Finish your plate ... now or later
Child: Mom, I’m done, can I go play?
Parent: Have you eaten all your food?
Child: But I’m full!
Parent: Finish your plate, there are starving kids who would love to have that food you are wasting.
Have you ever done this? We all have because that’s the way we were raised.
At one point we needed to be this way because there was a hard day on the farm ahead or because it might be a while before the next big meal.
Now that our children do not have a busy schedule of hard, grueling work, we need to change this.
The process of doing this unfortunately is teaching our kids to ignore their natural hunger cues.
We are born with the ability to know when we are actually hungry but over the years we train our kids how to not pay attention to that and eat whenever food is in front of them.
If you think of when a baby is first feeding, you don’t just feed it at a certain time always, you wait for them to tell you they are hungry. As they start to get older, most parents still allow the kids the freedom to eat whenever with the exception of dinner.
Year after year, we get more and more strict until they only eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe a snack. They eat because it is time to eat not because they are hungry.
As you force through hunger cues you can’t read when you should start or stop eating so a bunch of mindless calories start to add up. This can lead to added weight gain during childhood as well as lead to creeping obesity as they get older.
For the first time in history, the kids that are being born today are predicted to not live to be as old as their parents will live to be. This has to do with poor food and lifestyle of the kids.
To fix this we need to let them stop eating when they are full and start eating when they are hungry.
This doesn’t mean, however, they can stop dinner after two bites because they were snacking on candy the last two hours. It also doesn’t mean that 20 minutes after dinner they can ask for ice cream.
One strategy is to limit sugar intake between meals but that is another subject for another post. Another is to take their food when they say they are finished and put it in the fridge.
When they say they are hungry again, bring it out for round two. This way food doesn’t go to waste.
Proper portion size for kids is also smaller than for an adult. A serving is the size of their fist, not yours, so make sure your kids are not overeating. They should have a fist full of veggies, a palm of protein and a fist of fruit at each meal to start to build out a healthy diet.
When your kid asks to go play, let them.
If you want to keep your kids healthy and more active, check out our YouthFit class for ages 8-13.
Trevor Warnke, a 2004 graduate of Jefferson-Scranton High School, is CEO of Game Changing Performance, 708 N. Cedar St.
He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and is certified as a strength coach and personal trainer.