Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dinnertime: what's right or wrong?

This has been on my mind for some time.  We go through periods of time where the boys eat great and I don't have to worry about it at all.  Other times, I struggle with what to do.

Eating habits.  What do you do?  Do you try to coax your kids (toddlers) to eat what's on their plate?  I have mixed feelings about this. I have a habit of cleaning my plate just because the food is there and it shouldn't go to waste. Not necessarily because I am so hungry that I need to eat everything in sight. I don't know what my child's stomach feels like so is it fair for me to push him to clean his plate if he's not that hungry?  Doesn't that just set him up for the same bad habits I've fallen into, which have caused me to gain and struggle to maintain a healthy weight?

Sometimes we have a dessert that I am excited for him to taste.  If he doesn't eat his vegetables, should I withhold that treat? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  I don't want to set him up for resenting vegetables.  If he is forced to eat them, won't he soon start (if he already hasn't) to rebel against them? I don't want to set my kid up for failure. There are so many things to worry about as a parent that I never even dreamed of before.

Here's a scenario that happens all too often at our house.  I'll fix dinner and Theo will refuse to eat or barely pick at his food. No dessert.  We don't force or high-pressure him to eat.  Bedtime rolls around and conveniently, he's suddenly hungry.  Ryan says he shouldn't get another chance to eat dinner because then he's running us around like short order cooks.  Valid point, but I can't let him go to bed with his stomach growling.  What if he really is hungry? At that point it's been 7-8 hrs since his last meal and he really might need something.  Normally, if I have saved his plate, he will eat it.  Sometimes he asks for yogurt. I don't ever allow crackers or cookies in that situation.  The doctor actually suggested yogurt or cheese as a bedtime snack when he skips meals.  I'm just torn.

Both Theo and Dexter are thin, hovering around the 20th percentile.  It isn't like a bedtime snack is going to push them over the line to obesity. But should I be teaching them a lesson by sticking to a hard and fast rule about when they are allowed to eat?  I've read a million different things and theories.

What's yours?


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