Innocence of trust

May 15, 2015

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Parents are their child's window into the world of food.  In the womb the child is nourished by the mother's body, which continues in infancy if the mother breastfeeds.  From there babies are fed by their parents until they are old enough to feed themselves.  It is through this interaction that continues into adulthood that the child starts to define what "normal" eating is.  If it was standard practice in a household to eat breakfast every day, chances are this is what the child thinks is normal.  Same thing if breakfast is generally skipped, normal.  Normal becomes a function of what is typical in a person's experience.

However, true normal (i.e. intuitive) eating is fairly rare in our culture.  It becomes biased by all sorts of things.  If parents weren't normal eaters, they passed this on to their children.  The child can also be influenced by things heard from peers, other adult caregivers, at school, on TV, etc.  I had a client whose daughter came home recently saying that milk is acceptable to drink "because it only has a little bit of sugar in it."  My client was understandably appalled, as these types of statements are not made regarding food in their home, so she must have heard it that day at preschool (that's right, this kid is 4).  We don't know the context of the original comment, but that's not information a 4 year old comes up with on their own. 

The sad thing is that we live in a world obsessed with food in many conflicting ways.  We create fear and paranoia about eating things such as sugar and wheat, while the food industry creates products like the new Hardee's burger topped with a hot dog and potato chips.  Is there anything wrong with intuitively eating this burger – no, absolutely not.  It's just another example of food extremism. 

If you are a parent or caregiver you need to be aware that you have a lot of influence through not only your words, but also your actions.  Kids notice what you do, probably more than what you say.  If you are constantly avoiding certain foods, dieting, or worrying about your weight they are going to pick up on it.  They will likely internalize these issues themselves someday. 

Instead, how about modeling moderation, balance and intuitive eating?  Teach your kids that all foods fit into a healthy diet and that they are in charge of listening to their bodies.  They can eat when they are hungry and stop when satisfied.  After all, they were born this way and will only learn to do otherwise from the rest of the world.  Let them maintain the innocence of trusting their body.

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