This is Post 7 in a collection of posts related to my book Fearless Feeding. After I wrote an article for the NY Times, I was asked to come on Good Morning America!
It’s been a roller-coaster ride since last Friday when my post on the NY Times Motherlode blog went live. Come Monday, I found the Daily Mail had picked it up with their own twist on the story. It seemed from the comments that people were either with me or against me. Ouch.
Then Monday after around 1:30 I received a call from a producer at ABC saying they wanted to come to my house and film my family eating and interview me about my feeding philosophy. I almost passed out when I heard it was going to air on Good Morning America!
After I scrambled to prepare, they came the next day right before lunch. I made some grilled sandwiches, salad with fruit and some veggie options. I showed them how I do meals family style, placing food on bowls/platters and letting my kids serve themselves. It’s funny, they filmed for over two hours and end up with a segment that is about 2 minutes. (Click here to see the segment).
The next morning our family got ready to see the show and right away I realized the messaging wasn’t in line with what I recommend. “The mom who lets her kids eat whatever they want.” Well, yes and no. The segment was short, which I knew would happen, and following it a parenting expert was shown disagreeing with me, based on things I don’t even recommend. When it was over, I felt the whole message of overriding kids hunger and fullness cues with practices like “clean your plate” were lost.
So I wanted to set the record straight. I’m not the mom who allows their kids to choose the menu and dictate meals and that’s not what we recommend in Fearless Feeding. Of course, I consider my children when planning meals but they know I’m in charge. The idea is once the food is at the table, in line with Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility, they get to decide what and how much to eat. My children are used to a regular rhythm of eating and rarely ask for food between meals. And I balance all foods so my kids see mostly nutritious, whole food items with sweets and fried foods less often (but they are certainly not restricted).
One thing I kept saying during the interview is parents need to think about what their feeding practices are teaching their children about food.
If they need to dictate how much food their child eats, what does that teach the child about listening to their body and trusting himself?
If they insist a child eat certain healthy foods when the child doesn’t want to, what does it teach the child about the desirability of nutritious items?
If they frequently use dessert as a reward, what does that teach children about the role sweets play in daily life?
If they stock their cabinets and fridge with certain types of food, what is that teaching children about what is eaten and how often?
If parents cater to children, what does that teach their child about their ability to move along food acceptance?
If mealtime is a battleground, what does that teach children about the role food plays in their lives?
In his beautiful essay, George Joshnowitz describes what he learned about food growing up and how it stuck within adulthood (he was a skinny kid):
“I am no longer a boy, but I certainly eat. Even when I am full, my hunger remains unsatisfied. Years of pressure damaged my body’s natural signals. Years of education taught me not to waste food. I know, consciously, that eating what you neither need nor want is wasting it. My conscious mind, alas, is too weak to overcome my conditioning.”
I’m grateful that this has ignited a much-needed conversation about how to feed kids. It’s all about building awareness of how feeding kids today affects how they will eat tomorrow.
If you watched the segment, what did you think? Why do you think it’s so hard for parents to trust their children around food?
Posts Included in the Series:
1. Announcing the Fearless Feeding Movement
2. The Only Guarantee I Can Make About Your Child’s Eating
3. Did You Make This Feeding Mistake the First 2 Years?
4. Expert Interview: Lucy Cooke, Ph.D.
5. The Feeding Strategy Every Parent Needs in Their Toolbox
6. Fearless Feeding Release Party!
7. The (No) Clean Plate Mom Comes Clean
8. Fearless Feeding 5 Years Later [Podcast] [Next]
It’s here! The most ambitious feeding book of our time: Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School