The more I learn about feeding kids, the more I talk about feeding kids, the more I feel it totally and utterly necessary to tell you this: IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE PERFECT. The mealtime doesn’t need to be perfect, the food doesn’t need to be perfect, YOU don’t need to be perfect.
I can’t tell you how many people (ok, let’s be real, its always the moms) I’ve heard from who are stressing about what their kids are – or aren’t – eating. And you know what, most of the times they don’t need to be stressing.
We want the best for our kids. We want them to be the brightest, run the fastest, eat the healthiest. Myself included! Is it even possible to not want that? But somewhere along the line, food became another source of judgement. Another opportunity to not be perfect. Another way we aren’t enough.
And I’ve realized that I’m part of this problem. I share the healthy meals I make for my family…but I wasn’t always sharing the whole picture. Not really on purpose, I show you what I serve. Not what my toddler actually eats. I don’t stop offering foods because she tells me she doesn’t like them, or she doesn’t eat them.
It can be frustrating to see them spit out the food you spent a long time preparing. And it’s definitely frustrating to see them waste food (and money!). But it’s so important to offer, offer again, and offer again – even if they don’t eat it. Because the modeling piece (both by what you offer and what they see you eating) of feeding kids is such an important one. When we eat family meals (and as Ellyn Satter says – sitting down as a family is more important than the actual meal itself), we all eat the same thing and there is no doubt in my mind that Demi eats a better variety of food when we all eat together. It’s one of the reasons why family meals are so important to me.
I share the meals we’re eating as a source of inspiration. To share quick and easy recipes that are family-friendly and also nutritious. NOT to make anyone feel bad about what their kids are or aren’t eating.
So if we’re having chicken, salad, and quinoa cakes, that’s what’s going on Demi’s plate. She decides what to eat – and how much of it to eat. This is the concept of the division of responsibility. We each play our part. (Read more about my philosophy when it comes to feeding kids here.) When I shared that one of our meals that started so well, and ended up with a screaming toddler and frustrated parents, I heard this sigh of relief from you guys. Like, thank goodness, even the nutritionist’s kid spits out her salad and said she doesn’t like it.
And that’s when I realized that I was projecting something that wasn’t quite reality. So that’s when I started also sharing (this is all on instagram stories by the way) the post-dinner update on what actually got eaten. Because we have “good” days and we have “bad” days. But because I don’t really believe in good or bad foods, it’s just all days and it’s all part of the process. Sometimes they’ll eat two bites, and other times they’ll eat two plates. It’s 100% normal for kids to go through picky phases.
Instead of thinking that if we give our kids the right base they’ll never be picky, I think we should assume that they will go through picky phases. Because otherwise we’re setting ourselves up for failure. We don’t need to assume they won’t like certain foods, or assume they won’t try them – that isn’t doing them any favors. But let’s not stress when they go through a picky phase. Because they will. Follow their lead. But pave the way.
We have enough to worry about so do your best. Serve balanced meals (protein, vegetable, healthy fat, whole grain, fruit) and then it’s up to them. Let your kids decide what and how much they are going to eat. No battles, no drama.
Because I know that’s something we all want less of! 😉
Would love to hear your thoughts – do you feel bad when you look at what other kids are eating or are you able to escape that comparison trap?