Are you fed up battling with your child at mealtimes?
Frustrated about spending hours in the kitchen only to have your child turn their nose up at your meals?
Confused about the best way to encourage your child to eat?
It’s time to learn about The Golden Rules of Feeding!
Introducing The Golden Rules
The Golden Rules are a science-based approach to mealtimes based on the work of American dietitian and psychotherapist Ellyn Satter, author of the Division of Responsibility in Feeding, which is considered the gold standard to feeding children.
To reduce stress at mealtimes it’s important to have a clear understanding of who’s responsible for deciding what – the parent or the child.
Essentially, you provide the occasion for them to eat a healthy and pleasant meal. The offer is theirs to accept, or decline. There should be no further discussion; the roles are clear – kids know what is expected of them and parents do too.
practicing these rules at different ages
examples of how this might play out
Scenario 1: My child comes to the dinner table most nights and completely refuses to eat.
Solution: Your child is within their right to choose not to eat. We understand you may worry your child will go to bed hungry, but consistency is key, so avoid caving to your child’s pleas for an alternate meal. Remember to include a ‘safe’ food on their plate, something you know they will eat. Their hunger cues will prompt them to eat more at breakfast the next morning, or you may choose to schedule a suppertime snack. You can also offer a small snack before bed such as yoghurt or a piece of fruit. With time and persistence, they’ll enjoy a full dinner.
Scenario 2: When I serve my child dinner, they will usually only eat the carbohydrate component.
Solution: Recall The Golden Rules – it is your responsibility to decide what foods are on your child’s plate, where they eat and at what time. It is completely up to them to choose what they eat. So, if they choose only to eat the pasta or rice etc., that is fine. Make sure there are still veggies and a source of protein on the plate too. If they ask for more, give it to them. To increase variety, try offering a different carbohydrate food each night.
Scenario 3: My child asks for food outside of scheduled mealtimes.
Solution: You may find this happens when you first introduce a mealtime schedule, before your child becomes familiar with it. As difficult as it may be initially, adhering to your scheduled mealtimes will pay off in the long run. As long as you are offering regular, balanced meals and snacks your child’s hunger cues will take care of the rest.
The Golden Rules are a simple approach to making mealtimes less stressful. They can take some time to master, so be patient and consistent because they really do work.
Anna Debenham & Alex Parker. The smiling dietitian duo behind The Biting Truth, are leading Australian health and wellbeing experts. Throughout their years of experience in the industry, the duo have a passion for providing no-nonsense, science-based nutrition advice and support to families.
Their website, (thebitingtruth.com) and Instagram (@thebitingtruthkids) is packed with practical advice, healthy recipes and tips and tricks for parents to help raise healthy eaters!