Whether you’re a hardcore healthy person, or a “most of the time” healthy person, one thing doesn’t change. Judgement. If you choose to skip an unhealthy food, you’re “too good” to eat it. If you make something and bring it, you somehow offend others. People who don’t eat the way you do, will question your choices. People who don’t agree with you, will let you know all the reasons you are wrong. As if that is not bad enough, lets add in another factor. Kids. Now the judgement is brought to a whole other level! As moms, we already question our choices enough, but now we get to have others do it for us.
For some reason, when people find out you’re limiting your child’s diet, they automatically make assumptions, that for the most part, just aren’t true. To some extent, all parents limit their child’s diet. I highly doubt a child is allowed to have cake for breakfast, lunch and supper. We all have a choice in the foods that our children are exposed to on a daily basis. My food choices are backed by long term research and many success stories. I didn’t blindly make my decision of choosing this lifestyle. With small children, I absolutely have their best interest in mind when making food choices. Nevertheless, people will still let you know why you are wrong.
We are our own individuals, and therefore get to make our own choices. Obviously, eating habits are passed down to our children, no matter what lifestyle we choose. Each person that chooses to limit their diet, or their children’s, has a reason. If you’re one of “those people” who limit your child’s diet, I bet you’ve heard at least one of these before! (If not all)
1.) "They're Going to Miss Out"
Miss out on diabetes? Obesity? Cancer? No, they’re talking about food! I hate when people think that just because you eat healthy, you can never enjoy yummy treats. I’m still baking cookies, cakes, and pies. I still whip up a delicious bowl of “nice”cream. Brownies? You bet! The only difference is that I use healthier ingredients to make them with. My girls love these special treats, and don’t feel like they are missing out on a thing. Sure, my goodies don’t come prepackaged in little wrappers, but they come packed with love, care and good intentions. I might have used dates instead of sugar, but does that really matter to my two munchkins who are licking their bowls clean?
I personally believe that way too many people associate food with happiness and memories. Don’t get me wrong, food from your childhood can bring back memories, but the food itself isn’t the most important thing. It’s usually attached to the person who made the food, or the people you enjoyed the food with. Every holiday, special occasion or event is celebrated with food. If you took all the people away and was left with only the food, would you still remember the time so fondly? Probably not.
2.) "They won't get the proper nutrients"
Depending on what healthy lifestyle you are following, certain common foods may be omitted from your diet. For example, I’m following the Nutritaian lifestyle. This lifestyle is a whole foods plant based diet, with minimal to no animal products, oils or processed foods. With the mention of “no animal products”, one thing automatically comes to mind. Calcium. We all know how milk is the main source of calcium for most children today. Did you know milk is fortified with calcium, just like any other processed food? Once the milk is pasteurized, it loses its vitamins and they must be reintroduced by fortification. Calcium that is naturally occurring in foods, like broccoli, is more absorbable than calcium that has been added to foods.
For some reason people think that fortified foods are the only way to get the proper amounts of vitamins needed. For those not eating an otherwise healthy diet, this may be true. But for those who eat fresh fruits and veggies and other wholesome foods, this is not the case. Foods are fortified because of the lack of consumption of naturally fortified foods. Sure, it’s safe to say that some days after yet another meltdown, my girls might not have reached 100% intake on a certain vitamin. That’s a toddler! No matter what food lifestyle you choose, you will have days like this. But, at least I can feel good about the things that they did eat.
3.) "They will rebel"
As a mom, I get to choose the foods that I want my children to eat. This isn’t unheard of. When food is served, you can either eat it, or not. The idea that controlling the foods your children are exposed to, will eventually cause them to rebel, is about as accurate as a shot in the dark. Sure, they could grow up despising you for never letting them eat certain foods. But they are just as likely, if not more so, to grow up loving the foods that created their childhood, especially if it’s good for them. I can’t know what my children will do once they are old enough to make their own food decisions. All I can do is lead by example, and help them to understand more about the food choices we make. The rest will be up to them.
Will they trade healthy food for not so healthy food with their friends at school? Will they overindulge in unhealthy foods when I’m not around? Possibly. But, what I feel very strongly about is that they will notice a difference when they eat unhealthy foods. Some people will never experience what I’m talking about. When you break from eating an otherwise healthy diet, you will notice the difference. If I ever skip a salad, I can feel it the next day. My hope is that when they are exposed to unhealthy foods, they will not only know the difference, but feel it as well.
4.) "A Little won't hurt"
I don’t know about you, but a little of something can often turn into a lot of something very quickly. I’ve never agreed with the 80/20 rule. Eat good 80% of the time and allow yourself 20% to eat whatever you want. For one, I’ve made a lifestyle change. That means I no longer want or crave “bad” foods. I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself, because I’m loving the foods that I eat now. The drive behind anyone’s healthy eating is usually related to improving or maintaining their own health. I wouldn’t want to purposely jeopardize my health, eating 20% of things I once liked, but no longer care for. Secondly, who actually keeps track of the percentage? Each time you eat something bad, you tell yourself it’s part of your 20%. By the time the day is done, you’re looking more at 50/50 than 80/20.
So why would “occasionally” be bad for children? For me personally, I feel like it’s very hypocritical and confusing to inform children of the health issues with certain foods, and then let them eat it anyways. Is it good, or is it bad? Now in a perfect world, I would be 100% following this rule. But, because my 3-year-old has already gotten a taste of certain foods before I made the healthy switch, sometimes it’s a lot easier said than done. That is why I feel like “occasionally” will ultimately sabotage my efforts to switch my family to a healthier way of eating. It wasn’t until quite a while after making the switch that I started to prefer it over my previous way of eating. If children are constantly given “unhealthy” foods, they will never truly develop a taste for eating healthier.
Since we’re still transitioning as a family, our “occasionally” is when we are out and about, or with family and friends. It’s hard to control things outside of your home, especially when the majority of people don’t eat the way you do. I see our home as our “safe place”. A place I can feel good about anything that we decide to eat, because there aren’t any unhealthy options. I had an epiphany while on vacation (read more about that here), and decided that sometimes “balance” is the only option.
Why I limit my child's diet
I know I want the best for my girls, and I make the food choices I do for that reason. I see the many diseases that plague our youth. I see more and more helpless children with cancer. I see the decrease of children’s immunity, and the increase of infections. I don’t want my girls to be another negative statistic. I can handle a little judgment, if that means I’m not jeopardizing my children’s health. Could food really be the answer to preventing and curing many childhood diseases? I think so. What if I’m wrong? I limited my children’s diet for no reason. But, what if I’m right?