As parents we want the best for our children, particularly when it comes to their health. In a world where childhood obesity and diseases are on the rise there are many of us shielding our children from “junk” food, beating ourselves up mentally when they are exposed at some point. I’ve had some parents even state they feel like failures as parents.
In today’s environment it is hard to keep children (particularly older children) in a nutritious bubble and can be quite draining as a parent to monitor this. To that I believe, in some ways, it isn’t good for them either. They need to spread their wings a little to develop the skills to navigate through the environment themselves. Now hear me out, there will always be fast food and sugar calling out to them, it’s everywhere and it’s in our biochemistry to want it. These big billion dollar companies design the “food” to love us and give us what we have craved over generations.
I believe children need to understand what makes them feel good and what does not from a young age (not too young of course!). Yes, they definitely pick up cues from their parents, but there will come a time where they are out on their own and want to make their own choices in life.
In our home (and everyone’s homes are different) when my children get angry, tired and upset tummies, we reflect on what foods may have had an impact on this. In most cases it’s exposure to large quantities of sugar, gluten, dairy and certain colours, flavours and preservatives. My eldest son knows when he goes to a party I somewhat guide him to the more nutritious food (if there is any) but he can have anything (as he doesn’t have allergies). Same days he remember how ill he can feel, slows down and makes a better choice. Kids are still intuitive to their eating at a young age – they know when they are full, hungry and what their body craves (unlike us adults). Albeit my kids are still young and I hope this follows them into teenage years (which my mother assures me is much harder to control your children). We all do what we believe is best as parents and can only hope the skills we give them follow them through life.
When we are told certain foods are forbidden it is only natural to want them even more. I’m not saying it’s okay to feed our children mountains of sugar and fast food every week when they ask for it (because we all know they would love that) but when we focus on what foods are delicious and nutritious, I believe it’s also important to look at what foods can be fun, within reason.
Food is fun, nostalgic, comforting, nutritious and delicious. The more nutritious food our children are exposed to, the more they will thrive in life but, unless they have an allergy or serious intolerance, exposure to a little not so nutritious foods can be fun once in a while.