An essential framework to consider during mealtimes and meal preparation is the “Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding” model, developed by Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and family therapist (2015). This model aims to foster a healthy relationship between children and their bodies by encouraging them to trust their hunger and fullness cues. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of both the caregiver and the child during mealtime. The caregiver is responsible for determining what, when, and where the meal takes place, while the child is responsible for deciding if and how much they eat. The primary goal of this model is to create a positive and enjoyable feeding experience that promotes interaction between the caregiver and the child. This approach can be applied throughout the various stages of a child’s life, from infancy to adulthood. It is crucial for the caregiver to consistently provide nutritious meals and snacks to support the healthy growth and development of the child.
An example of this model applied to mealtime by the caregiver is when they prepare a balanced meal with a variety of protein, vegetables and carbohydrates in a setting that allows for a positive interaction. During the meal, the caregiver allows the child to make the independent choice of what and if they will consume the offered food. To encourage a positive interaction the caregiver can engage with the child in conversation. By implementing Satter’s model into mealtimes it will empower the child to learn to acknowledge and honour their hunger and fullness cues, promoting a healthy relationship with food and establishing independence in their eating habits.
By Winter Marshall