Setting New Relationships with Food

Youngest is not long on her weaning journey and once again, my Husband and I are treading the tricky path of setting up a child with a healthy attitude to food.

When we first took this task on 2 and a half years ago with our son, we both discussed our associations and feelings towards food and what we wanted to achieve from weaning for our kids. I am absolutely hands down an emotional eater. Feeling crappy lets make (and scoff!) cakes. Feeling happy, let’s celebrate by eating out. Feeling bored, you can find me nit picking around the snack cupboard. This of course is largely my own doing but the foundations for this were definitely laid in my childhood, as my parents definitely fit the same positive reward mould when it comes to food.

My Husband whilst a very healthy trim weight admits he comes from a ‘finish your plate’ household. He feels uneasy if his plate holds leftovers and will eat past the feeling of comfortable to finish his serving.

These were two profiles that we were keen not to replicate for our children and so we decided on a few ground rules for ourselves on our food parenting ethos:

  • Never say no. We wanted to teach our children that no food was off the table. We weren’t going to banish chocolate, jam or raisins, instead we set out to teach that these foods are OK, in moderation.
  • Leaving food when you’re full is fine. Tummy full up, then just say and we wouldn’t force the rest of the plate to be eaten. However you stay at the table till all members of the family are finished.
  • Don’t prejudge on what they will or won’t like. If Eldest overhears us discussing whether we should serve up a particular vegetable or item on his plate, pondering if he’ll like it, it is almost a guarantee that he won’t try it. He will lock his lips and refuse point blank to budge on giving the food a good go. Now all items are offered openly (we were gobsmacked when he absolutely loved curly kale!) and if something does cause him some hesitation, we ask him to lick it a few times and that usually gets him feeling more confident that he will or won’t like it.
  • Pudding isn’t a treat or a special occasion thing. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. More often than not, it’s fruit, like his beloved pineapple or strawberries, sometimes it’s yogurt and occasionally it’s custard, rice pudding or mousse.

Touch wood, all these rules have worked well for us. We’ve lucked out with a little eater who adores vegetables, scoffs fruit and if full will leave chocolate mousse or ice cream quite happily in his bowl. Phew. Now we just have to achieve it all over again with Youngest! What are you’re top weaning tips for healthy, happy eaters?

Youngest May 2014 IMG_1231 IMG_2853 Eldest Nov 2011

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