You will likely not do a good job of eating if you are casual about feeding yourself, grab food when you happen to think about it or when hunger drives you to it, absent-mindedly snack and nibble instead of taking time to feed yourself, or chronically restrict what you eat. People who create meals for themselves do better nutritionally than those who graze, and they also show superior patterns of blood lipids and glucose metabolism.
When you think of meal planning, think of strategies, not rules. If you wait for hunger to strike, you will grab what you can, often a high-calorie food. That is the natural response when you are hungry and desperate to eat. When you have a meal and let yourself leave the table feeling satisfied, you know you’ve been fed and you can forget about eating for a while. When you eat on the run or graze, food is always an issue.
Children who graze don’t learn to enjoy a variety of food, but only eat their favorite foods over and over. What they need is sit down meals with sit down snacks in between planned by an adult. At these snacks and meals, children determine when they’ve had enough, not the parents. So it’s important to have an adequate amount of each items so that there will be leftovers. There’s no other way to know if your children have eaten enough without leftovers.
Satter suggests that parents makes meals that they like. Children should learn to eat what the parents eat, not the other way around. She encourages parents to cook their child’s favorite food from time to time – sometimes he gets lucky, sometimes someone else does. And trust him to cope.