Food for Thought
Thanksgiving family feasts are traditional with this season. They make us very aware of the emotional overtones attached to food and eating. We tend to see food as a symbol of our love and caring for our families, we use it for both reward ( “you were good…have a cookie”) and punishment (“no cookie if you can’t behave”). It is no wonder that eating difficulties are a common source of discord between preschoolers and their parents. Bright children soon learn how to manipulate their parents with food.
Adults have 3 important responsibilities in regards to food.
- They must serve as good role models. Whether you eat potato chips or carrot sticks, your child will want the same.
- They decide what will be served. Put healthy well-balanced meals and snacks on the table…don’t nag or preach.
- They also decide when eating times will be and how long they will last. Three meals and two snacks spaced throughout the day are reasonable; 1/2 hour is ample time to eat — after that time conclude the meal and clear the table without argument.
After fulfilling their responsibilities, the adults must then relinquish to the child the right to decide which of the healthy available foods and how much of each that s/he will eat. Don’t worry if they eat less than you think they should. As children grow older, they grow more slowly, and their appetites should decrease. Don’t fuss if they choose not to eat some of everything. If only healthy foods are offered, children will tend to choose a balance over time. Don’t be concerned if they prefer apples to green beans. It is difficult for adults to relax and allow children to make these decisions, but if you won’t fight there will be no reason for them to make unreasonable demands. After refusing a healthy meal, children can be piteously convincing when they want snacks. Don’t be persuaded! An intelligent, healthy child will suffer no ill-effects from waiting until the next mealtime and will quickly learn to make appropriate food decisions.
Daily Dietary Requirements
|Milk or Milk Products||2-3 servings of 1/2-3/4 C||2-3 servings of 1/2-3/4 C|
|Meat or Meat Substitute||2 servings of 1/2-1 oz||2 servings of 1 oz per year of age|
|Fruits and Vegetables||4 servings of 2 T||4 servings of 1 T per year of age|
|Breads, Cereals, or Pasta||4 servings of 1/2-1 slice or 2 T||4 servings of 1/2-1 slice or 1 T per year of age|