We have no control over what our kids eat. I can put various foods in front of my Paleo Toddler, but only she can chose to eat them. This is a hard concept for parents to wrap their heads around. We get caught up in wanting our kids to (just) eat something, especially if they are on the skinny side, so we provide them with less than nutritious foods because we know they will eat them. Can you see how your kids are the ones in control? The bottom line is that if you don’t want your kid eating something, it shouldn’t be in your home and you shouldn’t be offering it to them, or eating it yourself!
As I’ve mentioned before, we really lose control when our kids are out of the house. Whether it be at a play date, a birthday party, or at school kids are again free to choose from what ever food is available to them. Imagine how hard this is for parents whose kids have severe allergic reactions to certain foods? The best defense for all of us who want our kids eating the same nutrient dense and unprocessed food they are offered at home, is to begin a dialogue about food choices. We can only hope that our food and health values will be reflected in the ongoing choices they make for themselves.
Here are 3 discussions I plan on having with my Paleo Toddler about food:
1) Where does our food come from? For my family, these are minimally processed whole foods that grow on farms, in pastures, and in gardens. The animals we eat are free to eat grass, bugs, and whatever else they would eat naturally. Our fruits and vegetables are mostly local and seasonal.We have a small garden in our yard where we grow foods and can learn about the process and hard work that goes into making food. We visit the farmer’s market regularly and talk with the farmers about their animals, their produce, their challenges, their work.
2) How do we feel and how do we want to feel after we eat? We eat whole foods to feel full of energy, to grow our bodies to be strong, to supply our brain with the highest quality fats. When we eat too much sugar or eat something with gluten our tummies might hurt. When we eat foods that are harder to digest are intestine can get damaged.
3) Every family eats differently based on their values, their skill set, and their cultural background. Some of your friends may eat foods that you don’t eat and vice versa, it is natural to be curious about these differences. Let’s talk about how you feel when your friend eats a sandwich. Let’s talk about how you feel if you’ve had a bite of her sandwich.
As parents we can only do our best. At the end of the day when our little kids are away at school, we can only hope for the best. At some point they are going to take a bite of something either offered by a friend or available at a birthday party. Life isn’t about perfection, it is about learning.