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On Food Fear

Part of the reason Maryann and I wrote Fearless Feeding was not only to create a childhood nutrition and feeding resource that would carry you through the ups and downs of feeding kids, but also to take away the fear around food and feeding. If you watch TV or are on the Internet, you’ll find a lot of hate, disdain and judgment thrown at food, and parents.

Don’t Let Fear Rule

You’ll find extremists who would never feed their child food dyes or artificial flavors. You’ll find alarmists who instill the fear of you-know-who if you aren’t a nutrition purist, or don’t follow certain nutrition principles. And the promise that if you just get the food part right, your nutrition troubles will melt away. The result of this popular, fear-based strategy?  

Food fear. And the undying search for the perfect diet.

When fear rules food choices and eating, it’s easy to become overly focused on it. And that’s not healthy.

Nothing is Perfect (Sorry, folks.)

There is no perfect food. And there is no perfect diet. We all have different needs, taste preferences, food history, budgets, cultural background and more, making any one person’s experience with food and eating just that—one person’s experience. Keep that in mind.

I am not the only one who sees the fear running rampant! My friend and colleague, Real Mom Nutrition, vented on her blog about this topic and made some valuable points. You should check it out.

The bottom line is—you don’t need to be afraid of food. It’s not that powerful, and shouldn’t be a topic of disdain, regret or hate. That’s a long road to hoe if you plan to live your life. It’s time to take the emotion out of food, and treat it as it should be treated—as food—the stuff we need to eat every day as a basis for our health and wellness. If you happen to enjoy it, even better. ‘Stuff’ is a loose term—you can define what that means for you and your family. No judgment here.

Relying on the Science

Then there was the post from Yoni Freedhof from Weighty Matters about reading the science before getting worked up and posting, blogging or re-tweeting the information, which may be flawed or inconclusive—and create yet more fear. I agree. He says, “Read it before you tweet it.”

I say, don’t believe everything you hear or see—be a skeptic. Look for the proof. Understand that science evolves, and sometimes conclusions are changed. Case in point: the guidelines for peanut introduction in infants.

Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend!

As for me, I am going to enjoy my Memorial Day Weekend, eating what I want (and how much I want), being active and resting. You won’t see me skirting the dessert table or the potatoes or the bread. And you know what? For many people who know me, they are refreshed to see that I am, what they call, a “normal eater.” I indulge, I balance, I moderate, and I limit when I need to. That’s what I am hoping to teach my kids, you, and the kids with which I work.

You won’t see me telling my kiddos to “ease up on food,” or “make healthy choices,” especially in a party atmosphere. I hope (and am fairly confident) that they will use the “ask first” rule, indulge in the foods they don’t see very much at home, and balance their overall eating with foods that make them feel good.

Navigating the outside world of food is NOT about avoiding this or that food all the time. It’s about trials, and success and failure. There’s a lot to learn in the world of food—we can help our children learn the ins and outs of all food, without fear, and teach the art of balance.

What do you think of all this hoopla and fear about food?

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  1. Jill, I love that fact that you are going to eat what you want without worrying about it. I think more of us need to do that from time to time.

    Dieting should not be a struggle for us and neither should eating. The basic thing that we need to keep in mind is that the only real way to lose weight is to burn more than we consume.

    There is no magic diet or pill out there for us. It is a combination of common sense and good general eating habits.

    This also doesn’t mean that we can never indulge but it does mean that we have to keep it in moderation. If we allow ourselves to eat “junk” food every day then our bodies are going to pay in the long run. A little treat from time to time is what works best!

  2. so enjoyed meeting you last week! i wholeheartedly agree with your “everything in moderation”tact. and, as the mom of young children, i am loving “fearless feeding”!

  3. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mania of feeding your family the “perfect” foods. I’ve realized, to keep my sanity, I just need to pick and choose my battles. For example, I buy organic when it’s most important to me (ex. tomatoes and strawberries) and conventional otherwise (ex. bananas) to make healthy eating affordable for my family.