Eating Disorder Prevention Tips: Don’t let peas start WWIII

Julie Dillon

If healthy eating was a religion, Ellyn Satter would be a prophet. Satter is a dietitian and therapist (like me!) whose decades long research focuses on preventing obesity and eating disorders. Particulars include how to get our kids to eat more fruits and vegetables without starting World War III. 
Satter’s research found we do not have to force kids to eat 3 peas nor do we need to puree cauliflower into brownies. Her research found relying on these methods harms instead of helps. What are we to do?
Consider the gospel according to Satter (click on for more information including source):
Parents are in charge of what to eat, when to eat, and the eating environment.
Children are in charge of how much to eat if at all.
How does this philosophy prevent disordered eating?
  • Children are exposed to a wide variety of foods which research suggests allows the kids, once adults, to have more variety in their food intake.
  • Parents providing reliable and consistent meal times helps kids to not feel overly anxious or insecure around eating. This stability allows a child to learn to rely on their own hunger, satiety, and fullness rhythms instead of external motivators to eat or not eat.
  • Respecting a child’s job in the division prevents unnecessary meal time conflicts and pressure.
If you currently use or teach this Division of Food Responsibility, why do you think it helps to prevent disordered eating? 

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