Having a healthy food relationship is number one in my book. But this can sometimes impact the diet you choose to follow.
While I love the idea of guiding kids towards foods that help them grow and nourish their body, I also cringe when I see people talk about food a certain way.
There are so many kids of diets out there. I can't even keep track anymore! From no meat, to no fat to no carbs. We pretty much have it covered.
As adults, we can choose what we prefer to eat, and what we feel is best for us. But what happens when we bring that into the home and around our kids?
While I do believe we need to be role models for our children, and guide them along the path that we feel is best, I also feel that part of raising a strong healthy child in both body and mind needs room for them to make their own choices.
Healthy food relationship
Having a healthy relationship with food is my number one goal with my boys. It wasn't always this way, I used to believe that I had to choose for them since I was the parent.
I fell into the "well you wouldn't let them play with a knife would you?" camp. Of course I wouldn't! And food must be the same because eating a piece of candy will certainly kill them right?
And same goes with dairy, meat, processed food....all of those things the food world tells us we must stay away from 100% of the time or we are ruining everything from our body to the enviroment.
And then, I took a step back and thought about the big picture. And my vision changed.
Guiding Kids Around Food
When we changed our diet, we were very intentional at not worrying about every little detail all the time. We decided to eat mostly plant-based meals, but to balance out our underlying anxiety we had to let go at times.
Our kids were babies when we made the switch. So they didn't really know anything different and they didn't have a lot of opinions or experience with food on their own.
As they grew and went to school, they became curious about foods we didn't often eat. As I saw their curiosity grow, something inside me told me it wasn't right to block them from it.
I had to learn to let go of control because I wanted my kids to find their own way with food, like they find their own way with other parts of life.
I still continue to teach them about healthy foods, and how unhealthy foods were fine sometimes too. And we talk a lot about how each food makes us feel.
I let them explore non plant-based foods and let them make their own decisions with what to try and what not to try. While they know that at home we eat mostly plant-based for health reasons that started with dad, they also know that they have freedom to explore.
I don't want them to feel like they are doing something wrong, or are bad kids when it comes to food. I have done a lot of reading about food relationships and I definitely pick having my kids have a great relationship with food over my own feelings on what I think is best for them to eat.
This isn't to say I don't say no sometimes, or encourage them to pick nutritious choices.
Is it safe for a child to be vegan?
First, it's important to know that what I choose to do with my family isn't what's right for everyone. This is simply how I feel works best for the personalities in our family.
You can absolutely live a full vegan life and be healthy and safe. Both kids and adults can thrive. But I do believe it isn't right for everyone, including us.
Both the personalities of my husband and I, and those of our kids, don't do well with an all or nothing mentality. We need some gray, some wiggle room, in order to thrive.
Our mental health tends to suffer when we have too many parameters. Even with food. Actually, especially with food.
Knowing how this affects us as adults, we want to make sure we don't let it affect our kids mental health. So it is an easy decision with allowing them to explore foods as they become curious.
Giving kids a choice
I feel like giving our kids a choice takes the emotion and anxiety away from food. Instead of not allowing things, we talk about the science behind foods and how they make us feel inside.
When they over eat candy, we talk about how their stomach feels and next time they reach for the candy jar, we remind them about that experience.
When they have a meal filled with nutritious food, we talk about how it feels to eat healthy. And how these foods give our body what it needs to grow.
But we also talk about times when we want comfort in the form of our favorite cookie or ice cream, and how that's totally ok to have it.
I truly believe that overall health has to do with the body and mind, and making sure my kids have a healthy mind when it comes to food is so important to me.
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