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Tips for a happy home

What is the most important way to create stress-free mealtimes? In the book and in my practice, I often discuss the “Division of Responsibility” from Ellyn Satter’s principles. My philosophy for treating childhood obesity and creating a happy home environment is grounded in Ellyn Satter’s work. I believe in this so much, in fact, that I will not graduate a patient and their family until I am sure they are following the division of responsibility.

Here are some important ground rules:

  • Know your role in the feeding relationship.

  • You cannot and do not want to cross the line.

  • Stick to your role, and know that it is all that you can control.

  • Enjoy meals with your family.

Tips for making mealtimes more enjoyable:

  1. You are in charge of what to serve

  2. You are in charge of when to serve the food

  3. You are in charge of setting the tone for meals and snacks

  4. Make sure the whole family comes together

  5. Make it fun

The Division of Responsibility, adapted from Ellyn Satter’s guiding principles:

The parent or caregiver’s responsibility is to:

  1. Decide what food is served.

  2. Decide when and where food is served.

  3. Set the tone at mealtimes to make them enjoyable for the whole family (Dr. Patricia’s added twist).

The child’s responsibility is to:

  1. Decide if he or she is going to eat.

  2. Decide how much he or she will eat from the range of choices that you offer.

Follow these tips and I am sure that your child will normalize their weight and mealtimes will be much more pleasant for the whole family.


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