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Using Food as a Reward

I use food as a reward for my little girl. There. I admitted it. I’m doing something I absolutely shouldn’t do, and I don’t know how I feel about it.

I was way more careful with my big girl. I never used food as a reward. Hugs and kisses, yes. A cup of yogurt or a bite or two of ice cream — never. I understood the dangers, of course. Still do. Equating food with anything other than nutrition starts a child down a slippery slope that ends with obesity or an eating disorder, according to researchers and child psychologists. It connects food to emotion. It places too much importance on food. And it definitely makes it harder to get the kid to do the desired behavior without food being involved.

I’m doing it, though, because she’s too thin, according to my doctor. Regular readers will remember that last month we had that whole well visit scare where the doctor told me that my little girl didn’t gain any weight and that she needed to see at least a pound gain by the next well visit. I’ve been trying to get her to eat more, but it’s hard. She doesn’t like to stay still for very long. Why take the time to stop and eat when there are so many more interesting things you could be doing? So I started offering bribes. “Please eat your potatoes? If you eat your potatoes I’ll give you a cup of yogurt.” And she’d eat the potatoes.

I know I need to stop. I know it. Kids should want to eat their scrambled eggs with mozzarella omelets without the need for a strawberry or banana chaser. They should welcome a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich even if there’s no cookie for dessert. But I’m afraid to stop — at least until June 30th when we have our next well visit. And then? I have a feeling going cold turkey is going to hurt her — and me. Sigh

This post links me into Real Food Wednesdays, a real food movement taking place across the Web. Check out some of my fellow bloggers by clicking through.

One Response to “Using Food as a Reward”

  1. tina says:

    I use food as a reward. If you eat all your dinner, you can have such and such. I’m not worried about future eating problems with my boys.

    I will tell you that the only time either of my kids put on any considerable weight was when we went on the GAPS diet. My younger son went from 5 percentile for height to 30 in five months.

    If I were you, I’d take out grains, sugars and dairy for a couple of weeks and see what happens. My older son filled out quite a bit but is still tiny.

    If you’re interested look into to the GAPS diet.

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