Thoughts on Feeding Children

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:

It is fine to abandon the “three meals a day” tradition; it is okay to let children eat twice or six times a day. Let your children have a say in what and when they will eat. Abandon the myths, the traditions, and the difficulty in attempting to control your child’s biological drives.

Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of securing the selection of healthy foods for the family and preparing the food in a way that makes it desirable. Children are responsible for deciding how much they eat. If they are in an environmental of healthful foods they will have no problem regulating variety and timing. They can choose what they eat, when they eat, and if they will eat. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Don’t offer a treat because the child was good or ate well. Offer healthy treats as part of the normal well-balanced diet.

If the family is having an “outside,” more conventional treat on occasion, don’t teach your child that is because of an achievement. If children are rewarded and comforted with cookies and ice cream, it builds emotional attachments to these foods. Special foods should be for holidays and the outside-the-home special occasion, not as a prize.

If childhood memories of vegetables included being forced to choke down peas, it does not help to nurture positive feelings and an affinity toward the taste of peas. Children will learn to enjoy these foods best by watching adults appreciate the flavors and health benefits in a subtle manner, which will lead to a lifetime appreciation of vegetables prepared in a variety of interesting ways.

Here is the most important: No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not prefer either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.

Parents must decide on the standards they want to set in their home. They should educate themselves, then come to an agreement about which foods are permitted and which are not. Whenever possible, consider your children’s input. Menus, school lunches, and planning what foods to purchase at the market should all be decided in advance to accommodate the likes and food preferences of all in the family. When you work together for the same goal as a family unit, you can encourage and help each other to eat healthier. Children can help parents, too.
Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
TwinToddlersDad - December 12, 2008 9:41 AM

Dr Fuhrman
A friend of mine recommended your book "Disease proofing your child". I am reading it right now. You have a very interesting thesis.
I agree with you about being a role model for your kids so they can develop healthy eating habits on their own. I have written an article on my blog on this theme.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on my article as well as the research from Dartmouth that I refer to in it. Thank you

Post A Comment / Question Use this form to add a comment to this entry.

Remember personal info?