"5 Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Their Kids" Review

What mistakes are parents making when feeding their kids? The answers are more common than you think (from the nutrition article "5 Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Their Kids").

1. You say one thing and do another.

One of the best things we can do as parents is set good examples when it comes to food. "Do as I say, not as I do" is rarely an approach that works. As parents, we have the incredible challenge of trying to carve out a healthy eating environment in an otherwise obesogenic society. We want to make eating fruits and vegetables appear to be the norm. We want to make sipping juice, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages seem strange. We want to offer food portions that are reasonable, rather than similar to the sizes offered in most restaurants.

All of this isn't to say that we need to create rigid rules about what foods we allow our kids to eat. But having some mental guidelines about how we behave when it comes to food is important if we are going to be good role models. Eventually, our kids will outgrow their interest in chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. What they eat instead may have something to do with what they've seen us eat.
Personal Trainer Wisdom: While many parents make setting an example for their children a priority, few carry this philosophy over to their eating habits. Without a doubt, everything you do is a model for those sponge-like brains. Nothing is more important than the dietary habits formed during a young age. Although you can think that the children can eat whatever they want from birth to 10 years old, it's actually the opposite. This is a key developmental period of a child's life, and the eating choices may have long-term physical effects. While your child may not eat perfectly, you can still model healthy eating behaviors that will certainly lay the groundwork for better choices.

2. You force it.

In a perfect world, my children would eat fruit at every meal. They'd love Brussels sprouts, and they wouldn't have inherited my sweet tooth. In other words, they'd eat balanced, nutritious food for every meal. And while I could try my darnedest to force them to do just that, decades of research suggests that forcing or bribing kids to eat certain foods only devalues those foods. For example, when you say, "Eat your broccoli, and then you can have ice cream for dessert," you are teaching your kids that broccoli is not that great and that eating it warrants a reward. And, although they've probably already figured out that ice cream is awesome, you are reinforcing the idea that sweets are a desirable treat. So what do you do when your kids don't want to eat anything green? Model salad consumption and encourage them to try a bite repeatedly, since research suggests that liking something often requires it to be tasted over and over. Then, let it rest.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Much like adults, children will often resist anything that is forced upon them. While I understand the frustration when your child won't cooperate (and the need to negotiate), your patience and consistency will eventually prevail. Experiment with different approaches but never compromise the underlying health message.

3. You instill too many rules.

No snacking, no dessert, no soda – you may have grown up with plenty of "food rules" that you're tempted to implement in your household. But you know what they say about rules? They are meant to be broken. Parents often ask me about rules pertaining to snacking in particular. Should kids be on a meal "schedule," or should they have some autonomy to decide when and what they want to eat? My (evidence-based) advice is: Offer healthy meals, but don't force kids to eat if they aren't hungry. If they ask for a snack, first ask them if they are hungry – or bored or avoiding homework or trying to create as many dirty dishes as possible. If they are hungry, allow them to choose a snack from a variety of healthful options. My kids are notoriously hungry at 5 p.m., right as I begin to make dinner. If they can't wait, I suggest a banana or edamame. I know that when they take the banana, they are really hungry. If they eat less dinner afterward, well, at least they ate a banana.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: Welllllll.........unfortunately and fortunately all of us have a rule system. It's a necessary structure in our life. It steers our decisions and behaviors after all. I assume you'd want to guide your children in developing an appropriate system for themselves as well. While you should instill an adaptable system within your children, you should be mindful of your approach. During this time of emotional and mental development, focus on the consequences of different behaviors while helping them understand their bodies and the connection to the environment. Ultimately, you aren't placing rules on your children. You're helping them determine their appropriate boundaries.

4. You fight about it.

Food is never just food. Often, parents may unintentionally find themselves fighting with their kids about food as a proxy for other fights they may want to have. For example, you may be irritated with your daughter because her room is never clean. But because you can't seem to force her to get it under control and you can control how many sweets are in the house, you eliminate ice cream and fight about that instead. That proves, you justify to yourself, that you are the grown-up and you are the one in charge. Although arguing about junk food or some dessert may be difficult to avoid, choose these battles wisely – if you choose them at all. A bit of junk food here and there and a small serving of dessert isn't going to hurt any of us, and fighting about it sets a negative tone around food. By allowing our kids to have an occasional cookie for dessert, we are teaching them that reasonable portions of desirable foods can be part of a healthy lifestyle – something even the American Dietetic Association supports. This strategy is likely to keep them from going overboard when they have the ability to make food choices on their own.

Personal Trainer Wisdom: You should certainly keep eating a positive experience, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't hold a firm ground on your healthy eating belief. Instead of fighting the point, try explaining why a person must limit or eliminate such foods. If you still offer the desired food, help your child understand why that amount is acceptable.

5. You make it a big deal.

Choosing what we feed our kids is arguably one of the most important roles we have as parents. But making food a big deal can backfire. For example, fixating on food sends some unhelpful messages, such as that food is "difficult," it's not enjoyable and it's not about nutrition and health. It also tells kids that some food is "bad" and some is "good" – a sort of dichotomous thinking apt to contribute to overeating of the "bad." Rigidity rarely works. Instead, try asking your kids questions to help them learn to make good decisions on their own. "How many cookies do you think you should have for dessert?" "Are you really hungry right now, or are you just looking for something to do?" "What do you think would be a good snack now, given that it's almost dinnertime?"
Personal Trainer Wisdom: Seems to be a theme here.... Guide your children through the decision-making process of eating. Steer their mindset and approach to food.

What other mistakes do you think parents make when feeding their kids?

Picture Credit:
MSN.com-Is your approach in the kitchen a bad model for your child?

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Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article " 5 Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Their Kids " on MSN.com.
"5 Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Their Kids" Review
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