3 Steps to Being a Great Feeder
Health, Wellness, & Safety
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Parenting is no easy feat, especially when it comes to feeding your child. Encouraging a positive attitude about food and eating, consuming nutritious foods, and cultivating a good body image are fundamental to your child’s health and wellbeing. The attention you give to food selection and the process of feeding your child lays the foundation for a future of health and body confidence. Here are five key concepts to consider as you raise your healthy eater:
Enrich the Plate and the Palate
Children require over 40 nutrients each day. Offering a wide variety of whole, natural foods that include low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will help assure these nutrient needs are met. Reduce consumption of processed foods and foods with artificial colorings, as these may be nutrient-poor and crowd out the necessary nutrients required by your growing child.
Focus on Family Meals
Sit down and eat together as often as you can. Research indicates that three to five family meals per week improves grades, reduces risk-taking behaviors in teens, and prevents obesity and eating disorders.
Try family-style feeding: put a variety of prepared food into serving dishes, pass them around the table and let everyone choose which foods they will eat and how much. Be sure to include one or two food items that you know your child likes and is comfortable eating. Family-style meals encourage your child to eat food amounts that are right for his body and appetite.
Provide, Don’t Deprive
Be a great provider: Take care to keep your kitchen stocked with nutrient-rich foods. Prepare good-tasting, healthy meals that appeal to your child. Anticipate hunger between meals and serve healthy snacks that satisfy your child.
Avoid being a depriver: When it comes to your child’s appetite, be sure to respect his hunger. Restricting or controlling how much your child eats may leave him hungry and promote overeating at other occasions.
Be Predictable and Consistent
Develop a rhythmic and timely pattern to meals and snacks, and be consistent. Predictability and consistency helps your child keep hunger in check, be more relaxed about eating, and less fixated on food.
Be a Positive Influence
Parents are the greatest influence, particularly in the first decade of life, on their child’s eating behaviors, food selections, and body image. To raise healthy eaters, you have to be a healthy eater too! Be a terrific role model for your child by enjoying nutritious, wholesome foods every day.
Negative comments about your child’s food selections, how much or how little they eat, and how they look may hurt your child’s self esteem and body image. At mealtime, take the focus off of food and body size and enjoy a conversation about the school day or future activities on the family schedule.
Following these strategies will help you be a great feeder and raise a child who is a confident, healthy eater.