“Leverage” decisions are things you do when you knowingly or unknowingly influence eating behaviors of your kids: 

Modeling eating behavior (children copy you)
Involving your child in planning, shopping and preparation (“pretend” involvement also counts)
Teaching eating techniques (trying out new foods, chewing thoroughly, eating mindfully)
Designing the social aspects of meals (making mealtime pleasant, bonding)
Feeding without pressuring the child (by being in charge of what food is on offer when and where, leaving the child to decide whether to eat or not and how much)

1. Modeling eating behavior

Parents are usually unaware of the strong impact of their own eating behavior on the child, that is why they skip meals, drink soda, don’t use portion control, eat for other reasons than hunger. When parents use their child’s tendency to copy by consciously modeling how they want the child to eat, they themselves experience health benefits.

2. Involving your child

It is one thing to shop and prepare a meal on your own, and a very different thing to teach and supervise kids' messy involvement in food selection, purchase and preparation. Once the parents let go of expectations, preparing meals becomes a bonding experience as well as the best predictor of healthy food choices made by the child on their own.

3. Applying eating techniques

Children are very rarely taught what to expect when tasting new food and how to experiment with and compare different smells, textures and tastes. Conditions of eating usually discourage thorough chewing and mindful eating. Have you ever checked if your child chews thoroughly? When a child learns how to try out new food, they’ll eat a more varied diet for life.

4. Designing the social aspects of eating

Eating together is a powerful family and character building experience, on the condition that it is pleasant for everyone. For most parents, eating together quickly descends to disciplining and by extension provides pressure on eating.Once parents are able refrain from commenting on child’s behavior (eating or otherwise) the benefits of family meals multiply.

5. No pressure feeding

The parent is in charge of what food is on offer, when and where; the child should decide whether to eat or not and how much. Pressure to eat or force applied to how much it is eaten teaches a child to ignore signals from their bodies and eat for other reasons than hunger. Once parents use this (admittedly un-intuitive!) technique, kids can begin practicing eating for hunger and being able to self-control portions. Click here for more about the division of responsibility concept developed by the Ellyn Satter Institute

Your turn:
Think about how you make these types of feeding decisions? Do you get them all right?

The rest of the course will teach you better strategies to employ in order to feed your children real, nutritious food.

Next lesson will be about how you select food from what is available to you

Feed well,