Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Food

I have been so busy lately with other things that I haven't had a chance to post to my blog. I miss it. I really enjoy keeping up with my blog. So I decided to post an article I have just finished about food issues, for a newsletter. I think I may have posted something similar to my blog before but hey, there is some new stuff in here too. First a picture of my boys.

Food is such a touchy issue for me. I was raised with food as punishment and reward. It was praise, it was comfort, it was so important in our family. My mom was a great cook, and I loved her food, I loved her for making such great food. I felt loved when she would cook food. But I knew I did not want to pass this on to my children. I wanted a life for them that did not revolve around food. I still have my food issues, I still carry that with me daily and have come to grips, so to speak, with this as part of who I am. So I had this I my mind, in my body, before I even met Jackson, my husband.

Once we had decided to marry and have children we talked about many parenting issues, talking about how we were parented, what we wanted for our children, why and how this should happen, what it would look like in our family.

We fully believed that each individual has the right to decide what is right for them. So we have never had restrictions on the boy’s food choices. They both come to the grocery store with me, or if I go alone I will ask them what they need. We do not have meal times, and never have. We have never distinguished between “junk” food and “real” food. I have never told them they had to clean their plate, try everything, or eat with the family. We really want the children to be making their own decisions listening to their own bodies, knowing what is right for them.

It has worked out beautifully. Following *my* intuition that told me to give them the freedom to follow their own intuition. Neither of my boys has issues wrapped up in food. They don’t look to food for comfort or escape. They eat when the need arises and continue until they are no longer hungry. They listen to their bodies about what to eat and have never eaten large amounts of sugar, “just because it was there”. They do like chocolate and sweets, don’t get me wrong, but do not have any feeling of limit. They do not eat the whole box of chocolates out of fear they will not get enough because they know we would work together to figure out a way to get more if they needed more. But they are just as likely to want to eat cheese, or a piece of fruit. They see foods as merely different choices, and look to what their body needs at the time.

My oldest is a vegetarian. He has had to deal with childhood migraines. We have done a lot of research on childhood migraines and have found that if he has protein in his diet consistently, the migraines are kept away. Harder when you are a vegetarian, but we have just put more time into finding protein sources that he enjoys, are portable and we can either make or buy locally. It has worked well for him and he is so in tune with his body that he will, for example, come to me and say “I feel like I need some protein mom, can you help me cut up some cheese” or something like that.

My oldest son also did some research on vitamins and was reading about Omega 3 fatty acids, on his own, at his own pace. He asked me about the topic and we did some research together, looking at fish oil and flax seed oil. He decided that he wanted to start taking flaxseed oil supplements, and has taken them daily, on his own. It is so great to see these things coming together for him.

My youngest is a meat eater and, a month of so ago, he came to me and said he really enjoys chicken and wished that we could search out a source for organic chicken so we would be able to have more at the house, like chicken breast, not just the organic frozen chicken fingers I can find at the grocery store. So he and I did some research and found some. He is really enjoying that, and helping me figure out ways to cook it, as I haven’t cooked chicken in about 14 years.

For us it has been a wonderful journey, and I trust that in my own way, on my own terms I will figure out all the pieces to my own puzzle with food. We have spent so much time with the boys in helping them listen to that inner voice, and figure out what is right for them, it is amazing to see their minds at work. And I trust this is something they will be able to pass onto their children, if they choose to have children. I know people say that if you let children eat candy, they will eat it all day and all night, we have not found that to be true. We have found that if we give our children a wide variety of foods, and help them listen to their bodies, they will choose exactly what is right for themselves. And feed their bodies what they need to grow, and thrive.

This is what has guided our whole parenting journey, a desire to help our children figure out what is right for them. Encourage them to listen to that inner voice.

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