Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quality and Quantity-Let Kids Serve Themselves

There is a respected saying in Registered Dietitian circles that "the parents decide what to eat, the child decides how much to eat" (Ellyn Satter).  Learn more here.  This respects inherent appetite controls that children have. You decide the quality, they decide the quantity.

Recent research from the University of Illinois Child Development Laboratory suggests that children who serve themselves at meals are less likely to overeat.  They need that practice of deciding for themselves. It is a lifelong skill, as important as the three R's.
Researchers also found children who serve themselves at mealtimes are more likely to try new foods.  That may be "the participation effect".  Just like when my husband makes dinner, he thinks everything tastes perfectly, kids who help with meal planning, preparation, and chores are more likely to like it. Thumbs up.

Having some structure around those meals is also helpful.  Set the table.  Say grace.  Practice table manners.  Have conversation.  Expect everyone to stay at the table until the last person is done eating.  Have everyone help with clean up.  These things seem old school and obvious, but they are dwindling in current, busy, over scheduled families.

Here's to family meals!

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