TT: Breastfeeding and Eating Habits

Thoughtful Thursday:  Did you know that breastfeeding naturally establishes healthy, life-long eating habits?

A little deviation from all the beautiful MotherBabys we have been sharing with you as we ruminate today!  Have you seen THIS article in the New York Times?  It prompted today’s post.  Here is an excerpt:

“A 2007 study, published in Appetite, revealed that 85 percent of parents attempt to get young children to eat more at mealtime using praise, food rewards and reasoning. Another study, published in Pediatrics this May, showed that more than half of parents asked their adolescent children to eat all the food on their plate, while a third prompted their kids to eat more even when they stated they were full.

This isn’t about pointing fingers at parents. After all, getting children to eat all of their meal was a necessity for most of human history, when food was scarce. Children didn’t have the luxury of taking only a few bites or skipping a meal, because the next meal wasn’t certain. But today, we live in a food-plenty environment in which the next meal, snack and eating opportunity is certain and bigger than ever. Despite this reality, children are still born with the ability to regulate their food intake. Unfortunately, research shows controlling feeding practices, like “clean your plate,” negatively affect food regulation skills as children age.”
NYTimesBlog: Motherlode – Adventures in Parenting
“Saying Good Riddance to the Clean-Plate Club” by Maryann Jacobsen
August 2, 2013

Did you know that breastfeeding naturally keeps a child’s “empty/full” satiety meter working?  A MotherBaby with a working supply and demand mechanism makes enough milk to meet all of the baby’s daily nutritional needs.*  Breastmilk is delivered in the quantity that a child needs.  How it works when a child is nursing for nutrition: once the child is full, (s)he stops nursing, and they move on with their day until they are hungry again.  As they grow and start solids, they can follow that same “empty/full” mechanism that works.  The chances are very good that when they say they are full, they really mean it.

Thanks to parental instinct, and then the La Leche League meetings on “Weaning and Starting Solids”, we have never forced our Sweet Peas to finish eating the food on their plate. We offer healthy food and allow them to choose what goes on their plate.  The standard is a protein, a veggie and a carb choice for their lunch and dinner meals.** If the kiddos have food left on plate and are asking for dessert, we’ll say that if they have room for dessert, they probably have room for two more bites. Two bites and a dessert later, plates are cleared to the sink with no drama.  And sometimes there are no more bites and no dessert, or two more bites and no dessert…whatever happens, we want the children to feel like they are in control and that they are honoring their bodies.

When the kiddos do leave a full plate, as parents we try to remember to make it the next snack and/or next meal. While we don’t want to force food, we do want them to honor the fact it represents work to provide it and work to prepare it for them.

This system works for us, although I get a lot of grief from the grandparents about how we feed our children.  It was nice to get confirmation from another source that we are not totally screwing up our kids, in this area, anyway!

What do you think?  Are there any food wars at your place?

*Did you have a hard time making milk for your baby?  Did you have to feed your baby formula?  I am so sorry.  This post is not a judgement on your inability to breastfeed your baby.  I wish you were blessed with a wonderfully supportive lactation consultant who taught you to feed the baby first, and that they helped you with formula feeding to keep your baby’s inborn satiety mechanism intact by recognizing feeding cues.  It was probably so hard to throw that expensive formula down the sink!  If you did have a great LC, please leave her or his name in the comments so that other mamas can use them should a need arise.

**How the “Bowman Buffet” works in practice:  There are always two protein choices because I am a vegetarian and Bruss is a carnivore.  As for the vegetables, there is a constant supply of freshly peeled and sliced carrot sticks because those are a kiddo favorite, and there are always greens in the house – so they can pick carrots and/or salad.  When it comes to carbs, we offer today’s freshly made selection or a reheat of yesterday’s leftovers.  Buffet!!