Shaping your kids’ eating patterns
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By Andrea Holwegner, Calgary Herald Jan 26, 2011

It is amazing to observe my niece and nephew, who are almost two and four years old respectively, impersonate their parents. My sister Christa has been a devoted stay-at-home mom, teaching them life lessons, manners and healthy habits.

Recently, my sister baked a fresh batch of cookies; Matthew, who doesn’t get treats every day, was ecstatic to have such a decadent snack. He loved them so much that after lunch he was allowed to have one more cookie. My sister declined his polite request to have a third cookie, so while she wasn’t looking, little Matthew snuck a cookie under his chair.

Christa firmly said no, they would have some more cookies tomorrow – even after the little negotiator asked: “If I have fruit first, then can I have another cookie?”

While his question was valid, it brings up some important lessons when it comes to eating with young children.

Who is in charge?

Childhood nutrition expert Ellyn Satter suggests the best way to set your kids up for healthy eating is to understand the division of responsibility for caregivers and kids. Parents should provide structure, support and opportunities. Children should choose how much and whether to eat from what the parents provide.

From the time your kids are toddlers all the way through to a teenager, your job as a parent is to determine what, when and where to eat. Your children will be responsible for how much they will eat and whether they will eat at all. Once you accept this, feeding your family will become a lot easier.

My sister did the right thing in offering well-balanced meals but still leaving room for some treats – this way, her kids will learn to enjoy all foods and respect that there are no good and bad foods. She did, however, structure what would be offered and when. This made sure that Matthew didn’t fill up on too many cookies, which could have interfered with his ability to eat other meals.

Remember who is in charge. A four-year-old – or even most teenagers – do not have the wisdom to determine what to eat.

Modelling good habits

Your kids are like sponges. While external influences such as the media influence your child’s perception about body image and food, they absorb and learn the most from you.

A 2008 research review article in Eating Behaviours suggested that moms directly influence their daughters’ eating habits and body image. An October 2000 study in the Journal of American Dietetic Association suggested that from 34 to 65 per cent of girls aged five had ideas about dieting. In fact, when compared to girls whose mothers did not diet, girls whose mothers reported current or recent dieting were more than twice as likely to have ideas about dieting.

Your kids see everything, even when you think they are not watching. If you skip breakfast, yet tell them it is the most important meal of the day, can you see this disconnected mixed message?

Parents who model eating healthy foods and hold a philosophy that there are no good and bad foods set the stage for kids to have balanced eating habits.

Preparing food together, sitting down for meals as a family, keeping physically active as a family and having a healthy attitude to your own body are some of the most important ways you can boost your child’s body image and overall health for life.

Andrea Holwegner, “the chocoholic dietitian,” is the owner of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc.

Read more:http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Shaping+your+kids+eating+patterns/4173932/story.html#ixzz1CZClbhIC

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
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I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
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ARC Resources Ltd.

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