OK, it’s gonna seem like I’m on a mom shame kick this week. So let me first say HI FRIEND, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. No matter what your kids did or did not eat today. That said, this quote from Skye Van Zetten, who runs the Mealtime Hostage blog and Facebook group for parents of picky eaters, is something I think about a lot.
Sometimes, picky is a story we tell ourselves, when our child’s relationship with food doesn’t match our vision for them. And on the flip side, “little foodie,” “sugar junkie” and “carb obsessed” are other stories I’ve heard parents tell about their kids and food. These labels all limit kids and increase mealtime stress.
Whether you think your kid eats too few foods or too many of the wrong ones, it’s worth asking yourself where those ideals about perfect eating come from—and whether they really serve any of you when you’re at the dinner table. Studies show that pushing “healthy” foods on kids only makes them like those less. And restricting “treat” foods only makes them more appealing. So black and white thinking about good and bad foods gets you basically nowhere with kids. (Or yourself, but that’s another post.)
What if, instead of defining and classifying our kids as good and bad eaters, we just… let them eat? And stopped making the contents of their stomach so entirely our business? You can see from my stories tonight, how differently my two girls eat right now. They also have different personalities, different preferences, different histories with food, and are in very different stages of growth and development. People often ask me to compare their eating…and I’m just not gonna go there. But here’s what I’ll say: They are both really, really good at listening to their bodies around food—and that’s my only goal.
For more on Skye’s story and her approach to picky eating, check out Chapter 3 of The Eating Instinct.