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Will children, if left to make their own choices, naturally choose a balanced diet over all?

(18 Posts)
emkana Fri 22-Apr-05 23:24:10

I'm just having a debate with someone about this on another board. I'm very strict with regards to eating (see my earlier thread here and I'm just being attacked for this... one argument being what I wrote in the thread title. I don't think that is true at all! I don't allow the dd's to just eat the pasta or whatever and leave the veg, they have to eat a good portion of everything if they want pudding.
I do feel slightly guilty about this, though, as I have a vague feeling that this is the wrong thing to do... on the one hand, but on the other hand I strongly feel that I can't let the dd's eat whatever they like! Really unsure about this at the moment...

hunkermunker Fri 22-Apr-05 23:25:36

There was some research about this ages ago - I did a search for it a while back for something else I was doing and yes, they will.

JoolsToo Fri 22-Apr-05 23:27:59

what if presented with chips or celery sticks they'll go for the celery sticks?

Gwenick Fri 22-Apr-05 23:30:10

'over all' it says not at one meal.

To me a balanced diet is making sure that they have the right number of 'portions' EACH DAY - so if all he eats at dinner is broccoli and cauliflower, lunch he may well have had sliced ham and cheese and toast- and breakfast wheetabix - with bits of fruit during the day.

JanH Fri 22-Apr-05 23:30:23

Most children probably will, over a long period. Penelope Leach quoted some research in Your Baby and Child.

DS2 wouldn't though!

Chandra Fri 22-Apr-05 23:31:55

DS would only take the healthy option if there were no option at all, if he had the choice he would only have chicken nuggets with potatoes, that's the reason they are now banned at home. Though.... I have not yet managed to get him to eat vegetables if they are not disguised under cheese or on sauce. Forget about the promised pudding, DS would rather go to sleep hungry rather than touch a carrot! and I know it for a fact

hunkermunker Fri 22-Apr-05 23:32:51

I'll see if I can dig up that research again - but the main thrust of it was that if you offer a variety of foods, including the not so healthy ones, and let the children choose, for the first few days, they'll go mad and eat all the crap, then they'll calm down and start eating a balanced diet.

There was another piece of research about making food 'forbidden' and then letting children have it - the ones who'd been forbidden from eating a particular snack went overboard scoffing it in the time they were allowed it - the ones who'd been allowed to eat it as and when they fancied it were far more shruggy blase about it.

Chandra Sat 23-Apr-05 00:03:19

YOu had to be right Hunkermunker. My mother banned biscuits from the house and we could not get near to a box of them before swallonging it all in less than an hour

Blu Sat 23-Apr-05 00:12:14

I think DS would, as long as there were elements from all food groups that he likes - i.e lots of broccoli and apples, not just carrots or grapes which he won't touch.

He isn't a brilliant eater - anything else is more interesting - and I haven't managed it v well from the start. But I have never held pudding up as anyhting more special or desirable than savoury food. The other day DS, 3, spotted a bag of left over easter rabbits on the table while eating hs spaghetti bolognaise. He asked for one, and I said 'yes' , He picked up the whole bag, took one out, ate it, and got on with his spaghetti. The friend who was with me nearly fainted - from the shock at my appalling parenting - I mean who lets their child eat choc mid meal - but more because of what DS did. Later i asked DP what he would have done and he said 'let him have a choc. he'd have one and get on with his dinner. If you say 'no', he'll just fret for it and not eat his spaghetti properly'

Blu Sat 23-Apr-05 00:13:15

This morning there were apple slices and a shortbread biscuit on my tray of coffee. DS came in and ate the apple first, and then the biscuit.

hunkermunker Sat 23-Apr-05 00:23:13

Totally agree, Blu, about not making pudding seem more special than dinner. LOL at mid-meal choc though

bobbybob Sat 23-Apr-05 07:28:42

My ds will sometimes not want a slice of orange and other times will eat a whole one (he then gets a cold the next day and I think "aha, needed the vit. C")

Sometimes he will fill up on meat and leave the veg, other times, exactly the same meal he will do the opposite. Sometimes he only eats carbs. Over the course of a week, he eats a balanced diet by himself. Over the course of a day I offer him all of the food groups.

WideWebWitch Sat 23-Apr-05 08:14:12

Emkana, keep at it I think. Children NEED fruit and veg and we need to make sure they get enough of them, I really think it's cruel to feed children crap. I don't even really do pudding or if I do, it's strawberries/other fruit and yoghurt. Ds is allowed chocolate/crisps sometimes but mainly if we're out somewhere, I don't really have any of it in the house and if I do buy it it won't be anything containing hydrogenated fat. I buy chocolate sometimes too but he doesn't know it's here! So I'll give it to him randomly. If he knows it's here I have to say he nags and nags and it drives me mad. So there you go, that's the result of not having stuff around all the time, a child who nags when he knows there is something sweet in the house, so I certainly don't think I've got the balance right really I do bake cakes sometimes too so I know what's in them and I get nagged about those too and a batch is usually gone in a day. But ds mainly has to eat something healthy or not at all really. Dd is a funny one, so far - she's 17 months - she doesn't like chocolate or ice cream!

Fran1 Sat 23-Apr-05 08:28:20

My theory is to not make a big deal out of things.

E.g say absolute no to choc ever, thats what they are gonna want.

I have always been laid back about what dd eats, we have three healthy meals a day, if she chooses to only eat the potato at one mealtime thats fine. I don't force anything upon her. Pudding is normally fruit or yogurt so i don't take that away as punishment.

DD will normally eat veg/potato/pasta/rice but is not a big meat eater, occasionally tries a mouthful .

For snacks in between mealtimes she will sometimes ask for crisps/choc which i allow in controlled portions, other days she will ask for fruit or slice of bread which i also allow.

So there is choice for dd, but obviously i ensure the food i'm providing is majority healthy. Over the course of a week i know she is getting a healthy balanced diet.

This could either prove my theory right/ or it just means i have a good eater and next time round i may not be so lucky!

I think what i'm saying is if i had a child who refused to eat food fullstop, i would not have any junk on offer, so that the small amounts they did eat would always be healthy! But still i wouldn'd force feed or bribe.

Maisiemog Sat 23-Apr-05 09:12:36

This is an interesting thread. What I don't understand is why children will naturally eat a balanced diet when so many adults will not. Why do children have this ability and not adults, do they lose the skill later in life?
I don't know if anyone has been watching the Jamie Oliver school dinners programme on channel four, but those children definately did not take the 'healthy' option when presented with it over a period of time. Eventually they ate more healthily - after all nuggets were removed from the menu - and even then some of them went hungry for a few days. I find it hard to believe that those kids were eating preprocessed, nutritionally challenged food at school and going home and demanding fresh fruit and vegetables.

Maisiemog Sat 23-Apr-05 09:14:38

I love this thread, it looks as if it has been compiled by a bunch of insomniacs. (Or people with small children - externally imposed insomnia)

Fran1 Sat 23-Apr-05 09:18:00

Well thats exactly it.

children will enjoy and eat a healthy diet so long as the food made available comes under that heading.

My dd adores sweets and choc, but she knows these are special treats and wouldn't expect to be given them at mealtimes or any other junk such as chicken nuggets.
Therefore she happily chooses the healthy option, cos its the only option!
But as i said the more u are used to that food, the more likely you are to want that food rather than junk.

The occasionally times i do a "quick" dinner of fish fingers, my dd won't eat it, she'd rather i boiled a plain bit of cod for her.

bambi06 Sat 23-Apr-05 09:32:29

my dd has always been allowed to choose the foods she needs and she will def balance herself out ..she will have days where she will devour every sort of meat going then she`ll ask later on in the week for a plate full of rice and potatoes then another day she`ll ask for spinach and i`m not joking!!! theyre her fav veg plus she loves raw carrots but not cooked ..the only thing we have to watch her with is she gets cravings for sugar and will not limit herself on that but she does have a candida problem hence the craving for sugar!! but i firmly believe that life is too short to battle over the food issue and why make something only to have a fuss made and they wont eat it so it goes to waste then you worry because they havent eaten anything and the vicious cycle begins ..why not give them a would! so why not them and ask them what they feel like today and you1ll be surprised as it starts to level itself out dd also does nt like `junk food` and never really has but that may be that we ourselves dont eat it really so she has different tastes ..she loves trying new foods and is brilliant at restaurants .. however she has never liked mushy foods as in shepherds pie and i still dont understand why ..but she`s growing ,healthy and happy and most importantly knows what she wants and i like that in her .. i`m sure all these opinions will be interesting to everyone and they will have their own view point but thats what makes everyone unique so i `would go with what you believe in and relax and have fun.

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