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Five More Bites

poor eater boy with mum cartoonDo you want to know one of my biggest parenting pet peeves?

It’s when I hear parents saying, “Come on, just five more bites.” What REALLY makes me crazy is when they say it again and again, even when their child has told them that they are full!

One of my jobs as a parent is to teach my children how to become happy, healthy adults. Everything that I do is with this in mind. So when I hear parents telling their children that they need to have five more bites of food, I feel that they are parenting to make themselves feel better, not because they want to raise up happy, healthy adults.

Seeing your child eat five more bites might make YOU feel better in the moment, but it doesn’t teach your child anything about good eating habits. In fact, it may even be teaching them extremely unhealthy ones.

Here’s what really bothers me about this statement:

  1. It tells your child that her own body is not to be trusted. It tells her that even though she is telling you she is full, she shouldn’t listen to that signal – instead she should look to you or others for advice on when her stomach feels full.
  2. Parents have over-exaggerated expectations about how much food actually fills the stomach of a child. We often think they need way more food than they actually do, so we are often encouraging them to overeat! I’m sure that’s not what anyone wants!
  3. It makes food a battle. If this happens almost every time you sit down to a meal with your child, then mealtime cannot be very enjoyable for either of you. If you’ve got a willful child, then you may be teaching him that mealtime is the perfect platform for pushing your buttons.

Looking around at all the adults who have unhealthy relationships with food and the epidemic of obesity in this country, I’m begging you to think very carefully about what messages you are sending your children about food – and how you may be influencing an unhealthy relationship for the long term.

Sure, in the moment it might put your mind at ease to see him eat extra bites, but I urge you to think often about what long-term effects this may lead to. We want children to be able to listen to their own bodies and clearly recognize what hunger and full feel like, and to eat or stop eating based on those signals.

foodsense (1)Looking for a complete, step-by-step system designed with the help of a nutritionist to get your child eating a healthy, balanced diet? Check out The Food Sense Program by clicking here now!

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
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My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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