A lot of research has been done around parenting styles when it comes to feeding. Every family goes through or has gone through mealtime battles, especially with more than one child around the house. The battles range from sudden refusals to eat the dishes that were supposed to be favourite, rejecting healthy foods outright, or even over nothing in particular. But the most common child-related dining table battles remain the issue of eating vegetables and cleaning up the plates. As to how parents might handle those concerns, depends on their parenting styles. Are you the type that says, “You can’t have dessert until you finish your veggies” or “You’re not getting up from that table until that plate is clean”? Or do you have the skills and the patience to not make mealtime a battleground?
The issue, discussed in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’, outlines certain Dos and Don’ts and are worth keeping in mind by parents of young children. To summarise:
- Don’t pressurise your children to eat only healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Allow them access to occasional treats, or they will eat more than their normal quantity of junk food when they find it.
- If your children are overweight, don’t chastise them when they want to use food as comfort or pleasure or they will struggle with over eating as they grow older. The key is to gently bring them back on the right path of eating, with patience.
- Practice what you preach and eat with your children to let them follow your example.
- Try not to use only sugary foods as a reward.
- Expose your family to different varieties of foods early in life so they appreciate the choice available and thereby increase their chances of choosing healthy food later in life.