This is probably the most obvious topic for me to post on, as it keeps coming back into conversation over and over again. How much should they eat and what kid food is actually good for them?
In Poland, there seems to be an overwhelming interest in nutrition in general. This is especially so for the Ladies, with mums and grandmothers doing all they can to feed everyone around them way over the top. The approach to children is no different here, and to be honest, I often worry that the nutrition standards are not the greatest (although the kid food probably is!).
It has always been my opinion that mammals (including baby-humans) will never starve to death in the presence of food (including kid food). In other words, every child starting with a newborn and throughout his older life, will always let you know that it’s hungry. What’s probably even more important is that hey will tell you when they’re not hungry.
When my kids beloved Grandma is in the house (my mother-in-law, by the way…) they eat. And I mean – they eat all the time. It’s diffcult to destinguish the different meals of the day, as they are basically chewing things constantly. Between breakfast and lunch, there’s always the odd banana, a cookie or two, a sandwich bite and so on … Now, obviously the guys aren’t hungry but they’re generally absorbed by their own things and if you keep coming to them with a bite or two they will chow it down and not even realize it.
The contrary approach, which I certainly prefer, is at their kindergarten (or preschool? how do you actually call that place in English?). There are set meal times. There’s four of them, and the choices are quite obvious:
- 9:00 AM – Full, healthy breakfast (cereal, sandwiches, fruit, cocoa)
- 12:00 PM – Big lunch (a bowl of soup and a main course, generally meat with potatoes or rice and veggies)
- 3:00 PM – afternoon snack (generally something sweet like pudding or a piece of pie and then a lot of fruit to pick from)
- 5:00 PM – afternoon snack (sandwiches)
After that the kids go home and have dinner befor going to bed. So that makes five meals per day, and structured as to give them as much energy in the morning as possible while leaving the later hours for easy, light snacks. It works, they’re not hungry, there’s some discipline with the food times and I think it’s also quite healthy. By the way, the kid food they get at kindergarten is really delicious – too bad they don’t sell some for the parents, especially breakfast
I am quite worried that the “grandma way” as I described above is a typical way for raising overweight children. Of course, today that won’t be apparent – considering how much they move around, jump and run about all day, they probably burn more calories per day than I do in a week. But this will eventually stop as they grow older, have to sit behind a school desk and decide that nothing’s more fun than 24 hours of computer games. And when that happens the food habits may stay – which is probably why some of us end up stuffing our faces constantly with things we don’t really crave or need (chips, sweets, the extra side of fries and so on).
Kid food can be “enjoyed resposnibly” when parents care for a proper feeding scheme. The five meals a day thing is in my opinion great. Apart from making sure that children receive as much food as they need (but not too much more) they also can provide for a happy and friedly family life. Here’s why:
When food is on the table, the kids are actually hungry. That means, they will spent some time sitting down with you at the kitchen or living room table and eat. This is a great time to chat and laugh (they’re not allowed to do that in Kindergarten, mind you, but at home I think it’s perfect). Also, they are actually sitting down by a table like human beings and are using forks and knifes rather than chowing down something (they wouldn’t even know what) while chasing each other through the hall. Not to mention the risk of choking …
So much on my thoughts about “feeding times” – I will eventually get to posting something on kid food in general, because as much as our Polish habits when it comes to amounts may not be the best, our habits with respect to quality certainly are. So I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, please also check out my Blog of Poland site – you can find some interesting stuff on visiting the country, travel plans, prices and Polish business. Perhaps you’d like to come visit one day