Big appetites and parties don’t go great together especially when you throw in the moods and whims of a preschooler and the nutritional desires of a dietitian Mommy. My plan when it comes to feeding both of my children from day one has been – follow the DOR and everything will be okay, but even with that mantra in my head parties are hard. Maybe it’s because I feel like people are looking at me and judging – Do you see your kid? She hasn’t moved from that bowl of chips since she got here! – is what I imagine them saying. So how do I navigate the endless stream of parties? Here’s how:
• Stick to the feeding schedule. If the party is at 4 but snack is at 2:30, still give the normal snack and allow your child to eat her fill. If it makes you feel better, serve only healthy foods at that snack, but still to allow your child to get full. Do not skip snack because she’ll be eating later.
• Plate the treats at the party. Give a generous plate or bowl of anything your child wants. Allow him to choose his treats. Add a few fruits and veggies if they are being offered, but do not force your child to eat them. Just put them there.
• Cut him off with a choice. “There is so much yummy food here! You’ve had a lot of treats and there’s still more to come! If your belly is still hungry you can have some of these carrot sticks, or you can go and play.” This lets him know that he can come back for more, and cues him into his hunger and fullness cues. Chances are, he’s full and playing is a lot more appealing than carrot sticks, but if he choose carrots sticks then – awesome, he’s eating carrots!
• Don’t call attention to her big appetite or publicly shame her. I know there is a trend to public shaming lately, but please don’t do this to your child, especially when it comes to eating.
• Watch the drinks. Since drinks really just add calories and do little to aid with fullness, I have no issue with putting your foot down on the number of sugary drinks you’ll allow.
• Help your child off-set the treats with a lot of movement that day. Give your child extra opportunities engage in active play on the day of the party, but please don’t tell him he’s working off the calories!
With the right mindset and tools you can take the stress out of feeding a big appetite at parties. Going in with the right feeding skills will teach your child that parties, and the food that comes along with them, can be enjoyed without guilt or shame.
~ Katie Mulligan MS, RDN, LDN. I am the past owner of Nurturing Nutrition. Now I’m busy raising and feeding two kids and working full-time. I will be doing a few blog posts for Stephanie. Hope you enjoy them! Comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you!