When I was a little girl, before I could leave the dinner table, I had to eat everything that was put on my plate.
Apparently, my father thought it was his job to not only select the exact food I should consume, but also the exact amount.
Now, I don’t know about you, but as an adult, if I had dinner with someone and they not only ordered my meal for me but also *required* me to eat every last bite before I could leave the table, I’d not be eating any food with them ever again.
This is a form of control. It fosters an unhealthy relationship with food and teaches children to ignore hunger cues from their bodies.
Is it surprising so many people have these issues as adults and only 12% of American citizens are metabolically healthy?
You cannot force children to eat.
And it’s wrong if you do.
Now, I’m not saying nutrient-dense foods should not be prioritized. Quite the opposite, but you have to let your children decide.
You choose what goes on the plate and what quantity. They choose what they will eat and how much.
Even children need autonomy.
They also need boundaries.
So in our house, things go a little like this:
We fill Darrows’ plate with the food we’ve chosen. He eats all of it and is given more of whatever he wants if he wants.
If he doesn’t eat all of it, we tell him he can eat whatever is on his plate that he chooses, and can leave whatever he doesn’t like, but we won’t be serving any other food until the next meal.
If he doesn’t finish a meal (say, dinner) and he asks for food during our bedtime routine, we tell him he can have more food in the morning and that he can eat more at dinner in the future so he isn’t hungry.
No power struggles over food over here 👈🏼
It is no secret that families often have power struggles over food, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we want our children to grow up to be adults that eat only until full, adults who choose a variety of foods, adults who prioritize protein when they to and carbs when they need to, we have to empower them with this autonomy while they are children.
Intuition is a superpower, indeed. Our children are innately born with a deep connection to this and are capable of fostering its powers. We need to stop teaching them to ignore it. Only the person who lives inside the body can understand exactly what that body needs. Sometimes its protein demands, other times its carbohydrate demands. Trust that your children will know. Provide them with a variety of nutrition, but let them choose what they will eat and how much of that.