop on the way home I'll get a little bag of mixed lollies for them and I do buy the odd cake or pack of biscuits or chips for a treat but they're not regularly in our house.
This is us, and typically we have 1 bedtime snack which is eating while we read stories - it varies from a graham cracker to carrots to apples w/pb.

No thank you bites are nice to encourage timid eaters, and if our kids are raising a big stink, it ends up being a very very very small bite they can take.

If we have any cookies - its usually nilla wafers and that's about it in the house.

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#25 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 06:45 PM
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We don't have any real rules around food other than "it is the parents job to provide healthy meals and snacks and its the child job to eat or not as they see fit".

My own personal rule is not to bring into the house that I wouldn't "allow" my child to eat. Doing so means he can eat whatever he wants in the house. There are no off limit foods.

Another personal rule is not to sweat the small stuff when we are out and about. If he eats junk at a friends, buys a snowball (ugh!) with his own money or a relative takes him to McD's after the movie I don't freak out.

Food is so not worth the power struggle to me.

edited to add that I agree with pathiu-no complaining! If you don't like something just say " no thank, I don't care for that" no gagging noises or rude comments. (even thought it was really hard for me when he chose to buy a halloween snoball the other day!)
Mostly this.
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#26 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 07:40 PM
 
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3 meals and an after school snack. eat at the table. No whining. if there is dessert (rarely) you had to make a good effort at your meal. We have a one serving of bread rule because kids are total carb addicts and would eat that to the exclusion of everything else. You have to eat everything before have seconds. The only thing you may skip entirely is meat but we rarely eat meat.

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#27 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 08:42 PM
 
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We don't have any real rules around food other than "it is the parents job to provide healthy meals and snacks and its the child job to eat or not as they see fit".

My own personal rule is not to bring into the house that I wouldn't "allow" my child to eat. Doing so means he can eat whatever he wants in the house. There are no off limit foods.

Another personal rule is not to sweat the small stuff when we are out and about. If he eats junk at a friends, buys a snowball (ugh!) with his own money or a relative takes him to McD's after the movie I don't freak out.

Food is so not worth the power struggle to me.

edited to add that I agree with pathiu-no complaining! If you don't like something just say " no thank, I don't care for that" no gagging noises or rude comments. (even thought it was really hard for me when he chose to buy a halloween snoball the other day!)
This is also how we operate.

lather, rinse, repeat
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#28 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 09:05 PM
 
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We have the same values for our kids when it comes to eating... but sometimes they have be parented differently when it comes to eating.

When DD was little there was no exposure to sweets/processed food so she had no idea and grew up not caring about it. Since about 3 I've been pretty relaxed (I think) and we rarely have that stuff at home and when she wants it she can have it. It helps that her dad and school have similar approaches.

My DSS was raised on processed foods and with treats as rewards. My exposure to what it has done to him makes me think it's a really bad method. When he moved into our home the would apples and carrots.... that was the only fresh thing. He refused all whole grains, the majority of fruits and veggies... he was barely surviving on wheat and cheese. He has some other issues complicating his eating, but it was mostly the early eating habits. So, with him we had to be much clearer and firmer (where with DD it could be a conversation). It has taken three years to teach him to eat a meal that is served without complaining and in less than 60-90 minutes.

For those who think we've been creating a negative experience of food with him- we have done these things with GD, lots of patience, and explaining. I agree with the pp who spoke to the innate knowing about foods, however, that system can be overridden early in life (which is what happen to DSS), and when it does it is a lot of work to try to reset it.

In general:
stock what we are OK with everyone eating
kids can self serve fruit or other things of they ask
most meals have a protein and something fresh
no complaining
we talk about good eating (nutrition, ecology etc) at meals
treats are occasional, and not a reward for eating well
we are relaxed about holidays and when at someone elses house

My DD is 9 and she makes dinner for the family one night a week- we started that this school year and it has been a really enjoyable time for teaching and spending time together.

Mama to DD-9, DSS-11, happily married and living with 1dog, 1 cat, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks....expecting 03/11
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#29 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 09:12 PM
 
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Hmm. We haven't had many big food issues. I'm often amazed by how well DD eats - she happily chows down on spinach and things, which I've only recently gotten myself to like. But, insofar as we have rules, they're along these lines:

"X more bites or no dessert" if she's balking at food - usually it's not because she dislikes it, but because she's distracted if we're watching a movie while we eat (yes, we do that...). She complies with this pretty happily.

We don't often have juice (except she sometimes has prune juice for, ah, medicinal reasons) - but if we have juice or if she shares my morning sickness ginger beer, I water hers down a bit. I do draw the line at Coke, and other soft drinks 99% of the time. Not sure why I consider Coke more evil than, say, Sprite, but I do. So there.

We limit chips (crisps), chocolate and sweets, because she'd eat them all day if she were allowed. She does sometimes get a chocolate as a reward for going to the potty or whatever. DH is a chocolate FIEND, so I don't feel it's fair to make it a complete no-no for DD.

No food after she's brushed her teeth. Which would be obvious, but you know how tooth-brushing usually makes people not want food, because it'll taste all minty and gross? Yeah, well, for DD it works like an appetiser. She'll trot out of the bathroom at night and be all "Right, now, what can I eat?". Very odd.

Other than that, nothing springs to mind! She's allowed snacks pretty much at will (or at Mother's ability and inclination to heave herself off the couch and get them) - usually cheese, sometimes Vegemite off a spoon (another morning sickness habit of mine she picked up!), and occasionally if she's "wery wery hungry" I'll fry her an eggy. In fact, being pregnant, I'll fry two and join her.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

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#30 of 77 Old 11-01-2010, 09:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post
We don't have any real rules around food other than "it is the parents job to provide healthy meals and snacks and its the child job to eat or not as they see fit".

My own personal rule is not to bring into the house that I wouldn't "allow" my child to eat. Doing so means he can eat whatever he wants in the house. There are no off limit foods.

Another personal rule is not to sweat the small stuff when we are out and about. If he eats junk at a friends, buys a snowball (ugh!) with his own money or a relative takes him to McD's after the movie I don't freak out.

Food is so not worth the power struggle to me.

edited to add that I agree with pathiu-no complaining! If you don't like something just say " no thank, I don't care for that" no gagging noises or rude comments. (even thought it was really hard for me when he chose to buy a halloween snoball the other day!)
This pretty much covers it. I make meals and if my son doesn't want them (after a taste, although if he really resists I say "I wish you had" and move on) he is welcome to have one of 2-3 boring alternatives (PB&J, leftovers, cheese and toast). I also discourage (not forbid) snacks right before meals.

I did want to say that we do a few things to add to the "food culture" in our family though:

- we cook together often; I would say it averages out to about once a day although it's more intensive on weekends
- I meal plan, then run the plan past my son and husband, and my son chooses one of the meals a week, so it's collaborative
- we do a CSA for veggies in the summer and meat & eggs/root veggies in the winter, and the arrival of that box is treated like Christmas every week/month and we learn about the veggies and stuff together
- we have fun/theme meals sometimes - fancy meals to practice etiquette, minor holiday type stuff (corned beef for St. Patrick's Day - the one time a year we make it)
- we have "picnics" sometimes downstairs eating on the couch as a way to shake it up (otherwise we eat at the table); sometimes that meal is sort of tapas-based whwere we bring in different cheeses and breads and olives and veggies and stuff, and my husband and I make a show of trying things
- as stated above we don't bring in a lot of junk....although I do find it is starting to bring itself, esp. since we are entering the High Eating Holidays. We don't banish it outright either

Also after reading Mindless Eating I've used a few tricks - fruit and vegetables are stored front and centre. We have fun names for some dishes like "bloody salad" for Halloween (beets). We serve from the stove, but plunk the salad/raw veggies/veggies on the table for easy access for seconds.

I'm pretty happy with the results so far. We still do have occasional asks for candy, "a meal with a toy" and so on, but I feel comfortable that I can make a decision either way...I can say no and it will be fine, or now and then I can say yes and in the context of our healthy diet it won't set a bad tone or anything like that.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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