If I had to choose one word to describe being a parent, that’d be it. There’s a slow release of choices and responsibilities as children age, each seeming to bring on different battles. Want to wear 2 different socks? Cool. Don’t care, just get in the car. Want go to school with bedhead? Fine. Wait. When are school pictures?!
Yet when it comes to food choices, where’s the line we draw as parents to encourage healthy habits without overdoing it? How much responsibility do we let kids have when choosing snacks and meals, or do we just maintain complete control? Is it, “kids will be kids” and “let them eat what they want”? Do we leave all “bad food” out of the house and talk about calorie intake and macro breakdowns?
My answer has been simple and effective thus far. Rather than good vs. bad foods, rather than battle on the daily about junk vs. healthy choices, we use the terms “always” and “sometimes” foods. At a young age this meant pointing out foods wherever we were and asking “Is that an always or a sometimes food? Why do you think that?” A slow education on foods they could always self-choose if hungry and foods they could sometimes self-choose if hungry.
As the girls aged we looked at their plates. 3-4 always foods meant a sometimes food was an ok choice of still hungry! We talked about their day when they wanted to eat a sometimes snack. “Well, I had ice cream and cake at the party this afternoon so I probably should just have an always snack before bed.”
Encouraging self-choice based on a solid understanding and never eliminating or shaming them for wanting unhealthy food ultimately has led to a very healthy relationship with eating! And that’s truly the best outcome we can hope for our kids! Healthy minds and healthy bodies!
Now excuse me while I go fight another battle, because 3 nights without showering is just getting, well, smelly.