14 September 2013

Portion control and letting children decide when enough is enough

I have read quite a few articles lately on how we should let our children tell us when they have had enough to eat. We should let them leave food on their plate and say well done for eating as much as they have. I have been guilty of spoon feeding my 5 year old the last bits of leftovers on her plate and these articles got me thinking.

I have always believed that babies were able to tell us they have had enough by refusing to open their mouths and pushing the spoon away - so why do I not still listen to my children now that they are that bit older and able to verbally communicate this with me? I must admit that some of the portions I serve my two are probably larger than they really need. They are both good eaters if not a little fussy at times. My younger one who turns 4 next week is the fussier of the two and I have therefore been a little more forceful in getting him to finish his food. He also had a tendency to wake up early the next morning if he had not had a big tea and my anticipation of another early wake up call probably contributed. My daughter on the other hand has always had a great appetite but I have still been spoon feeding her the last bit on her plate.

My mother and grandmother never liked to see food go to waste and we were always told to finish our plate of food before we could leave the table. I therefore also do not like seeing food go to waste.
Also, on a subconscious level, the thought of my children being hungry tugs at my maternal heart strings. On a rational level this is ludicrous. My children have never had a day without food like many millions of children throughout the world do on a regular basis.

I have a healthy appetite too but with raising levels of obesity and related diseases, I have decided to lessen the portions we all eat and allow my children to ask for seconds if they so decide. If they are still hungry when they go to bed maybe the following day I they will give them an extra potato and floret of broccoli.

A friend told me of a relative's philosophy. He lived in India and he lived till his mid 90s.

He said the key to a long life is:

At dinnertime, fill your tummy with 50% food, 25% water and 25% fresh air (by a leisurely after-dinner walk)

Sounds good to me. Now, I just need to find the time!

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