Learning to Handle the Lure of Forbidden Foods
Learning to Handle the Lure of the Forbidden Foods
Want to know more about weaning? Read our evidence based series of weaning related blogs listed below too!
- Weaning Basics
- Traditional Weaning and Self Feeding
- Baby Led Weaning - An Indian Parent's Guide
- Troubleshooting for Baby Led Weaning
Let us talk about junk! When we have a baby, we tend to be idealistic about what we can and cannot give the baby, as indeed we should. But having a child growing up in the present world also means that they are bound to be exposed to the world of junk foods – high fat, high sugar or highly salted foods. Ellyn Satter, an internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding, calls these foods “controlled substances” because of course; they are like drugs to a child. A child or daresay, even an adult truly struggles with controlling their impulses when it comes to foods like cookies, candies, chips or cakes because they are addictive.
However, it is imperative that children learn to adapt to living in the present world with all its temptations, while also making healthy choices when it comes to regular meals. Hence, as parents, our responsibilities also now include steering the child to make the healthy choice while taking away the lure that forbidden foods hold. A good start here is to make those foods “not forbidden” in their nature.
Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility
Ellyn Satter is an internationally recognized authority on eating and feeding and the Ellyn Satter institute is a nonprofit organization that was created to carry on the legacy of her work.
For the purpose of this blog, we are focusing only on Satter’s Division of Responsibility with respect to feeding your child solids.
Satter lays out that parents should lead the feeding activity with the what, when and where of feeding. This means that, as a parent, you will be responsible for the meal planning – what food, what time of the day and where to eat.
- Plan the meal and prepare the food accordingly.
- Provide regular meals and snacks.
- Set an example for your child by showing them how to eat and behave during family meal time.
- Make eating times pleasant by not forcing child to eat more than they can or to eat food they do not want to. Just say “you don’t have to eat” and mean it.
- Do not completely pander to child’s likes and dislikes, but plan the meal components in a manner that is considerate of their skills and preferences.
- Do not provide snacks or beverages at unplanned times.
Your child’s role in feeding is:
- To eat the amount they need.
- To learn to eat family foods.
- To learn to behave appropriately at meal times.
As a parent, you need to trust your child to self-regulate when it comes to mealtimes, and let your child grow into the body that is right for them.
Effective meal planning
- Plan to have family meals at regular meal and snack times. Prioritize the structure of the meals in a day and make it a routine.
- Once you have the habit of a routine down, work towards a more organized and varied meal planning. Make a meal plan, and shop for it. Stick to it as much as possible and rework the next week’s meal taking into account the successes and failures of the previous week.
- When meal planning, include at least one or two foods that your child enjoys as part of the meal along with other regular family foods – if the whole family is having roti and the child likes rice, plan meals ahead of time to include a portion of rice as well.
- Use good fats liberally for children – they provide the feeling of satiety for longer.
- Eat food that is enjoyable. Meals do not always have to be very basic. Once in a while, make pizzas or whatever rocks your boat. Make all that effort of planning and preparing a meal rewarding by making a meal that you look forward to.
- Engage your children in meal preparation, in small, age appropriate ways. Children are more enthusiastic about meal times when they have contributed to the meal preparation.
- Restrict access to food and beverages between planned meal times. Children who are not hungry tend to graze at mealtimes. Tell the hungry child to wait for mealtime and that dinner will be served soon.
- Plan sit down snack-times halfway between two meal times. Snacks are mini meals and need not always be treats. Use snack time effectively by planning two to three foods, covering proteins, fat and carbohydrate components. Make servings unlimited, and include foods that are otherwise difficult to include, like vegetables or forbidden foods.
- Include treats such as cookies, chips or chocolates at meals and snacks at least twice a week for older children.
- For children who have a long gap between dinner, and bed time, plan a bedtime snack that is healthy without being high in sugar, to protect their teeth.
Using forbidden foods wisely
Forbidden foods are high fat, high sugar, low nutrient and mostly highly processed foods like chips, cookies, cakes and sodas.
- Offer forbidden foods very rarely for children younger than 18 months since their meal patterns and habits are formative during this stage.
- Restricting forbidden foods for older children can backfire because children whose intake of forbidden foods is restricted, tend to eat more of them when they are available, leading to childhood obesity in some cases.
- For your child to be relaxed around all kinds of foods and make healthy choices even in your absence, as a parent, it is important for you to figure out how to use forbidden foods wisely.
- Include sufficient quantities of forbidden foods like chips and fries at mealtimes at least thrice a week since high fat foods do not compete with regular foods as much as sweets do.
- Include dessert regularly – at least thrice a week. Serve the dessert along with the meal. The child can eat the dessert at anytime during the meal, but there will be only one serving for everyone.
- Use snack times to offer unlimited sweets once or twice a week. Set a plate of cookies along with some milk, and let the child go to town on the cookies.
- Carbonated drinks are adult drinks and must be termed as such when adults are drinking them in the presence of children. When the child is old enough to have soda, offer soda occasionally along with snacks or meals. Do not offer soda separately.
Follow Satter’s Division of Responsibility and empower your kids to deal with the temptation of forbidden foods by normalizing their availability while also planning your meals down pat!