You know how nobody has ever eaten exactly one half cup of pasta and felt satisfied in their life? Yeah. That. Diet culture and government guidelines are full of rules about the so-called right amount to eat of every food…. but they rarely match up with how much we—and our kids!—actually need to eat. So is portion control ever useful? And if not, what should you do instead? We talk about how to encourage kids to listen to their bodies, and offer tips for how mamas can ditch the guilt and practice intuitive eating as well.
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Gluten Intolerance and Sourdough
I mentioned that my husband has started baking sourdough (thanks to a friend who gave us some starter) and that I’ve been able to enjoy it despite a tendency towards migraines when I eat gluten. This article from Bon Appetit has more information on what might be at play—though, FYI, this study shows that sourdough is not safe for people with celiac disease. (And full disclosure: This seems to have been more of a first trimester pregnancy fluke than anything fermentation-related since my gluten-induced migraines are back now that I’m a little further along. Sniff.)
How Many Calories Do Little Kids Need?
According to feeding expert Ellyn Satter, “The average toddler eats from 960 to 1700 calories a day. Add on to that a normal 20% over and under day-to-day variation, and that child will eat between 760 to 2040 calories a day. Children of other ages show the same variation. If you are restricting how much your child eats or pressuring her to eat, her day-to-day variation will be even greater. Your child will eat less or more depending on who has the upper hand.” Which is to say that the more we try to influence how much our kids eat, the harder it can be for them to know how much they really need.
You can read more about this range, and find other tips to help you obsess less about what your kids are and aren’t eating, here.
What’s the Deal with Intuitive Eating?
If you want to learn more about the intuitive eating model, which is all about listening to your internal body cues as you make food choices, definitely check out Christy Harrison‘s online courses, as well as her podcast, Food Psych with Christy Harrison. And we’re also big fans of Caroline Dooner, creator of The F*ck It Diet. She also has an awesome podcast called The F*** It Diet Radio. This style of eating can take some work to get used to since so many of us are disconnected from our own internal hunger and fullness cues, but it can also be immensely freeing once you get the hang of it.
Tips for Teaching for Portion Control
We talked about ways to more subtly teach portion control by, among other things, using smaller plates for the kids. Their bodies are smaller and likely need less food, so both Virginia and I use salad plates for the kids and dinner plates for the adults. This way, the plates are the same—and they feel “grown up” to the littles, but they are more appropriately sized…and they can always have seconds! I like these white basic William Sonoma Pantry Plates which we’ve had for 7 years and have never broken.
My 6-year-old really likes the book “What Does Your Tummy Say” by Maryann Jacobsen, R.D. and I’ve found it be helpful in giving me language to talk to her about listening to her body with phrases she easily understands.
We’d love to hear how you handle portion control at your house. Comment below, rate and review us on iTunes or email email@example.com if you have a question you’d like us to tackle in a future show.