There is such a huge problem in this country with obsession over food. Eating disorders are everywhere (afraid of food, restricting food, gorging on food, being addicted to food) and even if you don’t have an eating disorder, you are bombarded by the media with new diet fads, what is “good” to eat and what you should “restrict.” It’s extremely rare to come across someone who eats to live and has a healthy relationship with food. This is something I have thought about and read about a great deal. When it comes to feeding my kids, I want them to grow up with a wide variety of foods available to them, and to not have any issues with food. I don’t ever fight it or force it, restrict it or forbid it. I try to make it a non-issue. I think I was influenced mostly by a class I took in college.
We spent a unit studying Ellyn Satter and her philosophies, particularly on children’s nutrition. She is legit (a registered dietitian with 2 masters degrees and a million initials after her name). One thing that always stuck in mind was The Division of Responsibility. It basically breaks down who is in charge of what when it comes to feeding families. The parents are in charge of WHAT (to eat) and WHEN. Children are then responsible for HOW MUCH to eat and WHETHER (they eat or not). Sidenote: I haven’t read all of her philosophies on eating, so I can’t wholeheartedly say I am 100% on board with everything she says, but I do try to stick to this one thing.
We’ve been “taught” by many sources in society when it comes to food rules and what we should and shouldn’t do, so sometimes I have to force out that voice inside my head when it tries to contradict this. My little Wild One was such a RIDICULOUS eater when he was younger. He ate soooo much. Everyone commented on it. But he was also wild, so he quickly burned it off. He just needed fuel for all that wildness. One morning when he was 11 months or so, for breakfast he ate 4 waffle squares, an 8 oz. container of yogurt, a bowl of blueberries, and a whole banana. That’s more than The Mr.! I even asked the Dr. about it once because I had never seen a baby throw down like that! But guess what. He needed the food. I was responsible for providing meals and snack times and making it healthy stuff, and I let him dictate the rest.
Here’s proof. Little 11 month old Wild One after eating:
And then suddenly PANICKED for more food! (And a frazzled mom who couldn’t get it on there fast enough!)
Likewise, we need to trust our children when they are not hungry. There are times when I offer food to my boys and one of them gobbles it up and the other one picks at it. I have to let them. They will eat when they are hungry.
Little kids have an inherent ability to eat according to what their body needs and feels like. They never overindulge if they don’t need it. Somewhere along the line, we read something that tells us we should restrict something, or we learned to “clean our plate” or other eating habits. We unlearn what we had inside us as kids, and listen to rules we made for ourselves. That’s where the food issues start. I’ve noticed this so many times with my boys. If they get a treat on occasion, many times they don’t even finish it. They’ll take a bite or two and run off to play. It sounds ludicrous to us – who wouldn’t finish the whole brownie? KIDS! They got it in ’em. Let them do their part. Trust the system. It works!