Seems that I spend several times a day discussing food battles with my patients and their families. I guess the longer I practice the more I don't think we should even have to discuss how often parents battle with their kids about eating.
From the early days of parenting when a baby is first offered either breast or formula, they are not asked do you like this?. It is taken for granted that an infant will eat and grow and there you have it. The easiest days of parenting, correct? (except for a few months of sleep deprivation). But once that baby begins to eat the discussions start about he makes a face when he eats spinach or she will only eat chicken tenders from Chik-fil-a, or he only likes pasta and won't eat meat, or even make 3 diferent meals for my 3 kids. If you have a child older than 9 months you understand what I am talking about.
Food is necessary to nutrition, growth and health. But, with that being said, parents have to trust that a child WILL EAT when they are hungry. Really, hunger drives us all to eat, eventually. That bowl or cereal, or the steamed vegetables or even the dreaded chicken breast will get eaten if your child gets hungry enough. I remember reading somewhere that , a parent's job is to provide food for their children at appropriate meal times, and child's job is to decide if they will eat it. In other words, make the meal whether for your toddler or teen and forget about it. Meal time needn't be a battle but more a gathering to enjoy being together eating is just a bonus.
As an adult, when you go to a dinner party, you don't ask what they are serving before you accept, nor do you tell the host/hostess, I hate lamb!!
With everyone back in school after a nice summer break, what better time to discuss school lunches, especially as they relate to healthy choices. The USDA (Department of Agriculture) has just issued new national guidelines for school lunches which will begin this school year. The new guidelines include calorie and sodium limits for foods served on the school lunch line and are age dependent.
The new guidelines also include the recommendation for more whole grains, and dark green, orange or red vegetables (color on the plate). Students buying school lunches must choose at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. Portion sizes may also be smaller as well.
These changes are all geared at helping students understand the importance of healthy eating and making good nutritious food choices. It is hoped that as students get used to seeing and eating healthier school lunches, the choices that they make at home may become better as well.
Students will also be able to choose from fat-free, low-fat and lactose-free milk and will be required to have 1 serving a day. Flavored milk will be required to be fat free.
Lastly, half of the grains served in a school lunch must be whole grain and by 2014 school year all grains must be whole grain rich.
So, if you are planning on packing your child's lunch this year, remember these guidelines as well. I think that a combo of packing healthy lunches on some days, while letting your child buy a school lunch on other days seems to be the perfect balance. Let your children help pick out healthy food choices to put in their packed lunch and they might even pick up a few ideas from the new school lunches this year too.
You can find the new guidelines at http://1.usa.gov/Qzd5Z7