My son ate egg whites and raisin bran for breakfast this morning. And it is really tempting for my to use this as an example of how children who are left to make their own food choices end up making “healthy” choices eventually. But the cautionary tale here is that that statement is coming from my diet mind that still wants to label foods good and bad and has nothing to do with my son.
He chose egg whites because he has never liked the yolk part. And raisin bran tastes good to him and dad loves it and sometimes loving what your dad loves is a way to find connection. His younger brother will be happy to wake up and discover their are extra yolks for him to add to his egg plate. Because for as long as they have been eating eggs one eats around the yolks and the other the whites. I have tried to get them to share an egg before but they have preferred the whole egg eat around method. Lucky me that now their is not any egg left on the plates to clean up.
By providing a pantry full of a variety of foods throughout their growing up I have created opportunities for the boys to explore plenty of foods. By biting my tongue, most of the time, when they made the choices they did I have created a judgement free zone for them to find those foods that nourish their individual bodies. But greater than that I have facilitated an environment where the boys have been able to listen to and trust their own bodies. I am not living in those bodies. I can not know what does or does not feel good inside of them. This sort of autonomy over their bodies begins with me trusting them, to trust their bodies. I don’t have the ability to truly hear my body most of the time. Witnessing my boys use language that explains how they are feeling inside of their bodies is healing for me and a celebratory for them.
My youngest son has food allergies. I suspected early on what foods were the culprit. I offered my insights. And then I stood back and supported my son as he made food choices. I did not police what he ate. I did not claim to know more than he did about what was going on inside his body. I watched as he discovered on his own. He ate the offending foods and I held his hand while he was uncomfortable. One day, July 21st 2013 to be exact, he made the mind body connection and decided to stop eating all of the offending foods. He has been temped at birthday parties, favorite restaurants and potluck gatherings, every time he has chosen to keep his body feeling good and avoid the offending foods. Because he wants to feel good inside of his body and has discovered through is own trial and error just how to do this.
Supporting our children in exploring all of their food desires while simultaneously untangling our own hang ups around food is a beautiful gift we hand our children. It goes a long way in supporting a trusting, connected relationship while also helping them to discover how to care for their own bodies. Because the truth is one day they are going to be out in the world without me and I want them to know how to have full authority over all the parts of their bodies.