No meat until you eat your veg?
March 24, 2013 12:17 PM   Subscribe

If you follow the advice of Ellyn Satter, how do you handle second helpings when your child wants more of one food but hasn't eaten even a bite of the other things?

We follow the idea of "division of responsibilty" -- we provide healthy meals and our 3YO son decides what and how much to eat. We don't do the recommended family-style serving of plates simply because it means too many dishes to wash--I put food on the plates in the kitchen, straight from the pots, and then set them on the table.

For the most part this works pretty well--we have no food struggles, and son has surprised me a few times by trying something I wouldn't have thought he'd try. He still tends to eat a lot of meat, cheese, and bread, though, and not so many fruits and vegetables. We get around this with smoothies in the mornings and pureed veg soups, for the most part.

My question is about second helpings: If he has say, meatballs, veg, fruit, and pasta on his plate, and he eats all the meatballs and nothing else and wants seconds, should we say "no seconds until you finish your firsts," meaning he has to finish the other three things before more meatballs, or do we just dole out more meatballs with no pressure? Or insist he try a bite of the other things before seconds? I'm shying away from any kind of coercion/negotiation/pressure per Satter, but it feels wrong to let him eat 43 meatballs and nothing else.

(Sometimes we're out of whatever he wants, so that makes that easy.) We rarely have dessert--treats are a sometimes thing in the afternoons.
posted by Ollie to Human Relations (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could consider when making meatballs, for instance, making enough for one serving for each person in the family. If there are no extra portions than it's not you saying "no". And, only put a reasonable portion on his plate so that, when they are done he will still be a bit hungry and the only option left is those brussel sprouts. Or, sort of what you said at the end there... you have your solution!
posted by HuronBob at 12:25 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm familiar with Satter, but didn't follow it hardcore when Kid BlahLaLa was little -- but if I'm remembering correctly, doesn't this line up with her concept that the kid decides how much & what? Meaning, no, definitely don't make him eat everything else before getting some more meatballs.

In this instance my instinct + my reading + advice from other moms would mean that I would let him have more meatballs for sure, and pleasantly suggest bites of the other items.

The most successful strategy in my home involved repeated presentation of food, meaning he might not want to taste the X till he'd seen it five times on his plate, but then he eventually would try it, and either like it or pass on it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:32 PM on March 24, 2013

Okay, Satter herself discusses it here. She says yes let him eat seconds and thirds of what he likes, and don't purposely run out of his favorites to trick him into eating something else.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:36 PM on March 24, 2013

Gah--thank you. I looked at her site before posting and didn't see this.
posted by Ollie at 12:39 PM on March 24, 2013

[A few comments removed; the question is only asking about people who follow Ellyn Satter's view, not about general input on feeding kids.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2013

I fed my daughter in a Satter-like way, but then and even now (she's ten) if she's eaten all the "good" stuff and wants more of it, but not the other stuff, I'll usually say, "Yeah there's more cheesy noodles, but do you want a few bites of broccoli first?" Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. I don't (and didn't) press beyond that, I don't say say she must eat some of the other stuff, I just remind her that it's an option. Sometimes she'll have the broccoli, sometimes she goes for the noodles, usually it's something in the middle.

I have no idea if it's philosophically sound, but for me it's just about making her thoughtful about what she's eating. She's a fantastic eater, and we both eat a wide variety of foods, but I guess I'm externalizing my internal voice that says, "Mmm fries. More fries. Do I want to finish the salad instead, maybe? Nah, more fries. OK, maybe that bit of cucumber, then more fries."
posted by looli at 2:43 PM on March 24, 2013

We usually go with a 'I want you to try the X' - even when it's something she's eaten before, we keep going with the 'try foods' approach because it's not about how many bites/what, but trying new things and textures and flavours.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:44 PM on March 24, 2013

IIRC Satter's idea (which I may be conflating with my own?) is to not serve anything you don't want eaten, if that follows. If the kid is eating too many meatballs -- instead of having a mealtime meatball argument, take meatballs out of your menu rotation for a bit.
posted by kmennie at 7:22 PM on March 24, 2013

[Commented deleted. Once again, OP is specifically asking "If you follow the advice of Ellyn Satter, how do you handle second helpings" and not requesting general advice for feeding children.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:24 AM on March 25, 2013

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