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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.

The benefits of eating a healthy diet is a common topic of research studies, with many results pointing towards numerous and varied physical benefits.  Although experts disagree on what, exactly, is the very healthiest diet, there is general agreement that junk food, sodas, sugary drinks, sweets, fried foods, etc., aren’t good for your physical health.  The vast majority of nutritional experts also agree that increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables is a very positive step for our physical health.  But the latest news comes from a University in Australia, where a large, recent study has found mental health benefits from healthy nutrition in children, as well.  Specifically, they connected those healthy diets to a higher IQ!

Researchers studied babies and toddlers from 6 months to 24 months of age.  They tracked the nutritional intake of the children in those early formative years, and then followed up again when the children were 8 years old.  Researchers found a small but measurable difference in IQ between those children who ate a healthy diet early on and those who ate a diet with significant cookies, sodas, and other junk foods.  Eating a healthful diet and avoiding regular sweets/junk was associated with higher IQ!

So, even though the sweets may taste great, and even though children may ask (or tantrum!) for them, parents now have one more reason to stick to their guns and serve a balanced and healthy diet.

More information on this study is available here: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news55161.html

5 Foods to Avoid with Children:

1. Sodas – including diet sodas. The average can of soda (including Sprite) has the equivalent of TEN spoonfuls of sugar
2. Fruit juice and sports drinks – loaded with sugar and has very little nutritional content
3. Processed foods – chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, mac and cheese and all packaged foods
4. Sugary cereals
5. Cookies and chips – nothing beats fresh fruit for a snack

Share below in our Comments box healthy meals, snacks and beverages your kids enjoy!