Parenting and Eating—What should we be telling our Children?

If you pay close attention to the media you would see a whole lot of mixed messages about what our children should be eating. One minute we hear about the epidemic of childhood obesity and the other minute attention is placed on the problem of eating disorders. Some say our children should stay away from carbohydrates, the next minute trans fat. The latest research points to calories, but next week we could be hearing a something new altogether. All these mixed messages can send parents into confusion as what to (or not to) feed our children.
If you had the chance to read the New York Times this past Thursday an article in the Style’s section may have caught your eye on parenting and eating. If not, I have provided the link and encourage you to take a read.

The article touches many things that we should keep in mind as we go through our day giving diet advice. As a nutritionist I am often asked whether or not a child should or should not be eating a given food. Rather than a “do’s and “don’ts” list, below are a few guidelines I use in my practice:
Parenting and Eating Tips

1. Have all types of food available in the house—keep the apples out on the counter but have cookies available in the pantry

2. Eat as many meals as possible as a family—modeling is one of the most powerful tools when forming eating behaviors

3. Always include protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates during meals—have desert, but sometimes have fruit or sorbet and sometimes something sweeter

4. At younger ages feel free to portion out foods for your children—if they ask for seconds, ask them if they are still hungry—this will help them work on identifying their hunger cues as well as learn about appropriate portion sizes

5. Try not to make food a big deal—the less emphasis that is placed on it the more positive the relationship!