Love, Food, and Kids
Forty years ago I became very interested in health and nutrition. I had been a sickly child and I had hated being sick. As a low-energy young adult, I had decided to do something about my health, so after reading some wonderful books on nutrition, I proceeded to completely change what I ate. I started to shop at the only little health food store in Los Angeles – Whole Foods was years away! I threw out all packaged food and ate only natural, fresh organic products – when I could get them. I made a decision that if people didn’t eat something 100 years ago, I wasn’t going to eat it now. I was extremely pleased with the improvement in my health and energy.
When I had children, I wanted them to be healthy, so I made sure that I had only healthy food in the house. By the time my children went to school, they were not happy with the food choices in their lunch boxes. Why couldn’t they have Twinkies and fluffy white bread like the other kids? Why couldn’t they have Oreos instead of the healthy cookies that I made for them? They didn’t like being “weird.” When we went to the market and they wanted junk, I told them they needed to buy it with their own money – that I was never going to spend money on junk food. It didn’t take them long to know that I meant it and to stop asking.
No one else in my family was into nutrition in the way I was. I was considered a “health nut” and often ridiculed. Yet my children were calm most of the time and had no trouble learning and staying focused on tasks. I noticed that when they went to birthday parties and had lots of sugar, they came home bouncing off the walls. Whatever criticism and complaints I received, I knew it was loving to them for me to keep only healthy food in the home.
It’s time we started to really pay attention to what love is regarding food. Is it loving to reward a child for good behavior with sweets? The child may feel loved at the moment, just as we feel good for the moment when we reward ourselves with junk food, but in the long run it is not loving to indulge ourselves or our children in eating foods that erode rather than promote health and well-being.
There has been much research into health and nutrition since I learned about it forty years ago. I try to keep up by reading the latest books, but it tends to get confusing regarding what is healthy and what isn’t. I have learned to tune into my body so I know which foods are good for me and which are not. I know how much protein I need, how much carbohydrates I need and in what form, and how much fat I need. When my children were growing up, I encouraged them to pay attention to how they felt in reaction to the foods they ate. Only by encouraging our children to tune inside and trust their inner experience will they learn to know what is right for them and what is wrong for them. It is too easy to get swayed by the latest diet, the latest information regarding health. Yet each of our bodies are different so we each need to know what balance of proteins, fats and carbs we each need to support our health.
This means that we can’t impose on our children what works for us. We need to notice, and encourage our children to notice, what works and what doesn’t work for them. But what does not work for anyone is processed foods, preserved foods, foods with pesticides, and sugar. Loving ourselves and our children means eating whole natural foods, even if your family complains.
Do not underestimate the effects of good or poor nutrition on the health of your children’s minds and bodies. Is it more important to you to have control over how your children feel about you by indulging them in unhealthy foods, or is it more important to be loving to them by providing them with the opportunity to have strong and healthy bodies and minds?
If you really want to be loving to your children, learn about good nutrition and be solid in your convictions.