Did you know that the the longest relationship you will have in your life is your relationship with food?
Because of our life-long relationship with food, it is critically important that we raise our children to be healthy and competent eaters. The good news is that children have not yet been influenced by diet culture or marketing, and are actually better at listening to their internal hunger and fullness cues, and regulating their appetite than adults are! In order to continue this positive trend as your child grows up, it is important that you do not try to control your child’s eating behaviours, or fixate on your child’s weight. Controlling your child’s eating behaviours and fixating on their weight can contribute to the development of disordered eating or clinical eating disorders.
So, how do you build a foundation of food trust with your child? This video and article speak to “the division of responsibility”. The division of responsibility is a principle developed by Registered Dietitian Ellyn Satter that outlines the roles and responsibilities of the parent and child when it comes to the feeding relationship. You can watch the video below, or continue reading this article to learn about how these responsibilities are divided between parent and child.
Responsibilities of the parent
You decide what to serve, and your child picks what they would like to eat from what you have put on the table. This does not mean you make different meals for each family member, it simply means that you place dinner on the table, and allow your child to eat what they want based on preference and hunger level.
When will your child be sitting down for meals and snacking? This is part of the parents’ responsibility. When, refers to providing regular meals and snacks throughout the day. By having a regular food routine, this supports and reassures your child that food will regularly be available to them.
The final responsibility of the parent is to decide where your family will eat their meals. If you eat dinner in the dining room, everyone knows that they need to come to the dinner table when it is time to eat. Establishing a regular meal setting will discourage children from asking to eat in front of the television, and encourages regular, healthy eating habits.
Responsibilities of the child
1. How much
Remember, your child is the best regulator of how hungry they are. Therefore, they will choose how much to eat based upon how they feel. It is normal for their appetite to fluctuate, so don’t be worried if they eat more or less than expected on some days.
Sometimes your child will not want to eat a certain food, or any food at all. This is perfectly okay, as your child will instinctively eat based upon their internal body cues.
In summary, the division of responsibility states that it is the parent’s job to do the feeding, and it is the child’s job to do the eating. This allows you and your child to build a better relationship with food. There are lots of nuances with the division of responsibility, and if you would like to learn more, please contact us to book an appointment with one of our dietitians.