What do you do when you’re at the store and your little one wants a sugary cereal? Are you nervous to get the sugary ones?
Just last week we went grocery shopping as a family. Family grocery shopping has it’s own unique set of challenges – everyone (ahem, I mean my husband and daughter) are adding things “not on the list” into the cart. In an attempt to streamline the process, I sent my husband and daughter to pick out the cereal.
I’m sure you know where this is going. They came back with Lucky Charms – my first instinct was no way. Instead, I asked, “Lucky Charms, why Lucky Charms?” My 5 year old with a huge smile said, “I saw it on my Youtube show.” (Insert eyeroll here)
I can remember as a child, wanting to buy these cereals – however – I was always met with a no. You know what I learned? I learned these cereals were bad. The outcome: I still ate them – I just did it in large quantities at my friends houses. I’ve committed when I had to my daughter to breaking the cycle of teaching foods to be off limits and so I added the box of cereal to my cart. Let me tell you why…
Raising children who are intuitive eaters with a positive relationship with all foods means serving all foods. Children who know they can regularly have these foods will eat them when they are in the mood, eat the amount they want/need and move on. However, children who feel as if a food is bad for them or restricted from eating them are more likely to feel guilt and shame when they do eat them. This leads to either overeating them or sneaking them when no on is looking. In some cases, children even associate themselves with being bad after eating foods they are told are unhealthy.
Raising an intuitive eater is no easy task today. Everywhere you turn diet culture is telling us eat this, don’t eat that. This is bad for you, sugar is poison. You get the point – there are strong nutrition messages everywhere. It’s important to weed out these bias around food to raise your children to have a good relationship with all foods. Even as someone who does this work and has worked on my own bias towards foods – this one crept in without me even realizing it.
You Too Can Break the Cycle and Raise Intuitive Eaters By:
Work on Your Own Bias with Food
We all have had experiences around food – some are good and some are not as good. If we have negative memories or thoughts around certain foods you will be more likely to avoid serving them. These negative thoughts could have been passed on from well- meaning family members or from previous diets you followed. Maybe as a child you had no issues with Lucky Charms, but after following a low carb diet you eliminated it and never felt right eating them again. Give yourself and your children unconditional permission to eat all foods!
Teach Your Children There is No Such Thing as Good and Bad Foods
Plain and Simple: Food has no moral value. When we teach children that food is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, good for you or junk, we are attaching moral value to the food. You can read more about why it’s actually harmful rather than helpful in this article, Why Not To Talk to Your Children About Nutrition.
Serve These Foods With Other Food
Variety is really important, if all we serve is cereal than maybe it will breakdown fast and leave them hungry sooner. However, if we serve these foods with other foods, your children will get more variety and do a better job at filling up. You can download my free guide on what 5 Foods to Serve at the Table to help you plan a balanced meal.
Allow Your Child to Truly Enjoy Eating It
Serve the food and let them do their job with eating it without any guilt or shame. Kids will know if you don’t approve, they pick up on faces you are making, mannerisms and your disapprovals. A child that knows they don’t have your approval will feel bad about eat the food. If they can’t enjoy the food they will be more likely to be fixated on it.
This is the bowl I served up for breakfast the next morning. She ate about 3 bites, proclaimed she didn’t like the taste and the best part was the blue milk. This reminded me of exactly why I’m so passionate about helping parents raise their children to be intuitive eaters. She tried the cereal, listened to her body, didn’t like it and moved on to the other food on the table. In the end, she likely won’t ask for this cereal again, but her experience with being allowed to experiment with it may have saved her years of being preoccupied with a food she really never even liked to begin with.
Have you ever noticed how your own bias around food may be preventing you from raising your children to have a good relationship with all foods. Is there a food you still feel guilty about serving or eating or maybe one you said you’d never give your kids?