It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

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DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.
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« You Can't Make Me Eat It! | Main | Thank you for another fabulous year. »
Tuesday
Jan012013

2013 Resolutions: Lose Weight and Change How Your Kids Eat

It is New Year's Day, and what do people usually do today? Start on their resolutions. 

Improve Health and Fitness always make the Top 10 New Year's Resolution lists. Here are some tips to get you going.

As new study reports small habit changes lead to effective weight loss: use smaller plates, don't eat directly from the package, drink water with every meal, put your utensils down between bites.
  • The key to effective weight loss? Small and concrete habit changes.
  • The key to changing how your kids eat? Small and concrete habit changes.
See where I'm going? 

 

Parents tell me all the time about how excited and upbeat they feel when they come across a new strategy, and how equally frustrated they feel when the new strategy fails.

Other people seem to have success, these parents say. Why can’t they?

The answer comes down to two things.
  • Switching strategies can’t work while tensions in the household remain high because your child is still primed to resist all of your efforts, no matter what they are
  • Many parents attempt to make changes that seem like small steps to them but which are too difficult for their children to achieve.

Resolution 1: Do whatever it takes to reduce the tension around eating in your household.

It might surprise you to hear that the easiest way for parents to reduce tension is to tap into their permissive parent. When used as a long-term strategy, permissive parenting exacerbates problem eating. Here, I’m proposing that you use permissive parenting as a temporary fix. 

Scale back on your expectations and demands for a few days or a week. Let your child: 

  • Forgo vegetables
  • Drink chocolate milk
  • Eat on the go

Resolution 2: Break your feeding goals down into small, incremental steps, ones your children can achieve very easily.

The smaller the step, the easier to achieve, the more successful you'll be.

For most children, the ideal outcome is simply too hard to attain in one giant step. By pressing for too big of a challenge, parents set their children up for failure (and, in doing so, they set themselves up for a great deal of frustration).

Instead, work towards smaller goals, one stage at a time.

  • You may want your children to eat new food when what they have to do first is learn to taste new foods.
  • You may want your kids to taste new foods when what they need to do first is learn to smell new foods.
  • You may want your child to smell new foods when what they need to do first is let new foods sit on their plates.

Reward your children for each small step. Reward with praise. Reward with stars. Reward with extra stories at bedtime. Reward with whatever your children find rewarding!

The point is, when you present your kids with small, doable challenges, they succeed. Nothing encourages kids to move forward more than that.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Kaipainen K, Payne CR, Wansink B. 2012. Mindless Eating challenge: Retention, Weight Outcomes, and Barriers for Changes in a Public Web-Based Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Program. J med Internet Res 14(6): e168 downloaded from http://www.jmir.org/2012/6/e168/ on 1/1/13.

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Reader Comments (3)

Count me in.

Nutrition resolutions:
- Journal - track the wins and losses, veggie rotation, 1/f/1v every meal every time.
- Family walk - Setting challenge number of minutes each week with a family prize for each week we "score" (no, not chocolate!)
- Weight loss - yep the adults in this house have work to do,

Wishing one and all a healthy and fit 2013!

January 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinn

I noticed you ended with food being on their plate. I have an issue right now with my 2 yr old getting upset with food on her plate. I tell her she doesn't have to eat it and she will pick it up and put it on the table. How should I respond to that?

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersallyjrw

Sally,

There are two ways you can deal with this. First, you can settle by putting the food near her plate (in a small bowl) and make sure she accepts that. Then work on getting her to accept the food on her plate. Or, you can just tell your daughter that she doesn't have to eat anything but she has to let the food sit on her plate. You can implement a reward system (one star or one small prize like a sticker) for every meal that she lets the food sit on her plate and a big reward (a toy, an outing, an extra story at bedtime) when she earns 3 or 4 stars/small prizes. In this instance you would ignore the "bad" behavior and reward the "good" behavior. You could also use a punishment if she screams/tantrums, etc. like a timeout. Whatever you decide, be clear upfront, before the meal. Then, just before the meal remind your daughter of the situation. Then, the second the food hits the plate (before she can remove it) give her verbal praise, "Thanks so much for being a big girl and letting the food stay on your plate like I asked.) This should help keep the food on the plate. Tell her she's on her way to the prize/reward (but don't make too big of a deal about it).

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Dina

January 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterDina Rose

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