Monday, November 28, 2011
I've had a bee in my bonnet ever since Abbey was old enough to eat solid foods.
Back then, at the tender age of five months, we were asked often and by many people when we were going to give her things like chocolate, ice-cream, fast food, and so on. I found myself fighting a battle that I've fought daily ever since.
It occurs to me sometimes - given that Abbey was a beautifully chubby baby and toddler - perhaps people think my food stance is weight-related. That is nowhere near the truth. What this is about is teaching good habits, and just being healthy.
It's about not just doing what others do; we're raising our daughter in what we feel is the best way for us and for her. Just doing the best we can with the values we choose to hold as important.
There are a lot of buzz words in modern life that I struggle with. 'Sometimes foods' is one.
When we talk about 'sometimes foods' or 'special treats' we use the term pretty loosely. Kids are let loose at birthday parties because 'it's not an every day thing'. We'll head out for lunch and have a dessert for 'a special treat'. They'll go to Maccas after school 'as a treat'.
See what I'm getting at? Life is so full of treats at every turn, that it isn't a special thing or an occasional treat anymore. 'Sometimes foods' are actually turning into 'everyday foods'.
We've started talking to Abbey about her food choices, about how different foods make her feel and what they do. We talk about good food as something that gives us the energy to play and helps us grow. And we let her have the occasional treat. (And sometimes, when a certain mother-in-law is involved, we have no say in it at all - three serves of dessert it is!)
We gave her a bit of space at a recent birthday party to have some lollies and chips and things (not to go completely crazy with them, though!), and watched her as she did exactly what we expected: hit a sugar low and struggle to deal with the feelings that brings.
And we talked to her about it when she calmed down. We explained that's how too much of those foods makes us feel; that a little bit is okay but too much - well, how did too much make her feel? 'I cried,' she said. 'And I felt sick in my tummy.' Yep.
She's three. I don't expect her to remember this one occasion forever, or even at the next party! or to let that stop her when the temptation is there. But I do believe these discussions are important.
We talk about food in relation to its purpose and the way it makes us feel, in the hope that this gives our daughter a strong foundation for her choices in the future.
Birthday parties are held all the time in a child's world these days, and every shop we go into has a temptation of some sort. We kid ourselves that all these occasions constitute moderation, and I choose to be really mindful of that.
It's not perfect and yes, it's done with the 'ideal' in mind. It's not a weight of expectation on her, just some assistance as she grows up. It's not a reaction to societal issues, it's a set of lifestyle choices for many other reasons. All of which is exactly what we each do in every other part of parenting.
And I honestly don't see why that should be such a battle.
Posted at 6:32 PM