Tuesday, January 19, 2010

breaking all the rules...

Count how many "rules" I break in the following narrative of our day. See if we agree at the end...

When I talk to families struggling with feeding, I stress the importance of structure. It is important to offer fat/protein/carb at every meal and snack, roughly every 2-4 hours. Most days I practice what I preach and things go pretty smoothly. Sunday was another matter and an example of how challenging it can be. In an effort to not go crazy indoors, we have been visiting the Oxford pool as M is really into swimming now. (After months of intense fear of getting her head wet.)

Anway. We enjoyed pancakes for breakfast (mostly carbs) with about 1/4 cup of high protein Greek yogurt. I had some business calls (which is rare on a Sunday) and spouse had to work- which is less rare. So, M watched TV with some cut up apples and a big bowl of popcorn which she nibbled from about 10:15-11:30. At this point I was starving so we had lunch around noon. M of course wasn't hungry having grazed all morning, so she had a cucumber with Ranch. (I had whole wheat bread, ham and cheese sandwich, cucumbers, clementines and milk.) Then we went to the pool. By 1:30 she was asking for food. I had packed clementines, a banana and a small rice Krispie treat. (The snack bar there serves popcorn, nachos, ice-cream and cookies...) She ate the Rice Krispie treat, half a clementine and then was dying to get back in the water. By 3:15 she was crying that she was hungry, which considering that she had had a mini cucumber and rice krispie treat in the last 4 hours was understandable. (For those of you who have heard me talk or read Child of Mine, imagine what her little blood sugar charting would have looked like. Probably crashing right around then.)
So we got home, she had some TLC crackers, cream cheese and a clementine. Then rushed off to church where they gave her a snack of raisins at 4:45, then home for dinner which was cut up veggies and dip, a salsa-based stew which turned out to be really spicy so we gave her left over mac -n-cheese (we had no fresh bread available.)
We ended up with a really haphazard day which felt off and chaotic. She didn't have time to sit and tune in to hunger (TV, the draw of the pool, rushing to church, then a snack on a snack.) Then I broke the cardinal rule and let her eat separate food (short order cook.)

So, we all have crazy days, and break the rules– but I'm not worried. It was an aberration, it wasn't alot of fun. It will happen again, but not too often I hope! Nobody is perfect, nobody has to be perfect. Do the best you can, be honest if you think you can do better, and realize that part of eating normally is "breaking the rules" sometimes.

What days like this in fact do is remind me of how much better our days are when we sit down to eat without distraction, take our time and have balanced offerings. It's a great motivator to keep up all that work.

"mistake" count: TV, rushing, did not offer protein with snack, short-order cooked, let her decide when to eat (though this was a byproduct of our off-schedule morning grazings)
6 and counting probably...


  1. I like that you mention not following "the rules" but I also wonder if it's necessary to call these "rules" at all or even to have all of them? I guess I don't understand what's wrong with letting her choose when to eat or presenting her with an alternate option if the main dish the family is having isn't to her liking, namely, giving her leftover mac and cheese instead of an extra-spicy chili?

    I guess I simply don't put that many limitations about what I feed my child and when, especially with regard to the insistence on protein/carb mixes (he's SUCH a carnivore that I tend to prefer to give him whole carbs/fruit/veggies as snacks, because at meals he will choose meat over anything else).

  2. Hi Heidi.
    great comments! I guess I was a little tongue in cheek referring to them as "rules." Part of what I was describing is called the Division of Responsibility in feeding, which the ADA says is the "best way to feed children." Here's the gyst, Parents job: what, when where. Kids job: how much and if. If what you are doing works for you and your child (and his temperament) and you're all happy and getting a varied diet, you are probably doing fine. The research shows though that the DOR is a great feeding strategy. It works for "picky"eaters, kids with big and small appetites and importantly gets the power struggle out of feeding. I do offer protein/fat and carb every 3-4 hours because it gives the most even blood sugar (energy,) helps kids feel full and satisfied until the next meal/snack. Please see past posts on feeding tips for DOR, or see Ellyn Satter's website for a definition. I see lots of families with 3 kids, and they are all so different that moms have a much better time doing the DOR vs letting kids eat different things, or push etc.

  3. I don't think about "rules" when it comes to food, either. We have a breakfast that would probably qualify as "french" (bread, butter and jam/honey/Nutella sometimes, with milk or tea for me, or sometimes cereals and milk), a small snack in the morning wich is generally carbs, bread, crackers, sometimes with cheese, then lunch, not always a snack in the afternoon, and dinner. I'm trying to have them eat a balanced diet over a few days, some days they don't want vegetables, someday they will each have 2 tomatoes and share one big cucumber. Maybe I should try to get stricter ?

  4. I think you're right on track. I should have put "rules" in quotations. I mean more general guidelines about feeding. One of the hallmarks of a normal relationship with food is being able to "break the rules" now and again. The more you push kids to eat, the worse they do and the more battles you will have! If they eat well over a few days and everyone is happy and growing well then you're doing great!