Welcome to Growing Up with Dr. Sarah!
May 18, 2022

Mindful Eating and Responsive Parenting:

There's such a rise in childhood obesity and the risk of being. Overweight or obese as an adult. So we want to provide some important messages and strategies to give caregivers, to improve dietary weight, and overall healthy outcomes in children.

So feeding guidelines on what and how to feed your infant and toddlers in the context of their growing, you know, childhood and in the context of being a responsive parent. So responsive parenting, as it relates to feeding soothing sleep and physical activity is interrelated. If a parent responds to hunger and satiety cues, instead of using food to soothe, then this will help the child sleep better and become more active when they're awake and also helps self-regulate their appetite. I love saying this to parents in my practice.

So, what is it about the feeding behaviors that we need to know? Well, development, temperament, and personal experiences, as well as medical needs have to all be taken into consideration as well as their environment, the family dynamics, ethnic dietary practices, but also food accessibility.I always thought the word Jags was so funny, but basically what that means is that it's normal for kids as they get older, especially from toddlerhood and up to have moments where they just don't eat as much. It's important that we offer new foods several times. And this is a concept that becomes difficult because we have to be persistent as well as patient as caregiver.

I want to go over some key steps about these principles of responsive feeding. So a child displays hunger, the caregiver properly interprets hunger signal.

Predictable feeding responses from the caregiver, depending on how they're eating the child displays satiety signals, and you get a predictable stop feeding response from the caregiver. The outcome of this responsive feeding is that the children develop healthy eating habits.

They know when they're hungry, they know when they're full, it provides a stronger bond and they learn that mealtime can be fun instead of a strict. The key principles are to be pleasant, to be warm and setting that nurturing environment, 

 Make sure the child and the caregiver are seated comfortably across from each other near each other, have clear and consistent reciprocal communication about feeding expectations. Have predictable feeding schedules so that the child is hungry when the food is actually offered an offer, offering healthy, developmentally appropriate beverages.

The offering of healthy, developmentally appropriate beverages and healthy tasty foods is so important. We wouldn't expect a child to eat something that is not really tasty. You would need it either and responding promptly to the child's hunger and satiety cues so that you're not pushing for that to bite tango.

They learn that when I'm full it's okay to stop. Feeding response needs to be emotionally supportive, contingent and developmentally appropriate. I just can't say that enough now, as they become older, they're toddlers preschool school age, we know, all know. Okay. We all know that there are some additional challenges.

Some key issues for those toddlers and preschoolers is now they're transitioning to a cup and utensils and feeding themselves. Their fluctuation of appetite can be frustrating. They're not getting enough iron and zinc, and we really want to avoid that overconsumption of juice and sweetened beverages.

And developing routines for healthy eating and activity is so important. I had a family the other day and the child gets soda pop. When he's with dad with dinner every day and the mom, she is much more. But not at the mom's house. So I had to in a very sensitive way, discuss the importance of what I call some of the time foods and then all the time foods

And we had a talk. That soda is really just a, some of the time food and not an everyday all the time food. So even using strategies and language so that the child can understand is just as important. Now, as they get older, we do see an inadequate intake of fruits, vegetables, calcium, because their milk and vitamin D as well, cause milk intake becomes lower.

they tend to avoid those energy nutrient dense snacks and go for poor snacks, such as salty snacks, cookies, and sweetened beverages. And ultimately it leads to an over consumption of. And then a consequence of that is the development of a poor body image. So we want to stress the importance of nourishing our body so that we feel good on the inside.

 Remember that you provide, they decide

So let's talk about some strategies on how we can encourage them to eat more of a variety.

Make these things accessible. I found in my home that I would have all the fruits and vegetables available, but make them accessible in ways that kids can grab and go like make little snack packs of baby carrots or cut up the cantaloupe or cut up the cucumber.

Wash the grapes and have them in little bunches,

As they get into school age, they're less likely to go into the refrigerator and choose those items versus grabbing what's easy, such as a set of crackers.

Add them to sandwiches, pasta, chili soups, and casseroles pizza. You get the idea and remember that you can puree some things and sneak it in there such as pureeing, spinach, and pureeing kale.

Just remember, don't put in too much of the spinach or kale because it'll make that smoothie look green and may not be as appetizing to a young child, add things to cereal or on top of pancakes or in pancakes and provide them as snacks as I mentioned, but you gotta make them readily available. Chances are, they may not go into the fridge.

Repeated exposure is so important. and also talk about what it does for the body. Just understanding that it's good for them and how it makes them feel good and healthy and strong is so important as well.

Portion sizes are so important when it comes to eating. One thing I learned from a nutritionist that I found so helpful was that a portion size for a child is the size of the Palm of their hand. You've heard this before about. Our portion sizes as adults should be about the size of the Palm of the hand.

But the Palm of a child's hand is the portion size. They should be eating, not the Palm of an adult hand. So your child might be eating better than you think balance that plate.

 if you've got a paper plate, for example, draw a line. From north to south down the middle, and then on the right side, draw a line that is perpendicular to it and tell them that the larger part of the plate is where they should be eating all their fruits and vegetables.

Fill that plate with fruits and veggies. The upper portion can be a lean protein. The lower portion on the right side would be their grades. So that they learn that half of their food should be fruits and vegetables on that plate.

Just remember that water is wonderful. A lot of times kids don't want to drink just water, even adults.

So infuse that flavor with things like apple slices, berries, melons, oranges, lemons, cucumber mint, and Bazell offer milk. Offer water in a different cup. Use a fancy straw, give it in different temperatures at ice cubes, with different shapes or even add frozen berries as ice cubes. Water should be the preferred beverage when they're eating out or milk.

Enable children to try new foods with foods that they're, they're familiar with and emphasize the relationship between food in regards to taste temperature, and texture.

I know that mealtime can be stressful.

So I hope that these little tips. Make mealtime and playtime more fun for your families and leads to family bonding as well as healthy living.