Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mindless Eating-start good habits early

Food is a huge issue in any family. If you think about it preparing meals, eating, cleaning up meals, planning, and shopping consume a large portion of our day. We eat about three times a day, and more if you count snacks. It can be a huge battle. If you stick to your guns to the food rules and table manners, battles start to disappear. I promise because we had to fight for a while with our first ones and it does get better!
I am the "Nutritional Gatekeeper" of our home. My husband has a huge impact as well. According to Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, the Nutritional Gatekeeper is the person in your home who does most of the food shopping and meal preparation. The gatekeeper has a huge influence on what is eaten inside and outside of the home. I just finished reading this book and I love it. I had no idea that there would be ideas on how to be a better parent in here but behold there was very practical ideas that help teach our children good eating habits early on. As the nutritional gatekeeper of your home here are some ideas the book gives.
--We inherit the attitudes about food and eating. Studies show that watching someone grimace while eating scares children away from tasty food and smiles and friendliness work in reverse--you can attract more children to foods they are unfamiliar to.
--Use positive associations with food that are healthy. Like: Spinach makes you strong like Popeye, Fish makes you smart, carrots give you great eyesight, broccoli are little dinosaur trees, and so on. These positive associations help children like these otherwise not so kid-friendly foods.
--fat-forming transformation in our eating habits takes place between the ages of three and five. A three year old will eat simply until he is full no matter how much he is served. By the age of five, a child pretty much will eat the portion that is on his plate. Be careful about giving too much food and then also expecting them to eat it all. Teach your child to listen to their bodies to tell them when they are full.
--Snack time hints: Portion out a serving size for snacks and then put the container of goldfish, pretzels, etc. away otherwise they will just keep eating. He recommends using baggies to portion out correct serving sizes especially if you buy food in bulk. Children and adults use external cues to determine whether they want more to eat. If it's available they think they're still hungry.
--Be careful not to use food as a reward (If you get an A on your test, we'll go out for ice cream), as comfort(Eat this cookie it will make you feel better), guilt (Clean your plate children are starving in China), or as punishment(Finish your food or you can't watch TV). -I really need to work on this!
--Be a good marketer of healthy food. Show by example and be convincing that healthy foods can be fresh, crunchy, refreshing, and make you strong, smart...
--Offer variety--Try new recipes, new ingredients, ethnic foods and different types of restaurants. The more foods you expose your child to, the more nutritionally well-rounded he will be.
--Use the Half-Plate Rule. A balanced meal is not steak and potatoes. Half your plate should have a vegetable or salad.
--Only serve the vegetables family style. Serve the meat and potatoes at the stove. This will help the family not overeat by getting seconds. If they are really hungry the vegetables are right there for the taking and it won't hurt to get some more of that.

I really liked all this advise I had one other to add
--My kids love snacks and desserts--they would rather eat these then their meal. Our family rule is if they don't eat their meal then they don't get snacks and desserts. If after 1/2 hour they say their hungry we will either say sorry you didn't eat all your food or we pull their plate out and they can eat their meal now. This has worked really well for us.
Check out his webpage it looks great at well as the book


  1. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

  2. Great topic! I am thankful to be married to a man that joins me in the food gatekeeping. Food can effect our moods, our energy, our sleep - it really does matter. Thanks for the tips.

  3. I have been blessed with the eating area. My kids eat really well. Sure there are times they say "leftovers again?" but they know the rule :You get what you get and you don't throw a fit! My kids would also eat more veggies than anything else. Andrew would eat salad all day if I let him. While they are younger and learning we do the same thing with the bringing of the food back out if they hadn't finished and want a snack. I feel like I offer a great variety but I still could do better.

  4. This is a book I am interested in reading. Another great book is called Intuitive Eating.

  5. I follow a blog that takes the book Intuitive Eating and discusses each chapter. It is called She hasn't posted something for a little while but her past posts are really interesting. You may like it. I actually haven't read the book but it's on my list to get it.


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