Dana Snook is a family nutrition expert based in New Jersey, USA. When we were chatting over twitter and Dana mentioned that she had done some training with Ellyn Satter that had radically changed how she worked with families , I was keen to hear more. I invited Dana to write a guest post about what she had got from learning from Ellyn Satter and how it had shaped her as a professional. I can remember the excitement when I accepted my first Pediatric Registered Dietitian position. I took the position with only a small amount of experience,but ready to learn everything I could. The realism hit, when the retired pediatric dietitian who was training me was less than impressed with my lack of experience and even more so my thoughts on feeding children. She wanted me to give meal plans, calculate calories and even put kids on diets. Let’s just say, it felt wrong...really wrong! So rather than learning from someone with LOTS of experience, I went right to trusty old Google. What I stumbled upon was so much more than just WHAT to feed your family, but HOW to feed your family. It is called the Division of Responsibility of Feeding by Ellyn Satter.
I bought up every book she had and devoured each of them. Not only did the advice make sense, but it actually worked. I saw parents breathing a sigh of relief when I didn’t take all good tasting food away from their family. I was able to counsel parents of picky eaters on how to turn their cautious picky eaters into enthusiastic eaters. However, with all this good knowledge came my desire to learn more. I made the best decision I have ever made for my career that day and joined Ellyn Satter in her intensive workshop on child development and feeding.
Working with Ellyn Satter, we dissected the Division of Responsibility inside and out and worked through how to apply it to picky eaters, overweight and even underweight children. It even freed my own distorted thoughts on “healthy food” and taught me sit down and actually enjoy good tasting food.
When following the Division of Responsibility of Feeding the parent is responsible for what, when and where the food is served. The child is responsible for how much and whether to eat from what is served. Sounds simple, right? The concept is simple the implementation can be a challenge especially depending on the parents view on nutrition and eating. The key is remaining consistent with the process because some results can happen fast, while other families must invest in the process long term.
A family who chooses this method can expect to come out of the process healthier and more competent eaters. Here is what the Division of Responsibility of Feeding may look like for a family:
1. Confidently choose and prepare a well balanced meal
2. Provide a sit down meal or snack every 2-3 hours
3. Never talk negatively at the table
4. Not offer snacks or drinks (outside of designated times) with calories
5. Support their children exactly as they are
1. Come to the table eager to eat
2. Be comfortable around food they do not like
3. Learn to sneak up on new food and try it
4. Grow in a way that is right for their body
5. Self regulate their eating (eating when they are hungry and stoping when they are full)
6. Behave well at the table
Following the Division of Responsibility changed how I viewed feeding myself, my family and my clients!
For more information, ideas, and resources, visit Dana's blog www.nutrition4family.com . You can also find her on Twitter @danasnookbiz