Often, in my sessions with parents and their children, I use phrases to help support healthy changes around feeding and eating. One of the strategies that has been particularly handy for parents is to set food boundaries, such as:
The Kitchen is Closed.
Is your kitchen always open, always a mess, always in production? Ever wonder if this is healthy? Sustainable? Or the makings for a crazy momma-lady and an out of control eater?
While some parents may believe that closing the kitchen is a cruel act toward children, I find it to be a healthy way to set limits.
The kitchen is closed:
- allows for space between meals and snacks
- encourages predictability with timing of meals and snacks
- supports the foundation of structure and rhythm for daily meals and snacks
- promotes food security in children, through knowledge that food will be available at predictable times
If the kitchen is always open:
- No limits are set around food and eating
- It’s “food for everyone, all of the time”
- Regular and rhythmic eating may change to impulsive and less intuitive eating
- Overeating becomes a strong possibility
The kitchen is closed is particularly useful when you have done a good job at providing meals and snacks to children in timely intervals. Make sure you have regular times when “the kitchen is open…for breakfast, for snack, for lunch, etc.” Then, when your child comes to you an hour after eating dinner, wanting something else to eat, the kitchen is closed is a clear boundary. If this is initially upsetting to your child, assure him/her that another meal or snack will be available soon. Encourage your child to eat at meals and snacks, when the kitchen is open. Soon, your child will learn to eat at meal and snack times, learn to do other things in between, and feel secure that his/her hunger and nutrient needs will be met regularly.