You may have noticed that the common theme running through my blogs now, is food. I have been a foodie for a long time and I love good, healthy, nutritious food, but I am reading a couple of books (yes, I have more than one book on the go at a time) about food and our habits around food and they have got me thinking….
Healthy Little Eaters
First book is called “Healthy Little Eaters” by Wal Herring. This is a fabulous book if you have or are ever thinking of having children. In the first chapter I was inspired to confront my own food habits and biases which sparked me on my no-sugar journey.
The premise of the book, thus far, is about our children unconsciously building their own food habits based on what they see and hear us, as parents, doing. We may, as parents, keep hidden in the pantry, foods like chocolate or biscuits that we don’t want to put into our children’s bodies but that we like to indulge in when we think our little ones aren’t looking. This was certainly a habit for me and one that I ceased as I began reading this book. The author explains that even though you think your children don’t notice, they do, and they learn (from this example anyway) that food is to be hidden. Also, there is the issue of double standards – its ok for me, but it’s not ok for you. What exactly is that teaching our children about equality?
But this is what our parents did with us right? Yes, of course. I remember hearing so many times – ‘do what I say, not what I do’. And I remember how it felt too ….
Kid friendly food
Do you guys have an idea of what kid friendly food is? I know I did. I started making a couple of new dishes every week, things that were outside both mine and my husband’s comfort zones, as far as food is concerned, and on these evenings, I would be cooking two meals – one for the adults and one for the kids, because I didn’t think they would like what we were having.
Was I unconsciously letting them know what food they should be eating as children? Perhaps. So now, on those experimental nights, I still cook two meals, but I dish up some of the new meal on their plate too. I still get comments from my eldest about not liking it – even though she hasn’t tried it – but I just reply, ‘ok, I just added it to your plate in case you wanted to try it.’
Doing this, my younger daughter has tried just about every experimental meal and sometimes cleaned her plate of it! I have noticed as well that when my youngest tries something new she is watching my face the whole time she has a mouth full, as if my reaction to her trying it, will somehow help make up her mind on whether she likes it or not. And we all know that that happens! When I screw up my face or have a surprised look, she spits it out. I say it might be hot and she cautiously touches it with her tongue. Even when it gets into her mouth she is still very cautious in eating it.
Why do you eat?
I eat because I am bored. I like sweet stuff when I am bored to give myself a wee boost of energy which quells the boredom and I find interest again with a little boost of sugar. I noticed that my eldest, when she got bored, would head to the cupboard asking…. ‘Mum can I have something sweet?” – Ahhhhh – what have I done?! Have I passed on this habit to her?
Since eliminating sugar from our house and from my diet we no longer have this happen as frequently as it did. I also have the energy and enthusiasm to engage more and do more with the kids which has also helped in curbing the habit I helped her form, and my eldest’s mood has been much more stable.
What do you consider a treat?
Is it a meal you don’t get very often that’s full of flavour or is it a sugary sweet item? I was talking with a friend a while back and she was telling me of a time her son bought some friends home and they wanted a treat after school. She came out with apples. One of them said ‘this isn’t a treat’. So, what is a treat in your home? And is your idea of what a treat is, something that you would actually like to eat as a treat if given the opportunity – i.e. do you actually like the taste of it, OR do you just think you like it because you have been conditioned to like it? (it is deemed a ‘treat’ and when you eat it everyone says ‘ooooo yum!’)
We have the choice to parent consciously if we want to. Conscious parenting is where we remember that we are all essentially one and that we are not perfect so there is no need to try to be. We see our children as our teachers for our own personal growth. We see our children as a being perfect as they are and giving guidance when required (either intuitively or otherwise) whilst also maintaining boundaries that are important to us and our children.
If you are interested in what food habits you are passing onto your children, all you need to do is look at what you do? Herring has included in her book, Action Steps to determine your relationship with food and how this may be passed onto your children – and here they are:
- Do you eat a variety of food?
- Do you try new foods in front of your children?
- Do you have any body issues? If so, how does this influence what you eat?
- Are you eating for any other reasons than hunger?
- Which emotions (nurture, distraction, comfort, resolve, anxiety, loneliness, boredom or anger) influence your eating?
- If you have identified emotions in question four, what are your earliest memories of eating in that way – write with as much detail as possible.
These are a great starting point to gain greater clarity around where you might like to change your relationship with food.
If food in general is a sensitive topic for you but you are interested in this, then perhaps get some guidance from a professional whilst working with your relationship with food.
The other book I’m reading will need to wait for another blog…. Until then, enjoy discovering your relationship with food.