Our Power Lunch Series at Fidelity in Century City is growing from strength to strength and we have had some amazing speakers over the last 8 months. I have to say, I think that listening to Stefanie Tsabar has to be included in one of my favorite sessions! The topic - kids and food. As a mom, that can be one of the most challenging things to contend with, what to give the kids to eat; how to get them to eat more vegetables; how to get them to eat more period, how to get them to sit at the table...the list goes on. Stephanie is a coach that helps parents resolve their children's picky eating and obsession over sweets so that they grow up with a healthy weight and eat mindfully.
I can't say that I felt comfortable with everything that Stephanie shared, but I was certainly trying to keep an open mind and with that learned so much from her workshop and put some things into practice with my 3 and 5 year old immediately.
Managing the art of a peaceful, happy and tension free dinner time can be challenging at times. One participant talked about running after her kids to feed them dinner because they couldn't sit still at the table, another, who had a child that prolonged dinner time sitting at the table for too long! Stephanie challenged us to think about how we experienced dinner time growing up, and to examine the emotions that we're serving our kids during dinner time. Is there a power struggle? Are we forcing them to eat foods that they don't want to eat?
I had several 'Ah-ha' moments throughout her talk, one of which was that when we're forcing our kids to eat foods that they don't want to eat, we are forcing them and essentially 'teaching' them to over eat instead of teaching them to regulate themselves. Imagine if we were forced to eat every meal, and there was someone prodding us to eat foods that we didn’t want to. When kids are hungry they are going to eat, and when we force kids to eat their dinner with dessert being the ultimate 'prize' at the end of the meal, again we are forcing them to over eat and ignore their internal regulation to get to that prize. So simple, yet so true.
Okay, so here was the tip that had everyone gasping. Serve dessert with dinner, and let the kids eat whatever they want to, even if that means dessert first. Eeek...really? Did she just say what I thought she said? Yes, she did!! The psychology behind it is that kids aren't going to crave sweets as much if they can have it whenever they want. Psychologically, they feel like the 'sugar' is the prize at the end of the meal, but when it’s readily available for them whenever they want it, they begin to self-regulate. She took it even further and said to try laying out a ton of candy for the kids and let them have as much as they like, again they will self-regulate when it comes to candy too. I don't know if I'm quite ready to experiment with this one yet, but I probably will try it - kicking and screaming.
Serve dinner family style so that kids have a sense of empowerment and independence in choosing the foods that they want to eat. Also, when introducing new foods, add them in as a dish, but serve familiar dishes for them too. She also advised us to make sure that there is something that they can fill up on too within those dishes, and something that you know they will eat - even if it's bread. She talked about introducing foods in a non-pressured environment, which I really liked too.
We are definitely going to have Stefanie back, she has a really nice teaching style and serves up the facts and new things to try in such a non-imposing way and ultimately doesn't make you feel like you're a bad parent for some of your existing habits and practices. She intertwined her own anecdotes about her 8 year old son so nicely into her presentation to prove that we were ‘all in it together’ and she herself is still trying to new things. The message of 'stop trying to control your kid's eating experiences' was delivered in such a nice way that I know everyone walked out of there with a few more tools in their boxes to try.
- Allow your kids to have their own experiences.
- Pre-schoolers need snacks every 2-3 hours, and school age kids every 3-4 hours.
- We’re teaching our kids to ignore their internal cues, although we have great intentions, help them to self-regulate!
- Make meal time a non-pressure zone. When we trust them, they can learn to trust themselves.
- We are all animals, we know what we need to eat and how to self-regulate.
Stefanie had so much to share, this was less than 10% so definitely visit her site, go and see her speak, book a session with her and soak up all the great knowledge that she has in this area!
For more information about Stefanie, please visit her site at http://stefanietsabar.com/
Thanks again Stefanie!