Eat and feed with joyThe Ellyn Satter Institute blog
Are you a competent eater?
One of the important concepts that Ellyn Satter has developed and researched is that of eating competence. “Eating Competence is being positive, comfortable and flexible with eating as well as matter-of-fact and reliable about getting enough to eat of enjoyable and nourishing food.”
Adults who are a competent eaters
- Feel good about eating
- Have regular meals
- Eat as much as they are hungry for
- See “forbidden foods” as ordinary foods that you can eat in ordinary ways at meal and snack times
- Don’t make themselves eat fruits and vegetables
- Don’t automatically overeat when big servings are presented. They will eat it all if they want to, not if they don’t
Why does this matter?
So many people feel conflicted about eating which is a shame really. We have so much delicious food available – why not enjoy it? When you are worried about your weight, your body shape, your cholesterol levels, it is hard to enjoy food. Food becomes the enemy rather than your friend. Body image can become distorted and the cycle of yo-yo dieting begins. Rather than achieving an unrealistic goal weight you end up fatter and unhealthier than before you started dieting.
Eating Competence and Feeding Children
So what has this got to do with feeding children? Parents who themselves are competent eaters are more likely to feed their children so that they too become competent eaters. To become a competent eater, stop worrying about how much you eat and about your weight. Learn How to Eat
Many parents have grown up feeling that they should be thinner/fatter/have bigger muscles, instead of being satisfied with the body they have. We are continually being told what we ‘should eat’ rather how to eat to be competent eaters.
The first step to help your child to be a competent eater is to be one yourself. Becoming a competent eater is a process. It takes time. Start by having a meal and snack routine that works for you. As well as mealtime structure, give yourself permission to eat as much as you are hungry for at each meal.
More about feeding
- Follow Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding
- Avoid pressure
- Avoid restriction
- Evitando la Presión
- Children know how much they need to eat
- Family-friendly feeding tips
- How children become competent eaters
- How children learn to eat new food
- Sit-down snacks
- Using “forbidden” food