Kids and Food

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Morning!  One thing that always gets my blood pressure boiling is when I wake up and discover my internet is not working.  It’s not only an inconvenience, it’s a major issue for me because I work from home.  I spent about half an hour fiddling with it before I realized that I have internet, my work router just isn’t working. 

 

Which means I can blog, but I can’t work. πŸ™‚

 

Breakfast was pretty standard!

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My oatmeal contained:

 

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sliced banana
  • Toppings: granola, coconut, blackberries, blueberries

 

One side was BLUE

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And the other was BLACK

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And the middle was all granola and coconut sweetnesss..

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Too Much of a Good Thing?

 

While trying to figure out my work computer, I read an article from the New York Times, which is entitled "What’s Eating Our Kids?".  It’s about parents projecting their own orthorexia  onto their kids.  Orthoerxia is the term doctors have coined for a patient who is "too focused" on eating "healthy" or "good" food, at the expense of their general well-being.

 

"While scarcely any expert would criticize parents for paying attention to children’s diets, many doctors, dietitians and eating disorder specialists worry that some parents are becoming overzealous, even obsessive, in efforts to engender good eating habits in children. With the best of intentions, these parents may be creating an unhealthy aura around food."

 

"….Dr. Steven Bratman of Denver has come up with a term to describe people obsessed with health food: orthorexia. Orthorexic patients, he says, are fixated on “righteous eating” (the word stems from the Greek word ortho, meaning straight and correct)…. Many eating disorder experts dispute the concept. They say that orthorexia, which is not considered a clinical diagnosis, is merely a form of anorexia nervosa or obsessive compulsive disorder."

 

The article goes on to state that whether or not orthorexia is an eating disorder or a form of OCD, imposing rigid eating beliefs on children is damaging, as it teaches them to form a "moralistic, restrictive and unhappy relationship" with food.   Many children of so-called orthorexics develop body image issues, anorexia, or bulimia.

 

I get SO nervous when I think about having children because I don’t want to accidentally "steer" them in the wrong direction.  I think it’s important to not label food as "good" or "bad" and just encourage moderation.   But…. I know I’ll be concerned about my child’s diet and will cringe if they eat something with trans fat it in (that’s just me being honest!). 

 

I once read a study about how a person’s eating behavior influences other people at the table.  For example, if the first person to order at a restaurant orders a healthy item, their companions are more likely to also order something healthy.  If one person at the table orders dessert, the others are more likely to get something sweet, too. 

 

So, maybe the best way to influence our kids is to walk the healthy eating walk and NOT talk about it too much.  I want to show my kids that vegetables are yummy by eating them.  I want to show my kids that their bodies are something to love by never "talking fat" about my own. 

 

But — at the same time — I’m torn.  Because you know how kids are… they want candy bars, they hate vegetables, they love chicken fingers.  And maybe my kids will be picky eaters who refuse to eat anything that’s not our of the box!  How do I explain to them that certain foods are more worthy of consumption than others, even if they don’t taste as good?!

 

How can we encourage our kids to have a healthy and positive relationship with food without going overboard?

{ 53 comments }

 

  • Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) February 26, 2009, 6:12 am

    What a neat article. My mother was always obsessed with dieting and losing weight. In turn, both of her children (myself and my brother) suffered from eating disorders. It is so true that this can pass on to the child.

    I think leading by example is the best way. If you only serve a certain healthy item, they will love it, especially if you are enthusiastic about it. Kids love chicken fingers and don’t want what is being served because paren’t cater to them. They act as short order cooks! I know my mom did!!

    What an interesting topic!

  • VeggieGirl February 26, 2009, 6:15 am

    I agree with Courtney (above) – it’s up to the adults to lead by example. I’m very blessed that my parents did that.

    Happy Thursday, Caitlin!!!

  • bb February 26, 2009, 6:21 am

    Great article…I worry about stuff like that too. On the same token, Hubs and I both played sports our entire lives so I worry about putting pressure on our kids to be athletic…

    There must be a natural balance that you develop as a parent, and I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out!

  • Jenny February 26, 2009, 6:24 am

    That article is SO SAD! I almost cried when I read these kids “go to birthday parties, and if it’s not a granola cake they feel like they can’t eat it.” What a childhood!

    I totally agree with leading by example to teach your kids healthy eating, but that means being an example of enjoying life and not freaking out about birthday cake too. Special events like that are what make being a kid fun, and can definitely be balanced by three healthy home-cooked meals on an every day basis.

  • seesaraheat February 26, 2009, 6:37 am

    Caitlin, I worry about this too! I know from experience how parents wear off on kids, it’s how I ended up an obese teenager. I’m hoping that I can lead a healthy example for my kids at home but my husband is going to have to get on board. I also worry about others (namely grandparents and other relatives) giving them stuff they “shouldn’t” have when I’m not there. Haha, don’t even have kids yet and I’m already thinking of this stuff. We just have to hope for the best and encourage them and not use negativity.

  • Anne P February 26, 2009, 6:40 am

    Gosh what a sad and interesting article. I feel like it’s such a hard job to balance trying to teach kids to be healthy while also making sure they are enjoying food and having fun without obsessing over anything.

    My parents did a pretty good job I think. My brother and I would always beg for McDonalds and Burger King and stuff and sometimes we’d get it, sometimes we wouldn’t. (We could usually convince my dad ;)) My mom would make me a healthy lunch every day to bring to school, so I was never into buying food at school. While we were def allowed to have soda and some junk food in the house, we weren’t allowed to go overboard (we could never get our parents to buy us fruit roll ups!!). Being allowed to have indulgences sometimes as something fun was good and didn’t make me grow up feeling guilty about wanting ice cream or obsessing over calories/ingredients or anything. In fact I don’t remember having any thoughts worrying about food. It wasn’t until college that I really started learning and getting interested in nutrition and healthy eating on my own.

  • Anne P February 26, 2009, 6:43 am

    … on the other hand, it helped that I was always really active growing up AND had a fast metabolism, so I basically could eat whatever and have no difference in weight. Also a factor! My brother was always a little heavier until he recently (in college) got into working out. I wonder if I had been my parents if I would have tried to get him to exercise more or eat healthier. Who knows!

  • Mica February 26, 2009, 6:45 am

    This is an interesting point. I guess you just have to lead by the best example possible.

    …or maybe we should send all of our children to France, so they can learn how to eat pastries in moderation and stay slim.

    Love the oatmeal, and hope your router gets it junk together!

  • Jen February 26, 2009, 6:48 am

    I also think it’s important to lead by example. Even with picky eaters. I think if they see you trying new foods they might be more willing.

    Plus my mom made sure there was always at least one veggie on the table and she wasn’t a short order cook. If we didn’t like something we either figured out a way to eat around it or we made ourselves a peanut butter sandwich. Evenutally we grew out of our pickiness. I used to hate broccoli, tomatoes, and peanut butter.. all of which I eat a lot of now.

  • livelaughlyss February 26, 2009, 6:51 am

    I hope you don’t mind this being a lengthy comment, but I’m really passionate about this! Please, please, please don’t raise your children to have any association with GUILT around food! The second that you “ban” a food, drink or candy from your household, the more your child will crave it once they leave the nest. For example, I have a lot of friends who weren’t allowed to drink soda growing up; then they got to college and drank it with every meal because THEY COULD. What’s more important than allowing a food vs. not allowing a food is establishing a general healthy atmosphere. Eat by example! You are the perfect example of a healthy, balanced, moderated eater, and your kids can grow and learn from that instead of being affected by it. Be very strict about eating meals at a family, and serve healthy foods that you know they will love! If they are insistant upon Kraft Mac and Cheese, try making your own, healthier version one night and serve that instead. Don’t lecture them about Trans Fat, Corn Syrup, ect. until they are old enough to really understand. Believe me, as someone who is still in school, they DRILL THAT STUFF IN OUR BRAINS! Society as a whole is gaining awareness and getting healthier each day, so you can be sure that it won’t be hard for them to make healthy choices. Your kids are going to eat out and eat at friends’ houses where “junk food” will be present, but that’s okay! I just wish that I grew up knowing that, and not feeling like having control over food made me a better person.

    Phew! Sorry for that. I hope you got at least something out of it! Just thought it would help to get a point of view from someone who was definitely aware of this growing up.

  • Rebecca February 26, 2009, 6:51 am

    Hi Caitlin, long time no comment :). What an interesting article! I agree that leading by example is the best way. You can choose not to give the kids junk food at home, and also not restrict them from having it when they are away from home. I mean, if they are exposed to healthy food for all of their years before they go to school, they will have developed a taste for healthy food. I know that is what happened in my family!

    Also, I have noticed with my girlfriends that those with mothers who were concerned with dieting had a MUCH different relationship with food then those with mothers who were not.

  • livelaughlyss February 26, 2009, 6:54 am

    Oh, and I love how you say you will NOT participate in “fat talk”. That’s the best thing you can do. πŸ™‚

  • Anna February 26, 2009, 6:57 am

    I think the best we can do is try to instill a sense of balance in them!

  • Anonymous February 26, 2009, 6:57 am

    My parents never pushed healthy eating on me, I just kind of picked it up myself when I started running. Better fuel in the tank means better runs.

  • Meghann February 26, 2009, 7:04 am

    My worst fear is that I will have picky kids who will not want to eat anything I make. I think the best is to just show moderation adn never ‘force’ them to eat anything. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m hoping if they see me enjoying veggies and exercising on a daily basis then they will want to copy me and do the same thing.

  • inmytummy February 26, 2009, 7:15 am

    This is actually something that I worry about a lot should I ever have children. I’ve mentioned before in my blog that some of my “issues” with food definitely stem from issues that my mother has which stem from my grandmother.

    The way I see it, there are two negative things that can come from having an orthorexic parent and, for me, they both happened at different times in my life. When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have junk food, so I went to my friends houses and gorged on the stuff that their parents let them have and became overweight. Not healthy. And then when I was older, I harbored some very disordered thoughts toward food and was very rigid in my food choices.

    At least now I realize (and from your post, you do too) that being a so-called orthorexic is not always 100% good. I think as long as we acknowledge that, we can set good examples for our children.

    Sorry, this was really long! Just a subject that hits close to home for me.

  • Anonymous February 26, 2009, 7:15 am

    Part of parenting is worrying about what you’re doing wrong – and you probably are. Relax, try to have a good life, and enjoy your kids. Just keep telling yourself “it’s mostly genetic anyway”.

    Someone’s dad

  • Dori February 26, 2009, 7:26 am

    My mom has been fixated and obsessed on eating my entire life. All I hear is about her “fasting” days, etc etc.. it has definitely screwed me up big time in relation to food. When I have kids, I will never discuss my own body issues. I will serve them a healthy, well balanced diet with the occasional treat and trip to McDonalds because they are kids after all! But I will do my best to set an example of eating healthfully.

    I did like my mom’s rule that we were only allowed to have sugar cereals on our birthday and Hanukkah — they were a major treat, but I ate healthy cereals the rest of the time!

  • Erin February 26, 2009, 7:34 am

    Wonderful topic, I have thought about this before actually. I’m a long way off from having kids, but according to most people, the foods I eat are weird! I definitely want to instill healthy eating in my children, and I think treats are okay, but I like wholesome treats (AKA not McDonald’s). I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food though! At least I have a while before I need to worry…

  • Leanne February 26, 2009, 7:39 am

    This is such an interesting issue… I didn’t have time to read all the comments so I’m sorry if I sound repetitive of others.

    I think by involving kids in cooking and meal planning, then teaching them about real, whole foods vs. processed, they will naturally acquire a taste for the healthy choices.

    Encouraging them to at least TRY everything is also good.

  • foodsthatfit February 26, 2009, 7:46 am

    Interesting comment. It is a hard balance because you want your kids to eat healthy, but pushing it too much could cause some eating anxiety for the child and lead to bad habits..

  • Lost February 26, 2009, 7:54 am

    I have two kids and while they love chocolate (dark too!) they also love carrots and broccoli and peppers and so many other fruits and veggies. Honestly the fact that kids don’t like veggies is a myth. (i know some don’t) I lead by example. Sure they don’t eat perfect, but when i cook dinner their favorites are veggie fajitas and stir fry so i know i’m doing something right.
    My mom taught us to eat healthy too. We never had sugar cereal in our house, no snack packs, or doritos, we rarely had desert, and we always had wheat bread. Our snacks were popcorn, we only got diet soda (one can) on pizza night. We used to bike to dairy queen for a treat. We took walks after family gatherings where we overindulged. My mom never talked bad about her body. After having kids, she worked out hard and ate healthier, she never cut out foods or did crazy fad diets. She really was amazing in that department!
    When i had my kids and didn’t give them junk for two years, mil was hounding me about not giving my 8mo old ice cream and my mom was patting my back.
    I think worrying about it is silly. You have a healthy body image, you work out , and eat healthy, your kids will see that. They will see your not so perfect side too, and that will teach them balance. Just the fact that you are worried about this now means you care enough to be a great parent!

  • sarah February 26, 2009, 7:57 am

    Great question, Caitlin! Since I suffered from an eating disorder, I really do worry about my future kids’ relationship with food. I think I’ll try to make sure they have healthy, well-rounded meals but also allow them treats (just like I allow myself). If they’re extremely picky, I’ll just have to work around that and maybe even get sneaky. There are so many recipes out there that sneak fruits and veggies into brownies and cookies.
    I think it’s also very important to encourage kids to be active. I’ll probably go on family walks and play lots of outside games with them.
    Sarah

  • Emily February 26, 2009, 7:57 am

    I agree. I too am kind of scared of having kids because I don’t want them to live with the difficult relationship with food that I have. I am trying to overcome it but I am not sure I ever will and I don’t want to pass it on to my sprogs. Good post.

  • Graze with Me February 26, 2009, 8:02 am

    I don’t think that you need to worry too much, my parents pushed healthy food on me and of course I rebelled. But only for a couple years until I realized they were right! Of course I was allowed fast food, pop, dessert, etc. on special occasions as well but now I eat healthier than I ever have!

    One time when I was about 6 I went to a friend’s b-day party, the cake was store bought and I’d only had homemade cakes with real cream cheese frosting. I took a bite and then asked my mom “What was wrong with it?” because it tasted like pure sugary crap. To each their own…

  • Carolina John February 26, 2009, 8:03 am

    kids have different nutritional requirements than adults do anyway. i can’t get my kids to eat anything, and the doctors think they are underweight. so it’s a problem.

    you, however, should not be scared about having kids. you will love it.

  • ksgoodeats February 26, 2009, 8:06 am

    I haaaaaate internet issues but if you can’t work then oh well πŸ˜‰

    I think adults need to have a good relationship with healthy living and set an example for their children. Adults need to teach their children that everything is okay in moderation!

  • Casey February 26, 2009, 8:09 am

    Raising children of my own is still a few years away for me – but through babysitting and taking care of neices, nephews, etc, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea about “what works” with kids. (Although I’m sure it’s entirely different as a parent!)

    I definitely second the opinion that having kids help you when you prepare foods is a great way of encouragement. Here’s a quick story to explain why…

    The other night, I bought Pillsbury Reduced Fat cinnamon rolls (the kind you just plop into the oven) for a fun activity to do with my nephews. They LOVED helping out and even put the icing on themselves. They each ate MAYBE one and loved them! The next week, I was babysitting for them and since they had enjoyed “baking” so much the other night, their mother had bought another batch of cinnamon rolls for us to use – this time the regular variety. The kids helped me make them, and again both had the same amount as the night before. The key thing here is they noticed NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever. They were thrilled to be helping and see the finished product.

    The message I got from all of this is that children depend on their parents, guardians, and role models entirely – and if healthful foods are made available, in a kid-friendly way – there will usually be no problem getting them to eat those foods. If unhealthy foods are more available than healthful ones – kids will probably orient towards those. I think it’s just important to encourage healthful eating without actually vocalizing it! As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words”.

    And don’t worry Caitlin, you’ll be an awesome mom one day =)

  • Nicole (anotheronebitesthecrust.wordpress.com) February 26, 2009, 8:10 am

    I do think it is important to parents to lead by example. My parents never labeled for good or bad, and eventually I figured out they vegetables weren’t so bad. While my sisters and I used to eat horribly, we all came around and are now pretty much healthy eaters!

  • Bec February 26, 2009, 8:26 am

    What an interesting article, why I agree that kids shouldn’t be obsessing about being healthy. I grew up in a very food conscious household but my parents never obsessed about calories of fat content, but we had all whole-grain products, no trans fats or saturated fat and no processed food were aloud in our house. I grew up never having store bought cookies, white-sandwich bread or candy. We were aloud pop only when we were eating out and even then just one glass. I am really thankful for it now, as much as I was embarrassed by our family’s eating habits as a teen (my friends were freaked out by our baked organic blue corn chips with no salt and laughing because I though that Oreo cookies were a major treat). Now as a young adult when eating healthy is popular its easy for me to do it properly. Reading the article did make me think that some of the stuff I do is a little obsessive, like reading all the ingredient lists at the grocery store and that I wont buy anything that has any hydrogenate or altered oils including palm oil. But really I don’t think its a bad thing. The only real situations I have had is refusing to eat certain things, such as Kentucky Fried chicken at a party once (I politely just ate salad). I think in the long run, my families eating habits are good for me, I don’t have to work at it to eat well, I already dislike pop, and general prefer the healthier options since that is what I am use to.

  • Brandi February 26, 2009, 8:39 am

    That’s something I think about, too.

    I know we plan on having kids sometime in the future, and I want to be a good example.

    I think it’s a fine line sometimes, but as long as the parents are living healthy and active lifestyles, their example will do more than telling kids about food will – does that make sense?

  • Victoria February 26, 2009, 8:42 am

    I think more than anything, there is truth to the exposure theory. Kids aren’t born hating vegetables (although “bitter” tasting ones are genetically selected against usually). They like the familiar, so I just plan on having them always eat what’s in the house.

  • Meg February 26, 2009, 9:01 am

    Sorry about the router!

    Great article. I think when I have kids, I will try to teach moderation when it comes to food.

  • tfh February 26, 2009, 9:04 am

    Someone's dad is awesome. πŸ™‚

    I agree that this goes for everything, not just food– the best thing we can do is provide kids with good examples and give them age-appropriate choices. I think you're going to be a great mom and will be pretty laid-back when it comes to your kids' eating, as long as they're happy & healthy. Definitely nothing like this article! πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous February 26, 2009, 9:28 am

    I actually don’t think that kids naturally want things like chicken fingers and candy bars. Instead, I think parents assume that’s what kids eat and just give them that.

    I know my family always ate pretty healthy. Salmon with veggies for dinner type thing. So that’s what my little cousin always ate.

    When she was like 3 or 4, my aunt thought, oh wait, maybe she wants kids frozen meals, things covered in sauce in a can, etc. But, when she would put that in front of my cousin, she’d cringe, much rather wanting the healthy foods she saw her parents eating.

    Parents need to just not assume, and also set a healthy example by eating right, and of course, never using fat talk in front of them.

  • Kimberly February 26, 2009, 9:40 am

    Like everyone else, I think that the key is teaching balance in the household. If kids are given whole, nutritious foods when they’re hungry, chances are those are what they’ll reach for themselves. I consider myself lucky that as a kid, I was given a whole tomato or apple (instead of chips) as a snack, but was never denied my once-a-week Burger King onion rings after Saturday morning soccer practice. Or as the mother of my one friend said: “I used to put out nothing but veggies and dip as a snack, and when they got hungry enough, they stopped whining and ate it.” πŸ™‚

    I read an article a while back that suggested the American “children’s menu” is breeding entitled, unhealthy eaters by conditioning their palates to a very limited number of bland, salty, “age-appropriate” options. I can’t help but think of cultures in which children are not given chicken fingers every time they eat in restaurants, but rather smaller portions of whatever the adults order, and how much more variety they expect and receive in their daily diets. I think that would be a huge start in this country, to stop sending kids the message that they are SUPPOSED to dislike vegetables or exotic flavors, or anything that is not socially-accepted “kid food.”

  • ttfn300 February 26, 2009, 9:56 am

    have you seen roni’s site (green lite bites) with her toddler ryan? they have a GREAT relationship, and she lets him in on the process of cooking and making choices… kids will imitate everything they see, so if you always eat veggies, and prepare them in ways approachable to kids (say, in mac n cheese maybe?) i think it will become second nature… i hope πŸ™‚

  • BOBBI McCORMICK February 26, 2009, 10:07 am

    wow I need to think about this one…

  • Beadie @ What I Ate Yesterday February 26, 2009, 10:08 am

    Sorry about your internet troubles πŸ™ Gorgeous oats, though.

    I agree that leading by example is the best way.

    p.s. my new site is finally up and running 100% and I have resolved the google reader isssue I was having. Not sure if you were a subsciber but wanted to let you know in case!

  • Amy February 26, 2009, 10:10 am

    I like watching how Jon & Kate of Jon & Kate Plus 8 go about feeding their kids. For the most part, they eat all organic, healthy foods but she doesn't freak if they get cake for their birthdays. She also doesn't give options at meal times. You eat what she serves or you wait until your next meal. It's made for a group of very nonpicky, healthy children. I figure if kids eat the healthy foods at home most of the time, it shouldn't be an issue if they have sweets once in a while.

  • The Running Yogini February 26, 2009, 10:34 am

    Wow! Your Oatmeal is so packed full of yumminess!!! Interesting article. I think its important to be a healthy example, but not an obsessive example πŸ™‚ You’ll do beautifully, I’m sure!

  • Emily February 26, 2009, 10:41 am

    It’s a tricky thing that I think I will worry about when I have kids someday. My parents emphasized eating healthfully, but I never developed an unhealthy relationship with food. I know one of my dietetic professors only offers her kids foods that are healthful; junk food is not an option for them, so they learn not to label foods as good or bad.

  • Michelle February 26, 2009, 11:13 am

    Hey Caitlin!
    Wow that’s a pretty intense article and definitely a thought-provoking one. I completely understand where you’re coming from…I have a lot of similar thoughts for when I have children.

    I think back on my childhood and while we always had vegetables at dinner, weren’t allowed soda except as a special treat etc…I definitely had my fair share of McDonalds, pizza, cookies, cakes etc. I was a bit chunky as a child, but you know what, I grew up and realized all of it on my own!! I think it’s DEFINITELY a good idea to stock food in the house that’s nutritious and to instill good habits, but I feel it is just as important to allow children to indulge in those treats sometimes. A balance is the best way to go πŸ™‚

    Great article!!

    Michelle

  • Danielle February 26, 2009, 12:57 pm

    I really worry about this issue too, my parents eat pretty balanced, I was always raised with a veggie on my plate, I think if I do only one thing different from my parents it will be that you do not have to finish everything on your plate. I’m going to try my best when I have kids to give them a healthy balance but I hope not to get them obsessed with food in a bad way whatsoever, seems like a thin line though

  • Maggie February 26, 2009, 1:05 pm

    This is seriously such a good topic. My mom had a lot of issues with food (she was VERY thin in her early 20s) and while I think she did her best to let us eat whatever we wanted and love ourselves, she never seemed happy with herself… which is probably part of why I developed an eating disorder. I really hope that I will be a good mom in this respect.

  • katecooks February 26, 2009, 1:18 pm

    love this convo! my mom always made one meal, and thats what everyone ate. even when we were babies, she just blended it down. i grew up liking all veggies. i even turned a little orange as a toddler from eating too many carrots! a favorite snack of mine was a cup of frozen peas, one that i still eat. my mom never talked about diet. those were just the foods we had and the foods we ate! and i still love all veggies, and think i eat pretty well πŸ™‚ i plan on doing the same thing for my kids!

  • Thinspired February 26, 2009, 1:28 pm

    I have thought about this a lot lately–I am so determined that my kids don’t have a negative relationship with food in the sense of overeating or eating emotionally. Then I think, I can’t let them have the opposite relationship, either! It must be hard to instill a balance.
    I think first as parents, they (we) need to be balanced first. I am hoping that I can achieve the ideal relationship with food/body image to pass onto my children naturally! Great article!

  • Aggie February 26, 2009, 3:11 pm

    Very interesting article! I try my best just to be a good example to my kids…I don’t freak out too much about sweets, but I also don’t keep them around where they have access to them every day. My kids have always snacked on fruit, cheese, nuts, turkey, veggies…and the occasional not so healthy stuff. Its all about balance in my opinion. Hopefully as they get older they will just continue making healthy choices without it being an “issue”…and of course treat themselves without guilt!

    Great post!

  • eatingRD February 26, 2009, 4:18 pm

    Great topic! It’s amazing the impression we can have on children without even realizing it. I believe that the parent should present the healthy food options to the child. If a kid has a choice between a hamburger or a chicken salad, of course they are going to choose the burger. But, if we give them the healthy options and lead by example, they can have the choice to choose which healthier option they want. It is hard because it takes at least 10 times of exposure and experimenting with a new food before they will even want to try it. That can be very frustrating for a parent and they may just give in a give them what they want. It’s really important to start early because once those learned food behaviors set in they are harder to change for the better. Everything in moderation I say, and in our program we teach kids there are ‘everyday foods’ and ‘sometimes’ foods.

    -kristen

  • jane February 26, 2009, 4:54 pm

    i read that article this morning too. i thought some of it was almost overreacting. the thing is, part of eating disorders is a kind of mentality, and in my opinion if someone is going to turn to anorexia or bulimia or whatever, they will find any reason to explain it to themselves, and extreme healthy eating is just one of the many reasons they tell themselves its okay to restrict. of course i realize that being obsessive about health food will probably damage your children’s relationship with food, you can damage that relationship in a lot of other ways (obsessing in front of the mirror, rewarding/punishing kids with food, etc) than just eating “too healthy.”
    and i think the article took it a little too far. they almost made it sound bad that cafeterias are starting to focus on health, or that ED patients only eat organic food. so? shouldn’t we be happy that more people are placing more value on health?
    i guess i’m just playing the devil’s advocate because there are always two sides of the story, but i definitely see the other side. and yes, i am worried about what i do when i have children especially cause i’m vegan…but that’s another story for another day!
    but i wouldn’t worry too much, caitlin, cause your relationship with food seems to be very healthy, and that is what matters the most.

  • Lauren February 26, 2009, 6:34 pm

    I just did a post on a very similar topic. http://lauren-saywhatyouneedtosay.blogspot.com/2009/02/blame-it-on-genetics.html

    There is a very interesting article in the new edition of Self Magainze that talks about this. You should check it out if you get a chance.

  • lilveggiepatch February 27, 2009, 9:49 am

    I read that article soon and had the same fear. I think we can take the same approach that we do for our own diets: everything in moderation. I think a kid should be able to enjoy a piece of cake and not have to think about calories or fat or sugar. In fact, I don’t know if I even want my child to know the word “calorie” except when it relates to energy before they’re pubescent. Is that crazy?

  • seeleelive (for the love of peanut butter) February 28, 2009, 6:10 am

    hey caitlin! Wow, what a post! this is very inspiring to read and makes me very interested as i am looking to be a mother one day too. i agree with everyone else. leading by example is best…but also know that it is ultimately the kid’s decision. it’s hard to raise a child and completely steer them of trans fats and high sugar things, but letting them enjoy those foods 3-4 times a week will allow flexibility. i think in general, just not putting TOO much emphasis on healthy eating is CRUCIAL. if we do that, the kids will learn that it is most important. eating healthy obvs is, but there is a lot more to life than food.

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