The years following toddlerhood are like a quiet after the storm. Kids tend to be more settled. Their eating likes and dislikes are fairly well established, and you, as a parent, finally relax, right?
Not so fast. Studies show a positive correlation between parent and child eating habits and that this a critical time to make sure that foods you bring into your home are wholesome and delicious. Eating habits that last a lifetime take firm hold now and the foods you prefer and eat on a regular basis have a definite impact on your child's preferences. Face it- they're at the age to notice whether or not you practice what you preach -- if milk is so important, why do you drink a diet soda?
In a study, done in Nebraska, it was found that kids eat better when they have company at meals. Slimmer children and their mothers talk more with each other and eat less, more slowly than fatter children and their moms. What a good reason to have family meals with lots of lively conversation!
As with toddlers, removing food contingencies (e.g. "clear your plate if you want dessert.") relieves the pressure to eat unwanted food. Keep alive your child's innate ability to recognize hunger and satiation and their ability to act on it. In a study by Dr. Leann Birch, 95% of kids who had a calorically dense morning snack ate less lunch than after they ate a low calorie snack. Only 60% of adults did! Don't make your kids a member of the clean plate club if they don't want to be.