Is your kitchen always open, always a mess, and always producing food? Do you ever wonder if this is healthy? Sustainable? Or is it the makings of a crazy momma-lady and an out of control eater?
While some parents may believe that closing the kitchen is an antiquated approach to managing food, I find it to be a healthy way to set limits on food and eating.
When you close the kitchen, it:
-Allows for space between meals and snacks
-Encourages predictability with timing of meals and snacks
-Supports the foundation of structure and rhythm for daily meals and snacks
-Promotes food security in children, through knowledge that food will be available at predictable times
When the kitchen is always open:
-No limits are set around food and eating
-It’s “food for everyone, all of the time” and grazing is more likely
-Regular and rhythmic eating may change to impulsive and less intuitive eating
-Overeating and poor food choices become a strong possibility
The kitchen is closed is particularly useful when you have done a good job at providing meals and snacks to children in timely intervals, such as every three to four hours. Make sure you have regular times when the kitchen is open, for breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner. Then, when your child comes to you an hour after eating dinner, wanting something else to eat, the kitchen is closed is a clear boundary.
If this is initially upsetting to your child, assure her that another meal or snack will be available soon. Encourage your child to eat at meals and snacks when the kitchen is open. Soon your child will learn to eat at meal and snack times, learn to do other things in between, and feel secure that her hunger and nutrient needs will be met regularly.