How to end food power struggles with children
When I was a little girl, I had to eat everything on my plate before leaving the dinner table.
My father thought it was his job to select the exact food I should consume and the exact amount.
Now, I don't know about you, but as an adult, if I had dinner with someone and they ordered not only my meal for me but also *required* me to eat every last bite before I could leave the table, I'd not be eating any food with them ever again.
This is a form of control. It fosters an unhealthy relationship with food and teaches children to ignore hunger cues from their bodies.
Is it surprising so many people have these issues as adults, and only 12% of American citizens are metabolically healthy?
You cannot force children to eat.
And it's wrong if you do.
Now, I'm not saying nutrient-dense foods should not be prioritized. Quite the opposite, but you have to let your children decide.
You choose what goes on the plate and what quantity. They decide what they will eat and how much.
Even children need autonomy.
They also need boundaries.
So in our house, things go a little like this:
We fill Darrows' plate with the food we've chosen. He eats all of it and is given more of whatever he wants if he wants.
If he doesn't eat all of it, we tell him he can eat whatever is on the plate that he chooses and can leave whatever he doesn't like, but we will only be serving food during the next meal.
If he doesn't finish a meal (say, dinner) and asks for food during our bedtime routine, we tell him he can have more food in the morning and eat more at dinner in the future so he isn't hungry.
No power struggles over food over here 👈🏼
It is no secret that families often have power struggles over food, but it doesn't have to be that way. Suppose we want our children to grow up to be adults who eat only until they complete, adults who choose various foods, and adults who prioritize protein and carbs when needed. In that case, we have to empower them with this autonomy while they are children.
Intuition is a superpower, indeed. Our children are born with a deep connection to this and can foster its powers. We need to stop teaching them to ignore it.
Only the person who lives inside the body can understand precisely what that body needs. Sometimes it's protein demands; other times, it's carbohydrate demands. Trust that your children will know. Please provide them with a variety of nutrition, but let them choose what they will eat and how much of that.