Nature’s Child: Trust Their Appetite
Parents get into the most ridiculous situations over their children’s eating. Instead of trusting the wisdom of the child’s body, they become anxious and try to force him to eat. The child rebels. The parent worries more, so instead of continuing to provide good simple wholesome foods he or she buys all sorts of specialty items in an attempt to seduce the child into eating more.
The child learns that one way in which he can express his independence and wield power over the parent is to rebel. By then, a vicious circle has been established which produces a seriously fussy eater whose diet is unbalanced, whose behavior becomes erratic, and whose parents live in constant worry that their child is not getting properly nourished. Relax. Don’t worry about how much your child is or isn’t eating. Trust in his own seedpower and in his instinctive will to sustain himself. Provided you offer a good variety of natural homemade foods he will choose what he needs and be well nourished.
Even if you have already got into the junk food syndrome with an older child who by now will take nothing but fish fingers, chips and chocolate-flavored breakfast cereal, believe it or not, it is not that difficult a trap to get out of. Clean out your fridge and your cupboards of all convenience foods and start serving good homemade soups, salads, sweets, plus whole grain cereals, breads and crackers instead. Chances are at first your child is going to turn up his nose at it all since all he has been accustomed to is munchy-crunchy crisps and sugary cereals. He eats nothing at a meal. OK, so you take it away, making sure he understands he will have nothing until the next meal. At his next meal you offer whatever else wholesome you have prepared. He may refuse that too. If he is hungry between meals, have a big bowl of fruit on the table which he can choose from (provided he is old enough to choose for himself).
If he is also old enough to understand, tell him why you have thrown out the convenience foods – help him to realize that you have come to understand that for him to grow up big and strong and happy – as well as for you to remain well, for his sake – you both need better foods than you have been having until now – that you too, in fact the whole family, needs better foods – and therefore you have decided to change things.
In a day or two he will get hungry and begin to devour some of what you sit in front of him. As his palate and his body become accustomed to the flavors of good foods, and as his body becomes cleansed of addictive convenience stuff he will take more.
Offered only good wholesome foods and left to his own appetites to decide how much he will eat at any one time, children’s food consumption varies enormously both from day to day and month to month. Children raised this way will go through periods when food is the furthest thing from their mind and others when they can’t seem to get enough even on three or four big meals a day. Periods of heavy eating in most children coincide with growth spurts. When you see one come on in your child, you can be pretty sure that you will have to do some shopping for new clothes before long, since those trousers are likely to be two inches above the ankles very quickly.
Never use food as a reward or a bribe of any kind. This after all is not what food is all about. It is about nourishment and pleasure. When parents try to make it play other roles, this invariably involves them in hidden agendas with their children which are not helpful to either side, and certainly don’t support high level health nor the growth of children’s independence and freedom.
Here are some simple guidelines for feeding Nature’s child well right from the beginning. The important thing is to build your own menus around what you yourself like best and then share your enthusiasm with your growing child. Enthusiasm tends to be contagious.
The Health Makers
Fresh fruits, especially eaten raw
Fresh vegetables, preferably organic – especially eaten raw
Gluten-free breads and pastas
Cereals such as porridge made from steel-cut oats, muesli and granola (but read the labels and watch out for hidden sugars)
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices
Cheeses such as cottage cheese, ricotta and Edam in moderate quantities (provided no milk allergies are present)
Dried fruits (naturally dried, not sulphur dried) such as raisins, dates, sultanas, apricots
Nuts (make sure they are ground to a powder for young children
The Health Breakers
White bread, rolls, pastries and pies
Sugar and anything containing it
Biscuits made from white flour
Packet and tinned soups
Fizzy drinks which contain sugar or artificial sweeteners
Greasy fried foods
Chocolate and sweets
Artificial fruit drinks
Ice cream (except homemade)
Processed oils such as the golden varieties you find on supermarket shelves