{GUEST POST} Teach yourself to fish… and the kids. A lesson on eating competence.

By : | 0 Comments | On : August 31, 2015 | Category : Blog, Fussy Eaters

Teach Yourself to Fish… and the Kids. A Lesson on Eating Competence.

By Simone Emery from Play With Food

Firstly, I want to thank Allie, Jess and Sarah for having me here today! I love One Handed Cook’s honest and creative approach to cooking for a busy family. As a busy mum and the facilitator of children’s food classes, I can really appreciate all of their yummy recipes. I am so lucky to be sharing some of my insights that are very relevant to busy parents looking to understand their child’s feeding journey.

Ellyn Satter is a renowned dietitian from the US and I attended her conference in Sydney for professionals that deal with children’s feeding. One of the models she presented was the Satter Eating Competence model. And straight away this quote popped into my head:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Maimonides

Ellyn’s research show that to raise a competent eater, you need to be a competent eater. You teach your child to eat by sitting with them at a family meal. When you sit by him/her and eat as much as you need, they will too. When you take an interest in unfamiliar foods and learn to eat them, he or she will too. When you show your body respect by feeding it positively and well, so will he or she. Ellyn presented a model that helps you understand your own eating competence and it is broken down into the following areas:

–       Your eating attitude

–       Your contextual skills (ie. How you manage and orchestrate food in the household – yep, even cooking with one hand while the other toddler wrangles or nurses bub)

–       Your food acceptance

–       Your ability to internally regulate and understand your food intake needs

Ultimately your ability to teach-your-kids-to-fish can be improved by having regular family meals and making sure you take note of how you feel about your food too. A family can, by understanding and playing out their roles effectively in family meals, raise children to be competent, healthy and joyful eaters.

If your child is particularly fussy with a smell, texture, temperature, sound, colour or any other visual aspect of a food increasing their exposure to it via the family meal will help you iron out the root cause. Here are my tips for holding a successful family meal that appeals to even the fussiest of kids.

  1. Engage the child in some movement before the meal to help them organise or reset themselves.
  2. Everyone should sit with a 90o angle at the hips, knees and ankles. (Special chairs, foot rests or booster seats may be required).
  3. Decide on the environmental cues that will help your child concentrate on eating (eg. turn TV off, sit in a well-lit area, use a familiar placemat).
  4. Family style meal serves where everyone takes something from each plate provided – they can put it on their own plate.  Do this instead of plating up for the child in advance. It also saves on waste!
  5. From a contextual point of view, aim to offer a preferred food, a carbohydrate, a dairy, a fruit, a vegetable and a protein.
  6. Use this time as a great chance to connect with your children. Eat with purpose and concentration.

A bit about Simone:

Simone is a mother of 2 little girls and lives in Sydney. She runs Play with Food. Play with Food offer food experiences to children and their families that aim to delight the taste buds and imagination. Her aim in these is to help families have happy mealtimes. Get her guide “The ABC’s to happier and healthier family meals” via her website www.playwithfood.com.au. You can also find her on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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