General Question

Dutchess12's avatar

Especially in America, do we generally have this idea that when a kid says they're hungry, they have to be fed right then and there?

Asked by Dutchess12 (1575points) April 22nd, 2009

I mean, really. It’s an hour before dinner will be ready. Your child’s whining that they’re hungry….do you give them a little something (and a little something more, and a little something more) so they’ll stop “whining”? And then get upset because they aren’t hungry for dinner? I figgure, if you’re going to do that, give them “a little something and a little something more” from whatever you’re cooking for dinner, then leave them alone if they aren’t all that hungry for dinner. They got the nutritional value out of what you were cooking for dinner…and that’s what dinner is all about, right? Nutrition? However, if dinner is also about getting together as a family, starve the buggers for another hour and they’ll be right there, part of the family, ready to eat!

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47 Answers

Facade's avatar

Yea, I disagree. Health is more important than family togetherness.

Dutchess12's avatar

@Facade Disagree with what?

SeventhSense's avatar

I don’t have kids, yet anytime I babysit my nieces or nephews, I can always make them wait until the meal is ready or just give them something real light like a pretzel to tide them over. My sister in law indulges them all the time though and then wonders why they don’t eat dinner. You can’t tell a parent anything though. I learned that as a teacher. Kids are indulged with instant gratification far too often. They’re in no danger of starvation. As of the latest studies, 60% of them are clinically obese.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If kids are on a meal schedule then I’d have them wait but if mealtimes vary by a few hours from day to day then I’d give a bit of food, a slice of cheese maybe.

Facade's avatar

@Dutchess12 Starving children extreme, I know

Dutchess12's avatar

@SeventhSense You got it..“A” pretzel! Not the same thing as a whole bag of pretzels just before dinner!

Likeradar's avatar

I know some people would like their children to learn to listen to their bodies when it comes to appetite and food. You’re hungry, you eat. You’re not, you don’t. It might actually be a healthy way to go about things, even if it doesn’t fit into a set time schedule.

Dutchess12's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Again…“A” slice of cheese! Good point!

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
sounds nice in theory

Dutchess12's avatar

@Likeradar Well, I agree….that goes with my philosopy too, but…it depends on if you are prepared to have “instant food” ready…like grapes and cheese and “trees” (Uncooked broccoli”) ready for that moment they’re hungry….or if you have a houseful of people and it’s just convenient for you to whoop up a meal for everyone to eat at once. Also, our bodies get tuned in to eating at certain times, too…..

Likeradar's avatar

@Dutchess12 and @SeventhSense Yeah, I’m not sure how well that theory works in a real-life situation. I’m on the fence about how I’ll do it when I have a family.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
The problem is that when you start making too many concessions, before you know it, they’re waking you up at 4 in the morning and saying that they want ice cream!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I agree with @Likeradar. I was definitely raised on the “Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re not” plan, and I’m SO grateful to my parents. I have ZERO issues about food, diet, my weight, body image, all that stuff that my female friends seem to get so worked up about. I LOVE food, I enjoy eating a healthy diet, and my body is very healthy and looks great. Of course I run, as well. But my body looked great before I was a runner.

We always had nutritious food on hand in my house growing up, fruit, vegetables, cheese, whole grain bread, yogurt. I really don’t think it was that big of a deal for my mom to open the refrigerator and hand me an orange. Just like today, I don’t see it as a monumental task that takes a lot of energy, to open the refrigerator and get myself an orange when I’m hungry.

I honestly feel sorry for people who’s parents tried to control what, when, and how much they ate.

Likeradar's avatar

@La_chica_gomela My parents tried to control it. Huge portions (of mostly healthy food though), “clean plate club” membership, sweets were a big deal for when we were “good” and seen as a bonding experience, no snacking before dinner… I have food issues. I have never been obese, but I have always been about 10–20 pounds too heavy for my liking, aside from the 6 months or so I had a borderline ED and was too thin and calorie obsessed.

Having a relaxed attitude about when kids eat seems like a good idea, but there has to be a healthy medium between no structure and too much structure.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Likerader, what is ED? I googled, but I really don’t think any of those things that came up were what you’re talking about.

Why does their have to be such a thing as not enough structure?

I mean, yes, granted, most days as a child, I had built-in structure in my diet because I had to eat breakfast before school, and I had some allotted “snack time” and “lunch time” etc, but when I was at home, I basically ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. (The only things that were really off-limits were what my mom or dad was in the middle of preparing right then because they would get frustrated if I kept eating the mushrooms as they were slicing them, and then only 2 ended up in the pan.)

The only food in the house was healthy food, and yes, sometimes I ate too much of the wrong things (the whole bag of dried mangos, or whatever), but it all worked out in the end.

IMHO, people’s bodies know when they’re hungry and when they’re not, and “structure” is just a nice word for telling people to ignore what their bodies are trying to tell them.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
i wouldn’t kick u out for eatin’ crackers..

Likeradar's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Ed= eating disorder. I may have made up calling it ED. :)
@Seventhsense- Thanks :) But what about a whole box of crackers, followed by guilt, followed by working out too much… :)

skfinkel's avatar

It’s a question maybe of whether or not you believe the child is hungry. If you believe him, then perhaps you would do what you could to take away the pain of hunger—an apple, an orange, a yogurt? If you think the child is lying to you, then that’s a whole other problem.

As for me, I would believe the child, and treat him the way I would want to be treated—ie, if I’m hungry, I want to get some food. If it’s before a big dinner, I would get a little snack. But hunger pains are no fun.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Likeradar: Thanks for clarifying! That totally makes sense, and in hindsight, seems really obvious, given the context. I think my brain turned off for a second. I was sitting there thinking, “Anorexia would be “AN” and bullemia would be “BN”...I wonder what ED is…?” palmface!!

SeventhSense's avatar

@Likeradar
Reminds me of an ex. She was a sweet little petite girl but definitely had some eating issues. As for me it’s other things. I would bring home some ice cream and she would throw it out. Later, I’d ask where it was and she would be like. “I can’t have that in the house”.

Dutchess12's avatar

@skfinkel OK, so the kid is hungry at that moment….and hunger doesn’t become a “pain” for days. Ask a starving Somilian kid. I would believe the kid is “hungry,” as in “I could eat right now!” But if I’m making a big dinner, I believe the kid could wait an hour without any serious pain or ill effects, and never having lied to me! Hunger pains never hurt anyone who gets enough to eat on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, as a well fed, healthy American, I’ve found that there are times that when you ignore them, they go away after an hour or two. That’s not the same thing as having not eaten ALL DAY, which I’ve done too. There is a huge difference between being hungry 4 hours after you’ve eaten a good lunch (and ignoring it—it isn’t “pain”. It’s habit) and eating for the first time that day late in the evening.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Dutchess12: But you’re setting your child up for food & weight issues if you do that, because by the time they do eat, they’re going to be a lot hungrier, and then they’ll be more likely to over-eat, and then they’ll feel over-full, uncomfortable, and unhappy afterwards. (This pattern is well-documented, has been shown in study after study, and appears in lots of magazines like Fitness, Shape, Health, etc, as a pitfall to avoid when trying to maintain a healthy weight).

And if you keep making them doing this, it’s going to become a pattern, and then they’ll come to associate food with these negative of overeating and feeling uncomfortable and ashamed.

Besides setting your children up for weight and diet issues, you would also be setting them up for blood sugar regulation issues. The longer a person goes without eating, the lower their blood sugar drops, and the then the higher it will spike when they do it. These huge swings in blood sugar are very hard on the body and can lead to a higher chance of developing Type II Diabetes over one’s lifetime.

My doctor told me that since my mother had Gestational Diabetes when I was in the womb, I will be pre-disposed to it, and I should do my bests to avoid drastic swings in blood sugar .

Facade's avatar

@Dutchess12 Hunger turns into pain (for me) as soon as I’m hungry..and that’s always. Again, starving children because you want family time is irresponsible.

SeventhSense's avatar

@La_chica_gomela
@Facade
There is certainly more evidence that our kids are grossly overweight from being constantly indulged with sweets and empty carbs than there are the incidences of kids starving. It’s called discipline and self control and it’s seriously lacking in our culture. We work, we eat and we live on schedules. That’s life. We’re not living in the jungle or grazing like sheep in a meadow.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@SeventhSense: I’m not talking about sweets or empty carbs. I’m talking about eating healthy food in a healthy way. Of course I have a schedule, but I still eat whenever I want—Not like a sheep in the meadow, and also not like a ROBOT. I am a human being. I don’t piss on a schedule, and I certainly don’t eat on one either.

SeventhSense's avatar

Maybe we can embrace the jungle mama philosophy. No joke- these mothers actually embrace letting babies and toddlers crawl and walk around and crap and pee on the floor.

Facade's avatar

@SeventhSense I graze and I have no schedule. Why? Because every day is different.
And I’m not saying stuff cookies in their mouths. I’m saying give the child healthy snacks.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Facade
I want your cookie..er the one your eating

Facade's avatar

It’s a honey bun :P

SeventhSense's avatar

well i’d like to take a big bite out of your honey bun. :0)

Facade's avatar

that sounded so sexual lol…and I enjoyed it

SeventhSense's avatar

innocent ole me? ;)~

Dutchess12's avatar

Guys, look above. If a kid is really hungry then yes. Give them a piece of cheese or something to tide them over until dinner is ready. Do NOT give them a box of crackers, which seems to be the knee jerk reaction in America. I’m sorry. I can’t believe this discussion has turned as Americaly insane as it has compared to the millions of truly starving children in the world, including America. Really….“Deprive your kid of food for one hour and they’ll develop eating issues and diabetes!” Only in America can we justify such insanity.

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t let my kids snack before meals. If I’m making lunch or dinner, and one of them starts complaining of hunger, I just explain that I’m making some food at it’ll be ready soon. They will not eat dinner if they have any kind of snack within the hour before the meal. If they’d accept a slice of cheese or some fruit or yogurt at a time like that, I might give in. They never want that kind of snack, and instead ask for crackers, cookies, etc. I’ll even tell them, “You can pick some fruit if you’re hungry, or grab a yogurt.” They just get mad and stomp off. I figure, if they’re actually hungry they’ll accept something like that. All three of my kids are beanpoles and very active. They don’t have to clean their plates, and I do tell them that if they’re full they can be done.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Dutchess12: You’ve answered your own question no less than seven times now. I’m starting to get the feeling you didn’t really ask this question to ask anything, that you just asked it as an opportunity to rant and rave about your opinion.

Do you think that you could please make your point without calling my opinion “insanity”? Thanks.

Because if I’m going to be insulted every time I answer one of your questions, I’d rather just not answer them at all.

skfinkel's avatar

@Dutchess12: I was going to say what @La_chica_gomela has said above. It sounds like you know the answer to your own question. So, why ask it? Are you surprised that people disagree with letting a child who is hungry eat a snack, before you serve your “big dinner”? What if the child doesn’t like the food you are preparing? send him to bed with no food? You have your ideas on this topic and truly don’t seem interested in hearing what other people think.

Dutchess12's avatar

@La_chica_gomela It wasn’t personally directed at you….it was a generalization that in America we have this idea that we have to “force” our kids to eat. To me that makes as much sense as forcing them to breath. Telling a kid that they have to wait until dinner is ready (an hour or less) to eat is not going to give them eating issues. What IS going to give them eating issues is letting them get full before dinner, then forcing them to eat dinner when they aren’t hungry any more!

@skfnikel I don’t disagree with letting the kid have a small, healthy snack before dinner—a piece of cheese, or some grapes or something. What I do disagree with is people handing their kid an entire box of crackers 15 minutes before dinner is ready, then yelling at them because they don’t want to eat dinner! As far as the kid not liking what I fixed….I took their preferences into consideration when I fixed dinner. If I was cooking fried chicken, mashed potatoes (which I knew they all liked) and corn, and I knew one of my kids didn’t like corn, I’d cook only enough corn for the three out of the four who did like corn. And again, it’s the sign of a spoiled nation when you have a kid who “doesn’t like” certain foods….can you imagine giving a starving Somalian kid corn, and him or her turning her nose up at it? Not liking certain foods (with the exception of foods that cause reactions) is a luxury that we, in America, can well afford. Just like if you’re rich enough you can choose what luxury car you want to own, and turn your nose up at a good used car.

MissAusten's avatar

So….if my kids were forced to eat foods they didn’t like, that starving kid in Somalia would feel better about his or her situation?

When I was a kid, I had to eat everything my parents cooked whether I liked it or not. Even when I was in high school, I’d get grounded if I didn’t eat everything on my plate. The foods I hated are still foods I hate. Being forced to eat liver and onions did absolutely nothing other than make me dread certain meals and think of creative ways to get rid of the food without actually eating it (thank God we had so many dogs and cats). So, I don’t bother to have those battles with my kids. I make foods we all like, or give the kid who doesn’t like asparagus some carrots instead.

We must be doing something wrong, because they really look forward to our family meals.

Dutchess12's avatar

@MissAusten Who are you talking to? the reference to the child in Somalia makes me think you’re talking to me, as in disagreement…...but I agree 100% with everything you just said! The reference to the starving child was that it is a distinctly American thing that kids here have so much to eat that they can afford to be picky, just like a rich person can be far more picky about what kind of car they choose to drive than a poor person. If a kid is really, REALLY starving, as in digging through trash cans for food, there IS no food that they would turn down….my whole point is, I think that generally, we in America, put too much emphasis on food and eating in general—we make too big of a deal about it, and it creates eating issues. Your story is a case in point—why should we “force” kids to eat something they don’t like, and usually force them to eat MORE than they even want, when we can easily afford other solutions? Gee, it’d be like going to dinner at someones house and having them setting down a heaping place of escargot and cat steaks in front of you and demanding you eat it, and eat it ALL. It would be a very rude thing for someone to do to you, and it’s just as rude to do it to children. To my other point, tho, if you were starving you probably would eat it all! But generally speaking, no one in America ever has to get that hungry.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Dutchess12: Don’t lie and say that wasn’t directed at me. It obviously was: “Deprive your kid of food for one hour and they’ll develop eating issues and diabetes!”

Those are the exact two real issues that I brought up in my last post.

Dutchess12's avatar

@La_chica_gomela OK. It was directed at everyone who thinks that depriving their kid of food for one hour means they’ll develop eating issues. If that’s really what you believe then, yes, that was directed at you. And a few million other people in the world. Put in a real life context of kids that don’t eat for days at a time, kids who scrounge around in garbage cans for food…...doesn’t the statement, “Deprive your kid of food for one hour and they’ll develop eating issues and diabetes!” sound ridiculous?

La_chica_gomela's avatar

No, it doesn’t.

Dutchess12's avatar

@La_chica_gomela OK, so your child has had a good breakfast at 8 a.m., and a good, filling lunch at noon….and at 4:00 starts saying he’s hungry….so what exactly would you do? Would you feed him until he’s not hungry any more, then go ahead a have dinner with the rest of the family an hour later while he watches cartoons or something? I’m really curious as to what you really would do…you have a houseful of people to feed every night, therefore you cook some kind of common dinner every night—or do you jump up and feed each person individually the moment they say they’re hungry? I guess that could work if you had nothing but, like cheese slices and grapes and banana’s and food that could be grabbed in a minutes. You could set your house up that way. It might even be a better way. Have all the food right there where they can reach it when they want….truly, might even be a better way! It’d make it a lot easier on the people who do the cooking and cleaning up after dinner! There would BE no clean up, because you’d have no dirty dishes!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Jesus, Dutchess, read my damn answer that I already wrote. I’ve answered this question multiple times now. YES I WOULD LET MY CHILD EAT! Just like my parents never prevented me from eating when I was hungry!

There are endless varieties of healthy food that does not need to be prepared, such as:

oranges, apples, bananas, dried cranberries, wal-nuts, sliced cheese, a carton of yogurt, a stick of cheese, a handful of crackers, a bowl of cereal, a glass of chocolate milk, a handful of baby carrots, etc, etc, ETC.

After about the age of seven, they know how to open the fridge themselves. It’s not that big of a deal!

Dutchess12's avatar

@La_chica_gomela OK! I believe you! If you’ll read the end of my last post, I’m trying to get a grip on actually raising your kids in such a way that you never have to cook! So that they’ll never, ever have to be hungry and wait for a while for food to be done. It just seems like it would be difficult to sustain a household of 5 or 6 on that kind of eating system. (In my experience.) Even though it is, actually, a more “natural” eating system for us. But I’ve been thinking about it, actually. I guess I could have just raised my three kids to go poke around in the fridge when they were hungry, and I wouldn’t have ever had to cook dinners like…..spaghetti, or burritos, or goulash, or…anything. But….I also had a daycare at one time…10 kids to feed and I KNOW that wouldn’t have worked!

SeventhSense's avatar

@Dutchess12
@La_chica_gomela
I know a couple of little ladies that are getting pretty cranky. I think it’s time for dinner. Now don’t give me a hard time or it’s off to bed with no supper for both of you.:)

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