NPR Story On Picky Eaters (Ellyn Satter Haters Beware)

by Bettina Elias Siegel on February 15, 2011

There was an amusing story on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday about the reporter’s battles to get her three-year-old son to eat vegetables.  An excerpt:

“I only want mac and cheese! Not peas!” he said to me recently when I tried to tempt him with something green.

I replied, “Do you want to grow up to be a big boy or a little tiny boy your whole life?” But when you find yourself pleading with your 3-year-old, stoking fears of dwarfism, it’s perhaps time to call for help.

The story features kid-and-food expert Ellyn Satter, whose mantra is that it’s the parents’ responsibility to decide what is served and where and how it is eaten, but the child’s sole responsibility to decide whether to eat and how much.

In other words: hands off.

Not everything Satter says works for me, but that core thesis has always resonated and I’ve tried my best to use it with my own kids.  Yet I’ve learned since starting TLT that there are readers who are quite anti-Satter, a topic I’ll revisit in a future post.

You can hear/read the whole NPR story here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee February 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The first time I ever heard of Satter was in one of your posts :-)

However, my pediatrician recommended this method, years ago when my daughter was still a toddler. It probably doesn’t work for everyone (does any parenting method work for everyone?) but it did work for us. And it stopped me from the “short-order cook” syndrome. Sometimes she just ate bread for a meal, but she’s always been perfectly healthy and active.

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Milehimama February 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I’ve never heard of Satter. What works for us is giving two choices- take it or leave it; setting the example (it’s ‘normal’ for us to eat veggies, all the kids do it at mealtimes); and letting our kids choose 1 item that they never have to eat if they don’t want to (my 11 yo chooses to never have to eat lentils!).

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bettina elias siegel February 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Satter is pretty much take it or leave it, too, Milehimama. You and she would probably see eye to eye there.

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jenna Food w/ Kid Appeal February 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

can’t wait for your article about satter, will hold all commentary for that piece…..

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bettina elias siegel February 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I really want to hear what you have to say!

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jenna Food w/ Kid Appeal February 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm

the article got me thinking and i have plenty to say. i may write a post about it myself, if i can squeeze it into a busy month of school food reform planning, pilot drama, and landing a new client.

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