Archive

Archive for the ‘It Builds Character! What are you teaching your child through food?’ Category

Dinner Table Affirmation: How to be more while doing less

September 4, 2009 6 comments

AlexBowlscan

My now-teenage son in the early 90’s–photo by Anna Migeon

In every relationship with another human being one either affirms or denies. There is no in-between!” states Conrad W. Baars, M.D. Born Only Once: The Miracle of Affirmation.

According to Baars, it is essential to a child’s emotional health to feel affirmed from a young age, to be accepted and appreciated unconditionally.

From the first day of life, eating is a place of either affirmation or denial, of personal acceptance or rejection for a child. Eating is the daily opportunity to nurture the parent-child relationship and to demonstrate affirmation or to fail to do so.

Examples of denial Baars gives include propping up a baby’s bottle on a pillow while the parents do their own thing, and a cartoon of a child all alone looking at a birthday cake with electric candles and a tape recording of “Happy Birthday” playing. Eating, like so many things in life, is a vehicle for relating to our children and others, for better or for worse.

Recent books like The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious assume an adversarial relationship between children and parents at the table. The false dilemma these authors operate in is that either we hound, beg, bribe our children to eat the right things, or we outwit them into doing so.  Either way, we disrespect our child, and deny, among other things, the child’s inborn ability to love good things and to be reasonable and self-sufficient.

Affirmation, Baars writes, is “not primarily a matter of doing something to another, but a state of being.” His advice: “You need only to do less and to be more, for your own sake as well as that of others.”

So in what ways are we sources of affirmation or denial with our children at the table?

Evidence of affirming relationships at the family table:

· Encouragement to tune into their own appetites:  “Are you hungry?” “You must not be hungry today.” “How much would you like?”

· Calm, understanding conversation, like: “I can see you feel like playing right now, but now is time to eat. Later there won’t be anything to eat. You don’t have to eat but you do have to come to the table.”

· Allowing them to feed themselves as much as they are able and to choose from what’s offered.

· Offering the healthiest, tastiest foods possible and trusting children to be in charge of their own food intake.

· Listening, acknowledging and accepting their feelings about hunger or tastes, or other subjects.

· Taking away food calmly when they begin to throw it around or obviously lose interest.

· Letting them ask for what they would like to eat.

· Reassurance that they will get enough to eat, if that’s a fear.

· Giving small servings to small eaters.

· Pleasant and calm conversation at the table, parents showing interest in spending time with children.

· Gentle insistence on age-appropriate good manners at the table.

· Family meals as a priority and planning ahead for healthy meals.

· Parents enjoying healthy foods themselves.

· Taking time and effort to let children help in the kitchen, garden and grocery store.

Evidence of denial through feeding:

· Micromanaging children’s eating.

· Letting children misbehave while pressuring them to eat.

· Being too busy to cook and sit down for meals with them.

· Leaving kids to regularly forage alone in the kitchen for themselves.

· Parents buying easy junk they know children will eat without effort from them.

· Letting them eat whatever they want in the name of “learning to make choices” or so that they will be “happy” or even so they will “like us.”

· Not caring enough to say no to harmful foods.

· Giving children soda and candy to keep them out of the parent’s hair at the grocery store.

· Not being informed about good nutritional choices.

· Not providing experience and knowledge to guide children in their eating.

· Denial of their ability to regulate their own eating: urging or insisting that a child eat something he doesn’t want, or eat more than or less than he wants.

· The “clean plate” rule.

· Bribing them to eat something they don’t want or making something they do want contingent on eating something they don’t.

· Concealing foods you want them to eat inside unhealthy foods.

© Sacred Appetite /Anna Migeon / 4 September 2009 / All rights reserved

Related post:

“Relating to and through food

Advertisements

The Golden Rule and Helicopter Parents at the Dinner Table

September 2, 2009 4 comments

1097863_stock helicopter

I’ve just started hearing about “helicopter parents.”  A new term, maybe, but certainly not a new phenomenon. The tendency of modern parents to hover is especially manifested at feeding time.

Driven by fear, overbearing, over involved, fussy, these anxious parents worry out loud and take on responsibilities that don’t belong to them in attempting to make things perfect in their children’s lives, from eating to education.

“Feeding is a metaphor for the parent-child relationship overall,” writes Ellyn Satter, author of How to Get Your Kid to Eat… But Not Too Much.  “Parents will probably treat a child in other areas the way they learn to treat her in feeding.”

So how would you feel if someone were hovering over you and trying to control you when it was time to eat?

Probably a bit like I did when my husband used to insist that I get in whenever we were at a swimming pool.  He was sure I would enjoy it, but I didn’t want to go in, and it became a matter of honor to keep my choice not to go in.  I had to grow up a little to finally go swimming.

1008997_stock asparaus In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, author Barbara Kingsolver’s daughter Camille writes in one of her several essays included in the book: “I decided that even if I grew up to love asparagus, I would always tell my Mom I hated it. I didn’t want her to be right about my personal preferences.”

Some years later that resolve was broken down by the relaxed attitude of her parents—“OK, good,” her mom told her.” More for us then!” – and the winsome flavors of the fresh, seasonal vegetables they were so evidently enjoying without her.

“The themes of growth and responsibility and love and limits play themselves out with eating, the same as with every other aspect” of your child’s life, Ellyn Satter writes.  It’s so often a question of knowing when to  back off and when to hold firm, but always with calm and confidence.

Just like the rest of us humans, kids tend to resist being micromanaged. If you make an issue out of something and get pushy, whether it’s eating, doing homework or chores, they are most likely going to dig in their heels, especially if you get excited about it. Backing off sometimes gives them a chance to notice they’re actually interested after all.

“Keep your mouth shut and fingers crossed and the look of incredulity off your face,” Satter advises. “They will show you what healthy and normal eating is all about.”

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 2 September 2009 / All rights reserved

Cooking as its Own Reward: How to Keep Lesser Motives From Spoiling the Broth

March 23, 2009 5 comments

Girls cooking At my house, my kids help cook and do some cooking of their own. They also take their turns at doing the dishes after dinner.  My approach to getting them to cook varies greatly from how I get them to do the cleaning up, though. Why? Because while true passion about cooking is possible, probably no one alive has more than a fairly limited enthusiasm for washing dishes.

Every child is born naturally interested in cooking. When they see an adult breaking eggs, stirring, mixing, measuring, using equipment like spring-form pans and muffin tins, and tools like knives, whisks , blenders and mixers, and witness miraculous, appetizing transformations emerging from the oven, they want to get involved. And rightly so.

So how do we encourage that intrinsic motivation, and not extinguish it?

Use the Suzuki Method

I use the Suzuki method of quitting while I’m ahead.  Suzuki’s way of teaching music, counterintuitive in our society, directs us to stop them while they still want more instead of pushing to the point of resistance in order to get in as much as possible of instruction or practice.

Keep an activity fun and it remains something that we get to do, not have to do.  My goal is to aim always at whetting the appetite, increasing the desire to do, not necessarily increasing the amount of doing.

The trick is to avoid making it a burden for either party. I have always been casual and spontaneous about getting my kids cooking. Early and easy successes feed their interest. Brownie mixes are a great tool. Occasion little forays into cooking can have a big impact, building the foundation of fun and confidence.

Also in keeping with Suzuki’s principles, the better cooking they’re regularly exposed to, the more inspired they will be.

Let Cooking Be Its Own Reward

Whatever you do, don’t ever reward a child for cooking. The whole point is that they be interested in doing it for its own sake.  Rewarding them sends the message that it’s not something worth doing except for a reward.

According to dozens of studies reported by Alfie Kohn in Punished by Rewards:  The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, being rewarded for an activity tends to reduce one’s interest in doing it, and the chances of doing it again without a reward.

The worst move is rewarding someone for doing something that we would like her to find motivating in its own right, like reading, learning or being generous, Kohn warns.  It’s controlling and manipulative and tends to backfire.

I’m cautious, on the other hand, not to turn cooking into a grim duty.  I really do need my kids’ help cooking sometimes and Iet them know when I do. But I don’t see how any good can come of communicating that, “By gum, I have to do this, so you have to do this. You best prepare for reality, for the drudgery of life.”

That’s like going on a first date and telling your date everything that’s wrong with you before they get a chance to fall for your charms. Once we’ve truly fallen in love with someone, we can, ideally at least, accept little flaws that may gradually emerge.

Let Them Do the Fun Part

Being a sous-chef (under-chef) of the kitchen is less interesting than being the chef. The chef takes charge, selects a recipe, makes whatever makes her heart sing, and does the enjoyable parts instead of just chopping vegetables to fulfill someone else’s vision. For kids who think that being an adult means doing whatever you want, this may be a good motivator.  Let them dream of the day they can fix whatever they want to eat, every single day, like I do.  My family knows that since I’m the chef, I make whatever I feel like making.  On the other hand, any time they want to take over, I will be their sous-chef.  I’ll do their menial tasks.  I’ll clean up. Thus their desire for self-determination is encouraged.

Who doesn’t like to get her own way? That desire can be leveraged. At our house, vinaigrette is a subject of disagreement. Three of us have our own ways of doing it and each believes his way is best. The one who makes it gets to Do it My Way.

As for washing dishes, we take turns at our house, according to a little chart on the side of the fridge. We tell the kids to do it because they are contributing members of the family and that it’s part of the necessary drudgery of life. Otherwise, but for a sense of order that helps hold our lives together, an opportunity to enjoy doing it well and a time of quiet reflection and mental relaxation, they get no external motivators for doing dishes any more than cooking. Who needs to be controlled that way, after all? That’s about all there is to my strategy on that.

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 23 March 2009 / All rights reserved

Why A Child’s Place is In the Kitchen: Relating To and Through Food

March 23, 2009 6 comments

This post was featured in the Charlotte Mason blog carnival on June 9, 2009

Mom and kids cooking

The question is not,—how much does the youth know? When he has finished his education—but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And therefore, how full is the life he has before him?  — Charlotte Mason

Psalm 31:8 Thou hast set my feet in a large room.

My French mother-in-law, Lucienne, once told me early in my marriage that she thought that cooking well helped one keep one’s husband.  I felt a tiny bit defensive; I was working on it. When my Polish sister-in-law, Margozata, and I observed that we didn’t cook as well as our sister-in-law, Marie-Hélène, who had grown up there in the family village, Lucienne tried to console us with, “But you have other good qualities.”

If it’s true that the surest way to the heart is through the stomach, we non-French cooks will just have to do the best we can.

Mother feeding baby When my baby was born, once again came the call to feed well in love.  As it is for the rest of us, the way to a baby’s heart is through feeding time. Food is central to the care and nurturing of a child, but furthermore, it’s the primal soup in which parent-baby bonding germinates.  A baby associates feeding with love, comfort, safety. A child who loves healthy foods as he grows up is a one who learns to relate positively to food in the company of his parents. It’s all related, at a gut level.

Every baby is born not only eager to eat, but also wanting to cook like Mom and Dad. Not only is it a primary means of relating to other humans, but cooking is intrinsically interesting in its own right: stirring, mixing, measuring, cracking eggs, creating, using tools like knives, mixers, fire, not to mention the eating. The processes are sheer experimentation, with reactions, transformations, surprises, delights and disasters.  It’s as richly fascinating a subject as any. Gardening, too, deepens a child’s relationship to food.  What they cook, they will want to eat; what they grow, all the more so.

Even grocery shopping can be an opportunity for kids to get acquainted with food. When my children were little, I would take them to the Farmer’s Market in Decatur, Georgia, the world’s best grocery store.  We would taste samples, look at the cheeses, the vast array of produce, and the seafood—some of it still wriggling. We would often eat lunch together there at the buffet of exotic foods.  My children gained connections to all kinds of food and culture while spending enjoyable time as a family.  They got to know Real Food and had fun doing it. As a result, they aren’t distrustful of it. It’s not foreign to them like it is to some of the youngsters who ring up my groceries and don’t recognize the radishes coming across the conveyor belt.

By leading a child to relate to all that is good in the world, we place their feet in a large room and give them a fuller life.

For some folks, though, their original, built-in interest in food is extinguished along the way instead of fostered.

Some years ago, we visited Rome and were given an incredibly informative tour by my husband’s distant cousin.  Jean-Jacques was a French priest and former physician who formulates family issues policy for the Vatican. He’d been in Italy for nine years. He knew everything about Roman history.

We were struck, on the other hand, by his complete indifference to where or what we ate.  He ate food, of course, but he had no relationship with it and apparently took no pleasure in it. He ate to live, but he clearly didn’t live to eat. My eyes were opened to just how different people can be from one another when I asked him where capers* came from and he had no idea. Nor did he care. It was a shock like the one I got when I first discovered, as an adult, that some people didn’t read the comics. We found it highly unusual for a Frenchman, and a discordant gap in his broad knowledge, like a tragic flaw in a classical Greek hero. We left Rome disappointed in nothing but our gastronomic experiences there. Since Jean-Jacques has no children, at least his disinterest in food was a tragedy only for him. Was it, I have to wonder, perhaps a factor in his remaining single and becoming a priest instead of getting married?

Along with connecting kids to healthy food and to each other, cooking is one of the richest educational opportunities available to a family.  Cooking is a natural way to work, relate and share with others.  It gives a child the chance to both deepen and satisfy his inborn curiosity. He follows directions, takes responsibility, uses his hands and head, and finds satisfaction in concrete accomplishment.  It’s real living. What could be more practical than taking advantage of this natural part of life to teach and equip your youngsters with such valuable assets?

I’m grasping my last opportunities to pass on all these assets to my son, who is going off to college in September.  I tell him that the ability to cook—which he already has a head start on, being half French—is a quality that will make him a valued roommate, and furthermore, good husband material.

I think my mother-in-law would approve.

***

Capon “Food and cooking are among the richest subjects in the world. Every day of our lives, they preoccupy, delight and refresh us. Food is not just some fuel we need to get us going toward higher things. Cooking is not a drudgery we put up with in order to get the fuel delivered. Rather, each is a heart’s astonishment. Both stop us dead in our tracks with wonder. Even more, they sit us down evening after evening, and in the company that forms around our dinner tables, they actually create our humanity.”

– Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

Capers in dish

*Capers are the unripened flower buds of a Mediterranean perennial shrub, used pickled in the cooking of that region.

©  Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 19 March 2009 / All rights reserved

French Kids Don’t Get Fat, But Do French Kids Cook?

March 17, 2009 3 comments
 
Kid cooking Jeff, a reader from Portland, asks: “I wonder as I read your blog whether your family chips in on meals . . . or is this a solo activity.

I have found that my daughters, who are 8 and 12, really enjoy chipping in. But since your kids are older, has the novelty worn off for them, as to cooking . . . ?

 

 

 
Reading through my diary from seventh grade recently, I came across some bitter complaining about how my mom had made me do some cooking for dinner. But then I concluded my whining thus: “But I kinda liked it.”

Then once, and only once, in high school, for some reason, I selected my own recipe, Salisbury Steak—basically a hamburger patty in sauce—something I had only eaten in school cafeterias. I made it for our dinner with mashed potatoes and a simple salad. It was even better than the ones I’d had at school. I enjoyed eating it, and was proud that I could make something that good. I still remember how my dad complimented it.

I never did that again.

A bit like me when I was a teen—but, happily, less so—my kids Alex, 18, and Erika, 16, don’t demonstrate a strong drive to get in the kitchen and cook. All the same, I consider my goals well met for them in this area.

My aim has always been that they enjoy eating and cooking good food. I like cooking well enough that most of the time, I am quite happy to do it all myself. I believe my enjoyment of it has contributed to their positive associations with it. Every child is born ready to cook, and while my kids’ interest is currently a bit dormant, it’s intact and ready to revive when the time comes.

They both offer to help cook sometimes, and other times I ask for their help. Alex says he enjoys it. Erika does like to make desserts. They’ve both successfully made complete recipes on their own and been pleased by doing so. They aren’t intimidated. They are familiar with a wide range of ingredients. They won’t go out into the world feeling mystified by cooking as are some people, who say, “I can’t cook.” They know through experience that any normal, literate person can cook well. That’s an important asset.

My kids are pressed into service more often than I was. They have also been requested to volunteer a good bit more than I did. But until the day cooking becomes their responsibility, they have other priorities. It seems that it’s one of those things they don’t often feel like doing, but generally find themselves able to enjoy it when they do. When the time comes, I think they’ll be ready to embrace it.

I don’t fault my mom for not making me do much cooking, any more than I did when I was still a teen, if for other reasons. I believe it’s better to err on the side of doing too little than pushing a child to do too much in the kitchen. Certainly my interest in cooking never had a chance to be extinguished. I just feel bad that my working mom got so little help from me. I like to think I could have maybe responded well to her pushing me just a bit more. I know I would have done more and enjoyed it, whether I would have admitted it or not.

  •  

 
Jeff’s question merits a series of answers. Today’s post is the first of several to come, which will discuss the value of involving children in cooking, how to preserve their motivation, the importance of keeping it fun, and letting cooking be its own reward.

 
© French Kids Don’t Get Fat / Anna Migeon / 17 March 2009 / All rights reserved

Why and How Long You Should You Wait Before Teaching Your Child the Benefits of Healthy Eating

March 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Kids scared "What’s Eating Our Kids?" asks writer Abby Ellin in a Feb. 25 New York Times article. The answer? "Fears about ‘Bad’ Foods."

(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/health/nutrition/26food.html?_r=2&th&emc=th)

Bad food Many American parents are finding out just how effective it can be to bring out the boogey men of diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, along with the goblins of sodium, calories, and trans fats. Anxiety has been found to be an effective motivator. These kids willingly eat what their parents want them to eat. That's what we want, right?

It’s not a bad thing that parents are getting concerned about what their kids are eating. I believe it to be of extreme importance. But the tide of mass carelessness about children’s diets has turned to mass hysteria. While using fear to get children to eat right seems to work, at least short-term, it may not be so good for these youngsters’ mental health, according to the article. Furthermore, is it right? Is such unpleasantness necessary? Must feeding children well be difficult and tortured? Or is there a better way, somewhere between the extremes, to build healthy eating habits in kids?

Conventional wisdom is that we need to start early teaching—even warning—kids of the importance of eating healthy foods and the dangers of eating the wrong ones. But until a child builds a solid foundation of love of healthy foods based on pleasure and enjoyment, information on the importance of healthy eating is of little use at best. A child who is offered flavorful, healthy Real Food regularly and has positive experiences at the table naturally learns to enjoy and value good food itself.

It’s like teaching children to read. We can start out by talking about verbs, participles and gerunds, or how high SAT scores can be achieved by reading certain books and memorizing Latin roots. We can give kids t-shirts that say "Reading for Success." We can warn first graders that if they don’t learn to read, and quickly, they will fail. They will never get into college or get a good job, and will end up living in a box on the street. Or we can read aloud to them all the best written stories we can find, the most exciting, interesting and stirring tales. We can pique their interest and give them joy in reading. If we seek first to condition them to love reading as its own reward, all these things will be added unto them.

Likewise, we can introduce a class of kindergartners to great music by telling them how it can make them smarter (they used to say that anyway) and improve their math and spatial reasoning skills. Or we can introduce them to great music, the best music we can find and only the best. Let them dance, let them make their own music, let them fall in love with it.

We can teach science as something that will help them make a lot of money someday. We can tell them if they don’t memorize their science facts, they will fail the standardized test and flunk third grade, the start of a slippery slope to destruction. Or we can introduce science in all its amazing intricacies and fascinating interrelations, and fan their inborn desire to know about their world.

Similarly, we might introduce a child to Jesus, not as the loving, forgiving, life-giving Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, who suffers the little children to come unto him and transforms our hearts, but as an alternative to eternal damnation in hell. There is meaning in our methods.

Kids don’t care about getting a job and making money. At least they shouldn’t. If they do, they’ve been done a great disservice. If they’re worried about trans fats at age six and are motivated to eat what they don’t want to eat by information instead of enjoying healthy food with a healthy appetite, another disservice is being done.

As parents, we should be like water fowl: our feet churning madly below while all serenity on the surface. We need to be concerned and take great care how we feed our children. But is it right, is it normal, that we should we lay our own burden on our little ones, any more than we should share with a child our worries about having enough money to pay the bills, or problems with a spouse?

When it’s age appropriate, once the foundation of love has been solidly laid, a child will discover the facts that affirm his healthy eating habits, habits he enjoys. He’ll be glad to hear about it. And a little fear isn’t necessarily completely out of place at times. But first things first.

We ought to take great care about what our child eats, but we can and should base good habits on love of good foods, rather than with fear of bad ones. Consistently offer healthy, delicious Real Food, and hunger will take care of the rest.

© French Kids Don’t Get Fat / Anna Migeon / 11 March 2009 / All rights reserved

Dinner Table Pharisees and Born-Again Vegetable Lovers

March 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Pharisees

Keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.  — Proverbs 4:23

“In education, as in religion, it is the motive that counts,” writes educational reformer Charlotte Mason in A Philosophy of Education. I would add that motive is equally important in eating.

As true faith and love that come as gifts of the Holy Spirit are the purest motivators for religious practice or living “by the rules,” curiosity is the most powerful reason for learning. Hunger is the best reason to eat. We might even say those are the only reasons we need.

Phariseeism is doing what we’re supposed to but for wrong or lesser reasons. Inwardly, we’re not really with the spirit of the program, but are living in conflict with truth and goodness. For example, we may not rob or kill our neighbor, but is it because we care how other people feel, or because we don’t want to go to jail?

Or children may study their history facts because they want to get a good grade or a cookie, or want to be the best or get a good job someday, rather than because they want to know. Or they eat their vegetables because Mom told them to, or because they won’t get dessert otherwise, or even because it’s good for them, not because it satisfies their hunger, and they enjoy it and feel good afterwards. These situations are less generally seen as a problem than the example of robbing or killing. At least they’re learning, we might say, or at least they’re eating vegetables. Why does it matter how we feel about it as long as we do it?

Yet, I show unto you a more excellent way.

Eating what you enjoy and enjoying what you eat is better for you.

If we don’t enjoy it, it isn’t good for us, at least one study shows. Likewise, without interest or curiosity, how much genuine learning really goes on?

So various methods of “getting kids to eat” what they don’t want to eat, or bribes for good behavior, are about as worthwhile as what Charlotte Mason called “forcible intellectual feeding.”

If have succeeded in getting my kid to eat vegetables but fail to teach them to enjoy them, I am become as a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. I gain nothing.

When we teach children that their motives generally don’t matter, when we train them to detach their actions from their heart, to conform outwardly while their inclinations lead otherwise, we lead them to be like Pharisees. While it may be necessary at times to do what we should do whether we feel like it or not, and I’m not advocating that we allow children to go ahead and rob, kill, eat junk, or generally indulge their lesser selves, but neither should we be satisfied with outward conformity. It matters what’s in our hearts; we should address the desires themselves.

When our inclinations go against truth and good, it is our inclinations that need to be adjusted. In a state of true freedom—a state of grace—doing the right thing comes of a willing heart, not from a resignation to self denial. That can include dinner time.

Eating what you enjoy and enjoying what you eat is more sustainable.

Why rely on will power to resist what you really want when you can align your desires with what’s good for you? When we love what’s good for us, what need is there for dieting, deprivation, resolutions, guilt, failed efforts to lose weight?

Just as those who learn their history facts for reasons other than wanting to know are less likely to delve into the subject on their own, those who eat broccoli for the wrong reasons eat little broccoli when it’s up to them.

Asking a child to dutifully eat to be healthy is like trying to ask them to fulfill the law. No one is capable of keeping it up. Why make them eat vegetables out of duty when you can free them to eat vegetables out of love? It’s like guiding a carriage where the horse wants to go versus trying to drive it against its will.

Eating for enjoyment produces results.

A child who dislikes what’s good for her has a fallen nature. Her inborn appetite for real things has been warped through the influence of her environment. Born with a taste for Real Foods, she develops a taste for crummy ones. When kids eat something because Mom tells them to, or to get a reward, or approval, praise, or just relief from hounding or out of a sense of obligation or guilt, their appetite for that food shrivels. Prodding them to eat may get immediate results, but it’s counterproductive long-term. It undermines their appetite and builds resistance. When all that matters is results, solid results are actually harder to achieve.

So a child lives, like many adults, in the conflict of what she wants versus what she should. Should she deny herself, take up her cross and eat healthy foods, a slave to the laws of should and shouldn’t, bland and dreary, calorie-counting, low-fat, low-sodium, sugar-free deprivation, or should she give in to her urges and eat junk?

The narrow path between the extremes is a smooth one with a lighter burden to carry: eating for satisfaction’s sake, learning for knowledge’s sake, doing all for the sake of love through grace, in spirit and in truth.

Paradise Regained

Once the paradise of our natural God-given love for natural, healthy foods is lost, it can and should be regained.

A goal for parents in feeding or educating their children should be to shepherd their hearts to love good things, toward self-education and self-feeding.

It’s not that we just need to try harder. It’s not necessary to live in conflict; we can be free by aligning desires with goodness. All it takes is an open mind, a new willingness to explore, taste and appreciate. Good recipes are essential. Hunger is our best ally. The appetite will sharpen, respond and revive. We can get back to our true nature, the way we were meant to be. We trip across health on the way to satisfying our inborn appetite with tasty, well prepared, exciting and varied Real Foods.

Child and parent whole-heartily eating what’s both delicious and nourishing, without inner or outer conflict, is truly a state of grace.

Related Post:

Feeding Kids: How Cleaning up Your Act Can Make Things Even Worse

This post was included in the Charlotte Mason blog carnival

©  Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 15 February 2009 / All rights reserved