I have to make a confession: my kids love junk food! Sometimes, being a dietitian mom is a struggle! Working with clients and teaching, encouraging, and demonstrating new ways to enjoy food is so rewarding, challenging, and fun! But, I have to admit, some of my toughest clients are my very own kids! It was so much easier when it was just breastfeeding and baby foods! Yes, regular pop (which we don’t have at home unless a special occasion), candy (what’s not to love about it), cupcakes, cookies, and sugared cereals are favorites for our kids! What is not to love about these foods – they taste good! Thanks to manufacturers who know what our brains and bodies like, they market all kinds of unhealthy foods to us, and especially kids!
For instance, a recent text I got from my oldest son for his grocery list wishes included: pop tarts, hot dogs, ham, cheese and crackers, pizza, and pizza rolls. I read it and was thinking “where have I gone wrong?” And, I’m not so sure it’s an easy answer! Of course, I know all the healthy foods they should be eating, but I have to admit, my kids are some of my toughest clients! Being a dietitian mom can be so hard! Even though they do like fruits and vegetables, they also are in tune with what their friend’s are eating and that impact is so big at their age (the older two are 10 and 8), I am no longer in control of their nutrition. Yes, I can influence and follow the division of responsibility for parenting (our job is to provide healthy foods, variety, and options), while their job is to choose what (if anything), and how much they will eat. (See Ellyn Satter’s website for more details: http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/dor/divisionofresponsibilityinfeeding.php).
So, what are we/I to do? As a parent and dietitian, I hold on to hope that I am instilling healthy habits and interest in healthy foods my kids will eat and that someday they will come to appreciate whole foods and cooking healthy foods as much as I do. My grocery cart would look a bit different if just shopping for my husband and I. I’m sorry, but my kids don’t love spinach, and they don’t necessarily love all the dishes I try to create (try is a key word – they don’t always turn out:)! Anyway, the fact of the matter is, I am no different than anyone else. I am not out to judge or instill my own practices on you or your family, rather here to cheer you on as a fellow mom or anyone who’s trying to make healthy changes for yourself. I’ve been there, I am there, and I know it’s not easy. It’s a journey, one step, one bite, one meal, one pound at a time. Let go of the guilt and get back to enjoying food like it’s meant to be. If your child would rather eat whole wheat muffins than pop tarts – super! But, if not, you haven’t failed or done anything wrong. There’s a place for everything and balance and moderation truly are key! Providing a healthy environment, including children in the process of growing, shopping, preparing, and cooking or baking is key to them learning all about the different ways to enjoy food!
What are your struggles as a mom or otherwise?