Tips for National Nutrition Month

Tricia Nilges (submitted photo)
Tricia Nilges (submitted photo)

March is National Nutrition Month. The focus of national nutrition month is to encourage individuals to be aware of the impact daily nutrition choices can have on your personal well-being and the environment.

It's a good time for people to learn about making informed food choices and to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Division of responsibility in feeding

Choosing what kinds of food is important, but having a good relationship with food is just as important and is also a part of healthy eating. Having a good relationship with food starts even as an infant. Parents and children each have their own jobs to do. Parents are responsible for what to feed their child when they are born (breast milk or formula) and the child is responsible for how much to eat.

It's as your child gets older that you also become responsible for not only what they eat, but when and where they eat. Your child continues to be responsible for how much and whether to eat the food provided or not. You continue to maintain the structure of family meals and snacks throughout your child's growing-up years.

Children are born with the ability to know when they are hungry and full. When parents offer too much or too little control during mealtime, they can disrupt their child's ability to listen to internal satiety cues.

The Division of Responsibility feeding model was developed by Ellyn Satter, registered dietitian, family therapist, author, trainer, publisher and consultant. Her evidence-based feeding method is used to encourage children to trust and use their natural hunger cues and instincts when eating. The following tips from this feeding method can help you develop a healthy feeding relationship with your child.

Parent's job

Select what food to offer. Parents should:

Select and prepare a variety of healthy foods and include foods they enjoy.

Be considerate by offering one food your child likes.

Teach children how to serve themselves.

Choose where your child will eat. Parents should:

Sit together with their child for meals and snacks to encourage food acceptance and model the behaviors you would like your child to develop.

Create a positive mealtime environment and avoid begging or bribing them to eat.

Decide when your child will eat. Parents should:

Offer meals at regular times.

Offer planned snacks since children have small tummies.

Avoid allowing your child to graze or eat foods between structure meals and snacks.

Child's job

Your child should be allowed to choose how much food to eat. Children should:

Choose from among the foods offered.

Eat the amount needed for proper growth and development and eat when they are hungry and stop when satisfied.

Your child should be allow to choose whether to eat the food provided. Children should:

Choose to eat foods that are offered.

Respectfully decline foods offered at meals or snack time.

Healthy eaters

Want to raise a happy eater? The benefits of Division of Responsibility in feeding are:

Children will acquire a natural preference for the foods their parents eat.

Children's bodies will grow the way they were intended. Children will learn to respect food and behave appropriately at the table.

Tricia Nilges is a registered dietitian and international board certified lactation consultant. She has worked for the Cole County Health Department for 21 years and is the WIC Program Nutrition Coordinator.

Upcoming Events