Workshop Handout - Child Care MAPP

Workshop Handout
Feeding Strategies to Support Children’s Healthy Weight
Appropriate feeding strategies can be used to prevent overweight and support a healthy
weight. Here are seven feeding strategies to support children’s healthy weight.
Strategy 1: Model healthful eating behaviors
When adults eat with children, they can show children how to try new foods, and to eat a
variety of foods. Modeling increases healthful eating behavior, because children are more
likely to eat the foods they see adults eating.
Strategy 2: Support children’s internal cues of hunger and satiety
Children are born with hunger and fullness cues that allow them to regulate their food
intake. Adults can provide verbal cues to children on the feeling of fullness and hunger. Too
often adults take over the child’s job of deciding how much to eat. When they do this, the
adults are suggesting, “I don’t trust your cues,” and in the long term the child is going to stop
trusting their own cues because the adults have taken over their natural self-regulation.
Strategy 3: Plan regularly scheduled meals and snacks
If adults fail to provide routines for meals, children’s ability to self-regulate caloric intake
can be disrupted. Without scheduled meals, children may experience greater hunger signals,
which may result in compensatory eating at the following meal.
Strategy 4: Offer a variety of healthful foods
Adults are responsible for selecting the food at mealtimes, and it is important that they
offer children a variety of nutrient dense foods. Children should be offered a variety of
nutrient dense foods that provide adequate vitamins, minerals and calories.
Workshop Handout
Strategy 5: Let children serve themselves
Letting children serve themselves can help children self regulate their food intake. Adults
still are available to provide assistance to children by giving them verbal and physical
guidance. Adults can cue children to take smaller portions initially, but reassure them that
they can serve themselves more if they still are hungry.
Strategy 6: Supportive Environment
A pleasant mealtime environment fosters children’s ability to self-regulate intake,
encourages a variety of foods, and promotes communication and interaction between
children and the adults. The way to ensure the mealtime environment is pleasant is
accomplished by establishing a positive physical, auditory, and social environment that is
comfortable, safe and with no TV.
Strategy 7: Avoid rewarding or consoling with food
When adults consistently reward and console children with food, they are creating a food
habit that may last the child’s lifetime. Rewarding with food elevates the preference for that
food. Further, rewarding and consoling with food along with other manipulative feeding
strategies to persuade children to eat more, eat less, or to behave in a specific way, hinders
children’s ability to self regulate intake of food.
The seven feeding strategies are guiding strategies for mealtimes with young children in
group settings that can provide an optimize mealtime environments to be supportive of
children’s healthy weight.
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