What is the most important way to create stress-free mealtimes? In the book and in my practice, I often discuss the “Division of Responsibility” from Ellyn Satter’s principles. My philosophy for treating childhood obesity and creating a happy home environment is grounded in Ellyn Satter’s work. I believe in this so much, in fact, that I will not graduate a patient and their family until I am sure they are following the division of responsibility.
Here are some important ground rules:
- Know your role in the feeding relationship.
- You cannot and do not want to cross the line.
- Stick to your role, and know that it is all that you can control.
- Enjoy meals with your family.
Tips for making mealtimes more enjoyable:
- You are in charge of what to serve
- You are in charge of when to serve the food
- You are in charge of setting the tone for meals and snacks
- Make sure the whole family comes together
- Make it fun
The Division of Responsibility, adapted from Ellyn Satter’s guiding principles:
The parent or caregiver’s responsibility is to:
- Decide what food is served.
- Decide when and where food is served.
- Set the tone at mealtimes to make them enjoyable for the whole family (Dr. Patricia’s added twist).
The child’s responsibility is to:
- Decide if he or she is going to eat.
- Decide how much he or she will eat from the range of choices that you offer.
Follow these tips and I am sure that your child will normalize their weight and mealtimes will be much more pleasant for the whole family.