My 3-year-old son and I were at Walmart today. Yes, you can shame me if you want (we only shop there a couple times a year to get certain items). I rarely shop anywhere besides the grocery store, and our grocery store is also a health food store, so when I walked into Walmart it was a bit of a shocker. The first thing I saw was a long row of Easter candy–Peeps and chocolate bunnies–right along the entryway on my left. To the right, I saw shelves full of doughnuts. I could smell the fresh bread of Subway wafting through the air. It was making me hungry.
Walmart is pretty genius at selling things to people by putting certain products in strategic places. It’s a dangerous place to shop if you don’t have any discipline. Or kids that don’t have any discipline. The little boy happened to notice one of these strategic displays full of Doritos. He loves chips (not my fault, by the way) so he pointed them out.
I said, “Those are not good for us.”
With serious enthusiasm, he said, “Yeah, those are not good for us. That is yucky for our bodies!”
I said, “That’s right. We need to put good things into our bodies so we can be strong and healthy and so you can grow big and tall.”
I’ve found myself saying stuff like this a lot lately. I’m always as honest but keep it simple. I tell him which foods are good for us. I tell him which foods are not good for us. Sometimes these are foods that are offered to him or that he sees others eating. I will say “That’s not real food,” if it’s clearly not real food. Other times I will say “That it is not good for us,” like if it’s too much sugar or something. Or I will say, “We can’t have that right now,” if it is something nutritious but not allowed on our gut-healing diet.
It’s a lot of talking about food. I want food to be simple, something he simply eats and can regulate simply by listening to his body. But we live in a modern culture with modern foods and modern foods make things awfully confusing. So I educate him. He doesn’t always understand, but he’s starting to get it. He knows we eat certain things because we have this goal of being healthy, and that other certain things will not get us there.
It reminds me of how my mom talked to me about drinking and smoking. She was matter of fact about it. She said it was bad for the body. I believed her. It was easy for me to stay away from those things because I valued my body and didn’t want to harm it. By educating my son about food, he is learning to value his body, and also learning to be a savvy consumer. By the time he is old enough to make his own decisions about food, he’s going to have a pretty solid understanding of what is and what isn’t healthful.
Do you educate your child about nourishing their body? What strategies do you use?