People often say to me; “your children must be great eaters” and I say back to them “no, they’re not”! Given half a chance, my daughter would eat bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner and my 11-year-old would eat anything containing sugar within a 10 km radius.

 

But what I do do, is provide healthy, veg-packed meals for them and sometimes they eat them, sometimes they don’t. But I have stopped getting stressed about the times that they don’t as I try to follow the “Division of Responsibility” rule from Ellyn Satter, a leading child feeding expert in the USA.

 

She says basically that as a parent, my responsibility is to provide the food that I want my children to eat and that their responsibility is to eat the amount that they need.

 

This has meant that mealtimes in our house are no longer about “eat this or you won’t get that” or “eat your broccoli NOW” and more about the chats about their day (or more frequently, ongoing instruction about how to actually sit at the table and use cutlery!). 

 

 

So they might only eat the carbs on their plate as per tonight's dinner (isn’t it amazing that they can avoid any piece of vegetable on their plate - surely that’s a skill in itself?!) or they might eat everything as they did with last nights dinner. But I don’t get stressed about it and also, I don’t offer any alternatives.

 

This follows through into all their meals: I provide what I want them to eat and that’s my job done. It’s up to them to eat it or not. Tonight, my 11-year-old son has gone to bed after eating 25% of his dinner (see image of the leftovers) and I have a feeling that he might be hungry (or else he has food hidden somewhere!) but I didn’t offer any alternatives and I was very clear at dinnertime that this would be the case. And I didn’t stress about it….

 

What do you think? 

 

As a mum of 3, I know how difficult, challenging and difficult (worth saying twice!) it can be, feeding them a healthy, balanced diet. A couple of years ago, I left my full-time job and retrained as a Health and Nutrition Coach - much to the disgust of my children. My goal is to teach children about the joys of healthy eating (so yes, I know how difficult it is!) through my business, The Cool Food School (www.thecoolfoodschool.ie). I also like to run, drink coffee and ignore the housework.

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