It’s controversial. It can be loaded with guilt. It seems to change yet stay the same.
It’s clamorous – not glamorous. Noisy, loud, inconsistent. It’s the world of nutrition. And it’s quite often the world we live in as moms too.
At the Easter table, the discussion became centered on eggs. Why are some eggs brown and some eggs white? Are the brown ones better for you? Do they have more nutrients? My grandfather seemed to think so and nothing could change his mind.
This went on for 20 minutes. On the topic of eggs. Seriously?
When I think back to that table conversation, it’s no wonder we all get so confused. Even my grandfather and cousins and aunts and uncles around the table that day had to laugh over the fact we were so engrossed in a conversation about eggs!
Recently I attended a nutrition conference, the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting, where dietitian, Dr. Jillian Lampert from The Emily Program, talked about noisy nutrition and the concept of “Do What I Say, NOT What You Hear”. In other words, do what registered dietitians say to do, and not what you might hear from other sources, including those without a degree in nutrition.
You can’t believe everything you read or hear or see. It must have science to back it up.
It’s a science that requires research and experts who have studied for years on the subject.
Eating, too, is complicated. The decisions that go into making a food choice are complex. Take for example my morning thoughts:
- Last night’s meal was delicious.
- My stomach is growling, I’m starving.
- What’s in the pantry I can eat while I get the kids ready for school?
- I need to feed my kids a nourishing meal before school.
- What fruit do I have on hand?
- We are out of milk, now what?
- What about those leftover cinnamon rolls grandma sent with us, should I let them have those?
- I want to give them food that tastes good.
- I don’t want grandma’s food to go to waste.
- I ate a salad last night, I deserve something more this morning.
This thought process took place in about a five minute span! Eating is the combination of our physiological (hunger, appetite and body cues) and our ideas about deprivation and reward, as well as our beliefs and values about food through our exposure as children.
See how complicated eating is?
Match that with the idea of guilt. Guilt is everywhere, shaming us for choosing so-called “bad foods”. We might make someone feel guilty about a food choice or we might be on the receiving end of that guilt like the time I ate cheese curds at a work function and people took pictures as if it were something unbelievable. I think that photo is still hanging on a bulletin board somewhere!
Here’s what I know:
Using the words “good” or “bad” to describe food are counterproductive. Instead we need to be neutral about food. And practice that in front of our children to help them develop a healthy sense of balance instead of a lifetime of heartache and disappointment. It starts with us as moms.
Here are some ideas for neutral messages:
- Food is nourishment for our bodies.
- Food is fuel and energy for our bodies.
- I enjoy (blank) food because I feel better when I eat it.
- Food does this (insert function) for my body.
- I have a difficult time with that food.
- My body is feeling like it would like to eat that food.
- I prefer to not eat that food.
Role-modeling is essential here. Help your daughters and sons the right relationship with food. It requires persistence and it doesn’t mean we have to eat every food. It means instead you are taking a stand to:
- Talk less and do more.
- Not thinking that losing weight automatically means health improvement.
- Modeling the behaviors of being food neutral.
- Encouraging family mealtimes as frequently as possible. Not for the food, but for the connection.
- Keep the focus on health and not weight.
- Show value to the person over value of the food.
- Don’t say negative things about other people’s bodies, especially in front of your children.
- Abandon guilt.
For more information on the idea of creating a healthier balance with food, visit this great resource:
It’s a new way to look at the plate.
Did something inspire you about this post? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.