I recently stumbled along an article on the internet about a mother who doesn’t feed her children sugar.
It wasn’t the first I’d seen this article, let alone an article of this nature, and the same thought crossed my mind that always does: what a great way to give your child an eating disorder.
Here’s the thing: I’m all for eating foods that are *healthy.* Most people consider *healthy* foods to be proteins, fruits, and veggies. I consider *healthy* foods to be veggies, protein, sugars, veggies, grains, fats, dairy, and pretty much any other food group you can come up with.
When I hear people talk about eating *healthy,* I realize that what they really mean is: “I’m restricting certain food groups because society and diet culture has told me that I should.”
This mother who won’t feed her children sugar is no different; she’s adhering to diet culture rules and passing them onto her children.
I understand that this mom may be under the impression (because diet culture/an eating disorder has convinced her) that she is simply keeping her children healthy, and I admire the intent she has.
However, it seems clear to me that forcing your children to restrict their food group intake will only lead to a later issue: the addiction to that food group because of the deprivation the child has endured.
I’m not saying that these kids who don’t eat any sugar are “deprived” in the sense that they are being abused or malnourished. I do think they are being “deprived” in the sense of a normal relationship with food.
How will these children ever learn to listen to their bodies if from the time they were born they’ve been receiving the message that some foods are bad and some foods are “safe, clean, *healthy,*” and whatever else you want to label them?
It’s the same notion as someone bingeing after they restrict. If you deny yourself access to certain foods, you’re more likely to binge on them later, it’s really plain and simple.
Unfortunately, upon a google search for some sciencey stuff to back up my claim above, most of what comes up are websites about fasting diets (you mean an eating disorder?) and how to avoid a binge (just don’t restrict or fast and nourish your body and listen to cravings!).
To me, it seems ridiculously clear that forcing your children to follow certain food rules as children will likely lead to the development of an eating disorder, or at the VERY least, disordered eating and thoughts surrounding food.
I’m also aware that parents have the right to parent in whichever way they desire, but there seems to be such a push for a *healthy* lifestyle, even for our kids. Are there baby yoga classes? Do our kids really need to be vegan? Why don’t we let our children try ALL food groups and allow them to eat what they like.
Babies are young enough to not have any food rules or any preconceived ideas about food and diet culture, and I wish we would nurture that. Our children are born with the knowledge of how to listen to their bodies, and then we strip them of that when we force them to follow certain “diets” and ways of eating.
Babies are born with a pure love for food because of the amazing things it does for their bodies: it helps them grow, learn, play, roll over, and do a lot of amazing baby things. Telling our children that certain foods are “bad,” literally goes against the instincts they are born with: to enjoy food and use it as sustenance.
If we let children eat what they craved or wanted or know, they’d probably still eat pretty *healthy,* and do you know why? Because they wouldn’t have the psychological cravings that come along with forbidden foods.
Sure, are there some kids that would eat candy for every meal, of course! But that’s because we’ve told them that candy is bad and we limit the amount they had.
Children need structure. I’m not saying that we should let our kids eat candy whenever they want. They need protein, veggies, and all the rest of the diet culturally-deemed *healthy* foods. But they also should be allowed to eat foods they enjoy and want to eat.
If we stopped making all these food rules for children, they’d be better able to listen to their bodies and they’d probably be able to manage their diets and eat a more balanced intake.
Now, again, I’m not yet a parent, and I’m extremely biased because my involvement in ED recovery and the anti-diet movement. Maybe some parents out there feel as if they can monitor what their kids eat without imposing strict food rules, and if that’s the case: great!
I just urge parents out there, especially those who struggle with disordered thoughts/eating/full blown EDs themselves to take a deeper look at how we might accidentally be effecting those around us.