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Halloween and laying our own feeding ghosts to rest…

Posted by on Nov 3, 2010 in Blog Posts | 10 comments

Halloween can test even the most confident feeder. Every year I pull out Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter and re-read her Halloween section. It’s my little pre-Halloween ritual 🙂

It’s pretty funny as she tells the story of a local TV reporter asking her about Halloween candy. Her answer basically is, let them eat as much as they want for that night and the next day, then incorporate a few pieces as desserts or with snacks every few days. The TV reporter was taken aback and thought it was dangerous. I love that the TV station felt compelled to put a disclaimer on the screen as Ellyn was being interviewed! A reminder that this feeding philosophy is often seen as radical…

But, it works. When you have an approach to sweets that includes them, makes them a given experience, and not the forbidden fruit, it can go pretty well. What I love to hear most from readers is how their children are thriving with the Division of Responsibility with feeding. (Parent: What, when, where. Kid: how much and if from what you provide.)

The kids are doing well, and the parents are amazed, in awe and inspired. Parents are healing the wounds of their own feeding histories and making it better for their children. And-our kids can be a major inspiration to rethink, revisit and revise our own eating experiences. Being aware of our own feeding history and being open to learning, changing and making reality better for our kids is a major accomplishment. This mom who wrote in should feel proud..

“As for Hallowe’en, I had one of my proudest feeding moments last night. We brought home the loot and I checked through it while my daughter sorted it out. I told her she could have as much as she wants and she chose two chocolate bars, then she said “that’s all I want tonight. It will still be here tomorrow so I don’t need to eat any more right now”. This kind of blew me away. To see such a blatant expression of her self-regulation brought tears to my eyes. I would never have done that as a child. She has always been a good eater but now that we’ve backed off completely and let her take control of her whether and how much, she is so mature about it. Her attitudes about eating are so much better than my own. I’m honestly still reeling from it a little bit. It’s so different from me when I was a child. Every year I would vow to make my Hallowe’en candy last until my birthday (Dec 1), it never did

another mom:

“We enjoyed Halloween. After trick-or-treating I let my kids eat as much candy as they want. It is so gratifying to me that all together they probably eat 3 or 4 pieces. It can look like more, because they can try it and throw it away if they don’t like it, but all told it really isn’t that much. It is rewarding to see the continuing evidence that we are doing “works.”

Thanks for sharing! How are you making things different for your children and how are they motivating you?

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  1. jessidehl

    We’ve been doing the DOR for almost a year. I started because of the way I was raised (not fabulous by any means) and my kids are doing great on it. Our meals are so no pressure that when my daughter plays with her best friend (across the street) they always end up back at our house to have supper.
    This post gave me a chance to really reflect on how far we’ve come…I have pictures of my kids from last year at ages almost 2 and almost 4 standing on a kitchen chair trying to get their buckets of candy from the top of the fridge.
    This year, they got to eat as much as they wanted on Halloween and the next day. Now they know that with lunch they each get a couple of pieces (plus they pick one to share with daddy). We have the candy buckets sitting on the kitchen table and no one bothers them. If they ask for a piece, I usually say yes and after the first couple of times they lost interest.

    • katja

      SOOO cool! Thanks for sharing. It can be really powerful to have such a concrete example of how much progress you have made.

  2. Cindy B

    I am so happy you posted this. I have been wondering how to handle this issue. Intuitively I did what you suggested. Today, 3 days out, the candy bag is still pretty full and my daughter has moved on to other things. I am so glad!

    To Erinn—don’t give up—it takes some kids a long time to “get it.” My 14 y/o took several years (at least 4 years) – at its worst I would give myself a time-out at dinner. Now she eats a wider variety of foods and has introduced us to some new ideas. Our greatest challenge now is finding time to eat together as a family. Good luck!

    To Katja- thank you for this website and its positive ideas. I love it!

    • katja

      Thanks for sharing Cindy. It can be a slow process. Glad to hear your not-so-little-one anymore enjoys a variety of foods. Would love to hear how you make the time to eat together!

  3. Jennifer

    Erinn L, I know how you feel. I’ve got quite a picky eater too and progress is very slow. Big progress for him is eating one noodle when he hasn’t eaten any noodles for over a year. Or even just him talking about eating something new. I try not to compare him with other kids because that just make his progress seem so inconsequential and is very disheartening. But it’s hard not to compare especially when I hear how other people start following Ellyn Satter’s model and they see quick and huge changes in their kid’s eating.

    Katja you should have a “picky kid” blog post one day and Erinn L. and I will declare our picky kids’ successes. Like: “He ate A GRAPE and then three weeks later he ate ANOTHER GRAPE!!!!” and “He touched some CHICKEN!!!!” LOL

    • katja

      it does take some time. much longer than most parents would like… I think the positive attitude about food is so critical, not getting into pressure with feeding etc.Often people see quick improvements in power-struggles, mood at mealtimes etc. The variety often takes a little more time. The more limited the child is at the beginning, the longer it will likely take. The longer the child has been pressured,the longer it will take. Any sensory issues or autism issues will also mean it takes longer. Even typically developing kids who start out with a pretty good variety of foods often takes months to see improvement in variety. One mom called me six months after two phone visits for a child who was really doing quite well to begin with and she was thrilled at some breakthroughs- but it took 6 months even in that situation. Hang in there. DOn’t worry I will address picky eating more soon! Love that you guys are supporting one another.

  4. Kate

    I love that they included a disclaimer. I don’t think anyone who’s seen the Division of Responsibility in action would think it was “radical”.

    As someone who’s eating was very controlled, as a child, who’s Halloween candy was repossessed the moment I walked in the door, I can tell you that I totally binged on candy while trick-or-treating. I didn’t really enjoy the candy, just wanted to eat as much as I could before having it taken away.

    • katja

      I hear you about this all not being radical. Alas, to the world at large the solution to feeding issues is control. Kid “too heavy?” Eat less and move more… Kid too “small” give ’em Pedialyte and push the food… The message of this trust model of feeding is NOT the norm for our culture, and pretty much not what most health and nutrition professionals, magazine article and book writers practice…
      Is FEELS radical or revolutionary bc we are in the minority, we are questioned and challenged.

  5. Erinn L

    I’ve been plugging away slowly at Child of Mine since August. I have kids in several categories and with school starting… anyway, I haven’t gotten far. I wish I had read that section before Halloween. It would have been a great lesson in trust, which is the part of my middle child really needs. So far, my 5 year old is doing great with the DOR, but my almost 4 year old picky eater is still struggling. I think he’s making progress considering his extreme food aversions, but my husband disagrees. The fact that he smiles when he dishes his food onto his plate, even if he does only eats yogurt or apple sauce for dinner, motivates me to keep going. The past year previous, every meal ended in time outs, tears, tantrums, or stand offs and for what? A couple of peas, a kid who hates food, and a family that hates meal time.

    • katja

      Sorry I didn’t give more of a heads up… Good news is there is always next year! You are SO new to all this. Please give it time and don’t give up. One of the keys to good eating is first to feel good about eating and meals. So, you and your child have made HUGE progress. No more tantrums and stand-offs (that wasn’t helping was it?) I know that the second part of the “progress,” seeing the child actually eat a wider variety can feel painfully slow, but be assured that your child will eat better in the long run without the pressure. Ellyn Satter will be coming out with shorter format books that I think will be a boon for busy families, and Dads (frankly) who don’t seem to read the parenting/feeding books as much as the moms do. (I know my Hub hasn’t read COM, but he gets it and had agreed to follow my lead initially when it was new to us…) I’m so glad you have seen positive results. Keep going, keep tweaking. Keep honestly assessing your motives, meal interactions etc. Some kids are INTENSELY sensitive to pressure. I often will do a phone consult with clients after they read the books to answer lingering questions, or just bring home a few areas of skepticism. I know I needed that extra support after reading COM and putting it into practice for a few months. Good luck and keep me posted!