“Let them eat all the Halloween candy they want.”
“All food is good food.”
Nutritionist and dietician Terri Ney, RD was on the latest episode of the Moms You Meet on the Playground podcast and brought a fresh perspective on our relationships with food. She explained that all food has calories and our body needs calories to survive, so…let’s eat! Here’s Terri’s advice.
Become An Authentic Model
It’s important to be patient with yourself because as an adult, you have to unlearn quite a bit before you can be the model you want to be for your kids. This is a big shift from the decades of programming you’ve received.
Start by removing the negative talk about your body. When you’re saying positive things (or simply not saying the negative), you’ll start thinking this way. Eventually, this will translate into how you live and therefore, how your children learn to think about their bodies from you.
Avoid Restricting Foods
Remember when you were younger and the adults in your life told you “no”? This pretty much ensured you were going to do the exact opposite. Surprise surprise: your kiddos are no different.
Ultimately, you empower the things you are trying to restrict. So even if you’re understandably trying to limit foods that don’t provide much nutritional value, you’re actually giving power to that food.
Let Go of Vegetable Anxiety
You’ve heard the message in movies, tv shows, books, magazines, and elders in your family: “Eat your vegetables.” It’s enough to drive every mother crazy everywhere. If we’re being honest, for the most part, kids don’t really like vegetables.
Terri Ney says, “There is nothing special about vegetables. Fruit provides all the nutrients that vegetables provide.” a variety of fruits you’re not going to lack in anything that a variety of vegetables would provide. Vegetables can be a long-term plan.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Your kiddos will get all the nutrients their bodies need from a variety of fruits. That doesn’t mean not to offer veggies and model eating them, but you don’t have to pull your hair out worrying about how you’re going to get them to eat it.
The Division of Responsibility
Ellyn Satter is known for her Division of Responsibility model for eating. In a nutshell, it’s the adult’s job to decide what’s served and to determine the schedule for snacks and meals. It’s the child’s job to decide what and how much to eat.
When deciding what to serve, it’s up to you to decide what is considered “acceptable” food that you’ll serve. Keep in mind that it does need to include something they will eat as part of the meal.
The idea is that you’re giving your child some autonomy over what they eat without having to do made-to-order meals for each person. As time goes on, they have the power to try new things without feeling like it’s a chore.
If your hope for your children is to have a great relationship with food and ultimately their body, give them the opportunity to figure it out. Sometimes they will overdo it, and they may even get sick, but they are learning their limits.
Every parent wants to be perfect for their children. You want to do and give the perfect things to your kids with regard to toys, food, friends, experiences—everything. However, you’re human and it’s impossible to be perfect. Practice doing the best you can while giving yourself grace along the way. If you’re interested in learning more from their conversation, listen to the podcast episode: Unlearning Our Relationship With Food.