How to feed children: food freedom vs. food restriction.

I still haven’t totally found my ultimate position on how to feed children. The main dilemma for me is what to allow them to eat or to give them total food freedom like a good radical unschooler. This morning really proved my lack of a stance on the position when I felt explosive rage over Mr.Noodles and brightly coloured slushies. I had been practicing a lot of food freedom before this, with occasional reluctance and sighs of grief.
Gentle parenting, attachment parenting and especially radical Unschooling talk about empowering children through letting them make their own choices. Not only do radical unschoolers let them make their own choices as to what to eat at home, but they bring the food that they want into the house. The idea is that if we control their food, they will sneak it, want it more and wind up being adults that will binge on all the bad stuff they were deprived as children.
I get that. I also get that they need to listen to their own bodies, but what if their body screams for more chemical induced food highs?
I also get that they are children and in the same way that I don’t want their minds manipulated by religion or school, I don’t want them altered by chemicals and neuro toxins.
Those words: neuro toxins. They kept flooding me this morning as I thought about the Mr.Noodles. In my rage, I tore out the little package of death inside; the flavouring. I hid it in my pocket and dwelled on how different the children act when eating these foods. I very lightly touched on the other reasons, in my thoughts, that radical Unschoolers give their children complete food freedom… Is my distaste for certain foods just mybelief? Should I investigate it? Am I not trusting them? Will it make them want it more? The thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t getting the philosophies and faking it to be in a certain category was not going to work.
What I did know for sure was that if I could just get to a place of love and connection and have a decent explanation for the kids, that things would be better. But I wasn’t there and I accepted it.
I continued with anger directed towards companies that use ingredients banned in other countries.
Neuro toxins. MSG. Trans fats… I was beginning to get dizzy thinking about it all.
And as I asked “WHY would people make this and why would people eat this?!?”, I only got angrier. My mom asked what I needed. I thought. I told myself that it’s ok and it will teach me something later. What I need is not apparent.
Well, it’s later and what have I learned?
Do I believe in food freedom?
Do I want to control what they eat?
Does it feel good for me?
I left the house, alone, for an appointment and I continued to ask these questions.
I discovered that I didn’t have the answers; that I only knew and breathed this moment.
This moment asks of me,
What is the highest good that can happen?
What is the positive side of it?
What calls me?
I let the slushies and Mr.Noodles wash over and out of me. I drove to the grocery store and bought all their favourite healthy snacks. I was focusing on the good. I stood at the cash register with my palms open and let the love flood through me to the cashier who had lost her daughter to cancer. I knew she was hurting despite her hard work and friendly attitude. She even asked me how I was. I let it come through and I realized that I didn’t need to form an opinion. I didn’t need to plan the perfect article with all the perfect advice on how to feed kids. We have it all inside, we just have to be open for it.

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2 responses »

  1. Interesting post! I haven’t heard of food freedom before, I’m going to look into that some more. My son is just starting solids, so he’s only asked for what he sees. I try to keep good whole foods in the house but I’m sure that will change as he gets older.

  2. My naturopath lets his kids eat whatever they want. They focus on allowing their girls to develop a relationship with food where they understand how a particular food makes them feel. They ask them questions after they’ve eaten something, like watermelon or cake, and connect the way that they feel with the food that they’ve eaten. He says it works really well because now they just want foods that make them feel good. He also says that if they want whatever is served at a friend’s birthday party that they have the freedom to, but if they opt out that his family purchases or makes a healthy cake so that they can still have the fun of a treat when they get home.

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