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QUASIOR SparkPoints: (9,005)
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5/19/12 11:22 P

Two things we often forget as adults, that is completely intuitive to a child:
Eat only when hungry.
Eat only enough.
You cannot force a child to eat (without abuse in my opinion), and they will only eat when and if they need to. Don't mess with this - it's a beautiful, natural thing. It can lead to issues if we don't eat intuitively.
This intuitive eating is a driving force in a child - they eat when they need to grow, step back a little while they don't. It is a little personality based too. Oh, and rule of thumb, a child will need to see something new on their plates about three times before some will even attempt to eat it. Consistency and patience is what a parent must have. Consistently offer good healthy food, and treats only if they've eaten enough good stuff during the day (never on demand and never as a direct reward.)

Above all: relax about it all - a child won't starve themselves.

Hope that helps. Quasior

You are naturally trying to be a good mum, sometimes a good mum takes a back seat about some things. This is one of them.

SARAIAB Posts: 61
5/16/12 11:12 A

I have to agree with what the others said too. We are constantly fighting these battles with our 5 and 6 year olds who are picky. I stinks when you make a healthy meal and they turn their nose or don't complete it. And I have grazers too. So I have 2 rules...

1.) eat snacks in between meals but we only keep healthy ones in the house. The kids know that they can have unlimited water, apples, grapes, cucumbers, bananas, and yogurt - I do cut them off about an hour before dinner at least

2.) if they do not eat a meal and I can tell it's simply stubbornness (Looks gross, I don't want to try that), then the rule is they get no more snacks. Because I don't want them to think that they always have a choice and that food can go to waist.

But if they have genuinely tried to finish eating but they are full, then I let them go about their merry way. I try to keep portions small at meals because I understand that giving them too much and expecting them to eat it all is asking too much. Especially with foods that I know are not favorites. Fish for example I give maybe 1-2 oz. not much but its enough for them, and enough for me to require they at least try it before turning up a nose. But I would compensate with another course for the meal (like more veggies, pasta, or some fruit).

My 2 cents...

JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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5/16/12 11:07 A

That's good to hear. It's really not as hard as it sounds, but if it isn't done early and consistently, you'll pay heavy for it in the future. That not only goes for bad eating habits but bad behavior or anything else. A child's whole adulthood can be formed by the foundation laid down in the first 5 years of a child's life. Keep the faith

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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5/16/12 10:04 A

That's really wonderful! Glad to hear you're having progress. Stay consistent, and you'll definitely see a difference. Just remember to look long term... she'll have good days, and bad!

5/16/12 9:33 A

Only a few days in and feeling very blessed. Natalie ate yogurt with granola for breakfast, cherries for snack, and is not fighting time to eat. I think the biggest problem was we were over feeding her. Thank you everyone for tips on how much she should be served. Now we've got healthy dessert choices if she eats her dinner and there isn't the battle to the finish. Learning so much and feeling very motivated, I know I'm new to this and it may wear off, but hopefully lessons learned will stay long term

SOCAL_LEE SparkPoints: (43,325)
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5/15/12 4:24 P

I agree completely with Dragonchilde, who's given some great advice, as has Jadomb. One thing Dragonchilde mentioned that I want to emphasize in particular is smaller portions for your daughter. Little kids don't need an adult-sized plate of food and can't eat it anyway, and in general they need much less food than many adults think they do. As a rule of thumb, give/offer a tablespoon of each food being served per year of age. So, for breakfast you might offer your daughter 4 tbsps of yogurt and 4 tbsps of banana (that would be about half a banana). This article gives some other equivalents:

Sometimes kids get overwhelmed by a plate heaped with food and just eat the one item they are sure they'll like instead of at least tasting everything on the plate, so you can end up with someone who's full of pasta and doesn't want to eat the broccoli.

Good luck!

CLARK971 SparkPoints: (29,686)
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5/15/12 2:28 P

dragonchilde has some great advice. if the child isn't hungry, don't force her to eat.

JADOMB SparkPoints: (134,622)
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5/14/12 3:57 P

Yes, good advice already given. I also see this at the schools where they give the students too much food and most of it goes in the trash. If they only see a little bit of good nutritious food and nothing else to fill up on, those plates would be clean off. The same for at home.

The other good advice is in order to model, the parents have to show their children what is right. So make sure you guys are also taking small portions of good food. Also, beside eating right, make sure you guys are NOT fighting over this in front of her. This is something to take care of out of the range of little ears. Our simple rule though when we had to make a decision before we could talk about it, was that the NO won out over the YES until further study and discussion could be done. That also teaches the child NOT to run to the parent that says YES the most or that gives in the most. Keep the Faith

LUANN_IN_PA Posts: 26,406
5/14/12 2:24 P

"My question is how do we get her to eat small healthy portions when she isn't hungry? "

You don't!
DRAGONCHILDE has good advice below....

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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5/14/12 1:47 P

What I recommend is after she goes to bed some night, sit him down and discuss this with him. Be very gentle in your discussion, and take care to avoid those loaded "you" statements, stuff like "you always want her to clean her plate". Saying things like that will put him on the defensive.

I would NOt force her to eat if she's not hungry. If she's genuinely not hungry, then it's fine to say "Okay, let me know when you're ready" and provide some easy-to-access finger foods like raw carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

She's also old enough to start talking about healthy choices! I started talking to my 6 year old about that when she was about 4. Any time we eat, we discuss what is a healthy choice, and what's not. We talk about not eating just because you want something, and that it's okay to have things in moderation. At 4, she won't get everything, but it will start to lay the foundations of a healthy lifestyle. I've really started seeing the fruit of my labors recently, as my 6 year old has started actively choosing healthy things when given the choice. It's also important to really acknowledge and reward (with praise!) when she makes healthy choices.

My daughter surprised me by ordering water at a restaurant... I made a really big deal about this with her. She often wants things like salad instead f other things, because she knows it's healthy, or milk instead of soda. The lessons I've been working on the last couple of years have really started to show.

I have never been big about "clean plates", although if we know they haven't eaten something, or they want dessert, they have to make a happy plate. The rule in our house is: "If you have room for dessert, then you have room for what's on your plate."

REmember that what is more important when you're eating (all of you) isn't about eating 3 square meals a day. It's about a healthy, balanced diet over the course of the day. IF she isn't hungry, offer her smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

I think it's especially important to *model* the behavior you want her to imitate; that also means skipping the discussions about "how much weight I want to lose" or "that's fattening" because just like you start now and she will listen, she's already listening to the lessons you teach. I talk about "getting stronger" and "being healthy" - not losing weight. I'm not perfect, and she'll occasionally comment on being proud of me "for how much weight you've lost, mommy" but I immediately thank her and redirect the discussion to how much more energy I have and how much stronger I am. This usually involves some muscle flexing on both of our parts. ;)

You both need to get on board with this, though; talk about it together, and don't try to be passive aggressive about it. You need to sit him down and explain what you want to do, and why... feel free to use my kid as an example, if you want! Explain that we've learned that "cleaning your plate" is an unhealthy way our parents taught us to overeat.

IF you can't get him to shake the "clean plate" mentality, then start by serving her smaller portions that are well within her capacity to eat, and try what we do with my (much less exceptional with eating) 4 year old now... we don't force her to clean her plate, especially when she's having a picky day and won't because she's hard headed, we expect her to eat all of *one* thing on her plate, the thing we provided that we know she eats. And if she doesn't eat it all? That's fine too. It gets put in the fridge for the inevitable "I'm hungry" later.

I may not be good at much, but this is one thing I'm good at. ;) I'm hellbent on teaching my kid to develop healthy habits NOW, while she's forming those habits, rather than training her into the yo-yo diet/skinny fat/binge cycle so many kids get into these days.

5/14/12 11:39 A

Natalie (4) knows when she is hungry and she knows when she is not hungry. I spent the past 4 years never having a single hunger pang and constantly over eating. My husband regularly skips meals so neither of us has really set a good example for her. My question is how do we get her to eat small healthy portions when she isn't hungry? Should we let her skip meals? Hubby wants her to clean her plate each meal, I know this is wrong, but how do we find the healthy compromise? Right now Natalie is sick, cold, so she doesn't have an appetite, I say let it go, what say you?

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