From the Nutrition Trenches

I had a challenger sum up the struggle a lot of us face in adulthood in a simple sentence, “I finally realized I can’t out exercise my diet.” We like to blame our inability to find time to workout as the reason we struggle with our health. This was totally me! “Sure, I exercise-but I am already pretty thin I don’t really need a meal plan, I just need to exercise more. Ok, so these last few pounds of baby weight are being stubborn, but that is just because I can’t run as much as I’d like. FINE, I’m a little tired and headachy, and prone to sinus infections and strep, but that’s just the weather, or hormones, or you know, life. Whatever. I just need more cardio.”

You know the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen”? Well, it’s true. But a better one is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You know where prevention happens? In the kitchen. What you eat matters, folks. A LOT.

And I totally get why people fight against this concept. For one, sure balancing food groups has always been imperative for optimal physical health, but a hundred years ago what was available to eat was a LOT different from today-a hundred years ago people were mostly still eating food. Convenience food changed the game, it has so screwed up the typical Western diet that we have to have a label (clean eating) for eating actual food. The problem with convenience food is that quite simply a lot of it ISN’T food. I have nothing against chemicals or modern medicine or technology-but chemicals that aren’t food, well, they AREN’T FOOD.

My youngest son tries to eat everything. For awhile I found mulch that had passed through his system in his diaper on a weekly basis. I continued to try and prevent him from getting into the garden. Why? Because mulch isn’t food, people. Sure, he managed to pass it (THANK GOODNESS) but that doesn’t make it food! Not only is there no nutritive value to mulch, but his body had to work to process it and filter out any toxins that existed in the dye or from simply being outside in the garden. So much of what is in processed food isn’t food anymore (or ever was) and it puts a strain on your body’s systems as it tries to filter out all the foreign crap-just like my son eating mulch-and your body get’s very little for it’s efforts. We’ve tried to cheat the system by stripping foods of all their nutrients so that they can be convenient and quick, pack them full of fat, sugar, and salt so that they don’t taste like the cardboard they’re reduced to, and then we just dump a bunch of chemically synthesized vitamins in at the end to try and make up for it. Never mind that our bodies don’t process synthesized vitamins as well as those found in the natural form-we mark it “Enriched!” and use it as a selling point.

People look at you like you must be some die hard health nut when you talk about “clean eating” but if you think about it, NOT eating “clean” is a fairly recent phenomenon. I’m eating food, guys. That’s all. I season it with spices and herbs, I cook it with oil or steam or dry heat, I chop it, I slice it, sometimes all I do is rinse it off. It’s not weird, it’s food.

You know what? You can still eat unhealthily while eating clean. I can (and sometimes do, haha) make desserts that are “clean” that are just as loaded with sugar and fat and deliciousness. My portions can still be completely out of whack. I could get completely overweight but still be eating clean-it would just take more effort. And THAT is where the rub comes in.

People like to blame gluttony and poor impulse control/lack of willpower for the expanding waistlines and rapidly rising disease rates all around us-but the truth is gluttony is only half the problem, and sometimes I don’t think it’s even that much. The real problem is laziness. We’re completely disconnected from the work it takes to make food, and if we are honest with ourselves-we really don’t want to reconnect.

Case in point-when I decided to stop buying store bought bread and to only eat the stuff I made from scratch-I ate a LOT less bread. Every slice was weighed and considered. And absolutely savored. Making bread is time consuming, and I knew as soon as I ate the last loaf I’d have to make more. I gravitate towards simple recipes because of the time commitment that many recipes take. The end results of complex recipes are often stunningly delicious-but I am more often than not unwilling to spend that much time preparing. I know I’m not the only one who is lazy when it comes to food.

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Bread straight from the oven = Heaven. On. Earth.

Many women seem to take pride in their hatred for the culinary arts-and as a backlash against society I get it, but it’s not healthy. And men seem to have this weird “if it’s not grilling it’s not manly” vibe going on that-not being a man-I totally don’t understand. Regardless, it isn’t healthy. I’m not saying everyone has to “love cooking”, but when we talk about making food as something we can “choose” to do or not based simply on how much we enjoy it, we’re thinking about food completely wrong. You don’t have to love prepping food (I don’t), you don’t have to feel bliss as you season soup, or joy as you roast a chicken, or bubbles of wonderment as you lay the labor of your hands on the dinner table. None of those things are necessary for your life. Food, however, you must eat. And to be kind to your body you should try to eat as little “not food” as you can. This means you will have to prep food, and will probably want to cook it, and season it, and make it taste ok. The place this typically happens is the kitchen. It doesn’t require love or hate, making food should simply be a fact of life.

With that said-I’m still lazy, or well, time conscious. With two adorable ankle biters howling around my knees every time I set foot in the kitchen, I still prefer quick foods. And you can still have that and eat clean and healthily. I eat fruits straight out of the fridge-takes less then 5 seconds to grab a handful of grapes or an apple or strawberries or whatever. I scramble eggs almost daily. Just two eggs with some dill. No milk, no chopped veggies, no anything but eggs and herbs. 10 minutes tops. I eat red peppers without slicing them-like one oddly lumpy vegetable apple. You can’t tell me that the drive through is quicker than half the stuff I eat-because it isn’t. And half the “quick and easy” boxed meals take longer then the dinners I choose plus they taste half as good.

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Trying (and failing, haha) to get a boys and me selfie. Notice the red pepper? Mmmm yum!

Give food a chance, people. Give cooking a chance. Don’t set out to make a three course meal, just learn how to make eggs the way you like them. Figure out your favorite fruit. Discover where your aversion to spending time in the kitchen comes from-society pressures, bad experiences, impossible expectations-and take steps to correct it. You might be surprised at how easy it is to eat well when you step back and get out of your own way. 😉

You’ll NEVER believe the SUPER FABULOUS MINDBLOWING thing that happens NEXT!

Seriously, click bait? Seriously? I get annoyed at the hyperbole that runs rampant across social media. I’m in this team competition thing with some other coaches, and one of the challenges was to post about Shakeology but using the words “daily dose of superfoods”. I’m gonna be honest-it makes me cringe. Now, I LOVE me some Shakeology. It is made from all real, whole foods. The foods are nutrient dense and contain all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, I need for a balanced meal plus extra stuff like pre-and probiotics AND the founders continually look for sources that are eco friendly and benefit the farmers. I think that’s really cool (maybe not your cup of hippy tea, but it’s mine). I really don’t like the word “super food”. I don’t like unnecessary hyperbole. I don’t like labeling food in general, and “super food” just irritates me-even if it fits the criteria from the current nutrition standpoints that do label food super and otherwise. To me, it cheapens Shakeology.

There. I said it. I’m an elitist. I’m a protein drink snob. I don’t want viral clicks on Shakeology from fad following superlative driven yo-hos. You need to be serious. You need to be skeptical. You need to do your own research before you jump on this wagon. And if it is not for you-for whatever reason, then don’t get it.

Do I think Shakeology is beneficial for me? Yes. Do I think almost everybody could benefit from drinking it? Also, yes. It’s food. It’s really well balanced and nutritive but it is legitimately FOOD not chemical additives, supplements, synthesized vitamins, or what have you. It’s food, you guys. Almost everyone could benefit from having one completely balanced meal of real food a day. (I say almost, because I don’t like grandiose absolutes much more than I like excessive superlatives. Someone out there may already be eating exactly perfectly and Shakeo wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Or maybe they’re allergic to every single ingredient. Or something.)

I have been asked whether it’s something I see myself maintaining “for the long term” and when I first bought it I would’ve said, “No, maybe just for a year or two.” But now? I don’t see any reason why I won’t be drinking this into my dotage. People daily drink coffee their entire lives. People daily drink sweet tea their entire lives. People daily drink soda their entire (shorter) lives (ha! ha! Sorry, couldn’t resist the soda jab). Why is it so weird that I daily drink Shakeology? Can the only reason to daily consume something be pleasure? Can I not drink something that is pleasurable AND balanced? There are 220 calories in a McDonald’s large sweet tea. I used to drink that daily. There are 160-170 calories in Shakeo made with just water. I mix it with fruit and water, so I’m in the 200-240 calorie range (depending on which fruit and how much). But instead of refined sugar, I’m drinking protein, vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, prebiotics, probiotics… Seriously, what is the problem here?

And I like it. I don’t like all the flavors, I don’t like all the recipes, but I’ve found the way that I DO like it, and I, well, LIKE it. I ENJOY THIS STUFF. So. Yes, I think you should drink Shakeology. No, I will not try to trick/woo/browbeat you into buying it. You should be a little skeptical. You should do your own research. But I’ve done mine, and “super food” or not, it’s a staple part of my fitness.

Second Christmas

So this week gearing up for Hammer and Chisel has been busy and nervewracking. You know, that antsy, fidgety, anticipatory energy like right before giving a speech on something you’re passionate about or running a race or anything you are kindof dreading and excited about all at the same time? That’s how I feel. It’s almost like being a kid at Christmas and being so excited your stomach starts hurting and you begin to imagine all sorts of disasters that might happen to ruin Christmas and by the time Christmas morning arrives- screw presents, you’re utterly exhausted with relief that the cat didn’t become demon possesed and eat Santa Claus.

Tomorrow is my second Christmas morning.

In preparation this week I have created an instagram account to track my progress on here. Come follow me! I have pinterest recipe scoured, meal planned, grocery shopped, food prepped, ToDo list checked, and weekly scheduled in anticipation of the next 60 days.

One thing I thought was important was having some way of tracking progress. Before and After photos are typical- and I took them.

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Personally, I’m looking for a little more toe gap. How ever will I fit into sandals come summer?!

On top of that, I did a mini “strength test” because for me, honestly, the joy of exercise is not in my appearance but in my capability. So I did a plank, and just barely managed to hold it for 2 minutes. And a wall sit-also struggled to hit that 2 minute mark. And then I attempted pullups (you can see the video on my instagram account… *hint hint* FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM). I managed two and a quarter pull ups. All together, guys, that’s pretty lame. I mean, much better than a few months ago where I couldn’t even do ONE pull up, but still a far cry from where I want to be.

I’m gonna be a beast at the end of this, able to “fly” my 2.5 year old like an airplane for hours, muscle my squirming 15mo old down for a diaper change (a complete body workout) without fail, and double carry the boys 60lbs combined wiggly weight the quarter mile to and from the park without breaking a sweat. I’ll be able to pry them off of the playground one handed, play “ribbet frog” down the hallway until THEY call it quits, and still have enough energy to run and catch them when I say it’s nap time.

It’s going to be epic.

It isn’t to late (it is never too late) to join in the fun! Whether it’s a weight program like H&C, a nutrition plan, yoga, just trying to quit soda-everybody has to start somewhere with living healthier. And now is a GREAT time to start-New Year and all that. Don’t struggle by yourself, come over to the health nut dark side! We have communities of likeminded weirdos in various stages of learning to live healthy, it’s totally cool! Seriously though, let me know what I can do to help you meet your goals, I can’t emphasize enough how important support is for success. 🙂

I’VE GOT TO GO TO BED IT’S H&C EVE! 😀

Snooking Up Hoflakes

^^^ I meant to say, “Hooking up snowflakes” but my tired brain turned our kid friendly conversation PG13. Decorating with toddlers is not for the faint of heart…

This extended visit with family has been nuts, y’all. I cherish the healthy, happy relationships I have with my family and in-laws, and family is a priority for me-I want the boys to know their Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. This is tough being military since we’ve been in for 7 years and lived in 4 different states already. Holidays are especially frustrating for me because I wrestle with seasonal depression every winter-so annoying. So I knew this trip was going to be rough. I knew it was also something I needed to do.

Oh man. I brought my bag of ShakeO-which with it’s full compliment of B vitamins (include happy lovin’ B12) has been helping to keep me just above emotional exhaustion. And it tastes better than the pill supplements I usually take this time of year, ha. Grandparents have been awesome-spotting me naps here and there, providing an outlet for the boys’ need to hug/tackle people, and generally giving me a break. I miss Brian-it’s like a mini deployment, boo. I have NOT been able to exercise regularly. 🙁 A number of things have contributed to that, but it’s a bummer all the way around.

I’ve come to the realization that I am now REALLY sensitive to sugar and caffeine. I went in knowing I was going to bend my typical diet (diet as in “foods I usually consume” not diet as in “weird list of restrictions/rules pertaining to eating” ) because it’s the holidays and I was not going to stress about it. So I didn’t stress. I had coffee and oreos and ice cream whenever I felt like it (read:daily). After a few days I couldn’t drag myself out of bed and I had a perpetual headache drugs didn’t touch. So no more of that. Or at least, far, far less, haha. I still like the above foods, but whoa, not enough to deal with feeling pummeled by a dump truck. I’m feeling much better now, and I am still indulging in sweet tea which is enough caffeine and sugar for me. Is there such a thing as a sugar hang over? Also, I just can’t do fastfood. Instant gross. Not only does it taste gross, it feels gross. Bleeeeeeaaarrggh. I don’t miss it.

Big perks though-I still cook dinner most nights, and I don’t have ANY leftovers because my parents eat it. 😀 I LOVE having my food EATEN. I can cook meals that I like-regardless of whether the boys will eat it or not-and I know I won’t have to eat leftovers for the next four days! And, on that note, I really like home cooked meals better than eating out. Don’t get me wrong, there are nights when I want to eat out just because I really don’t feel like cooking, but I used to like eating out for the sake of the food. Now I eat out for the sake of not cooking-my mom and I can make better tasting food at the house.

That’s my update for now. I’m getting really excited about the Hammer and Chisel program Brian and I are doing together starting January 4th-oh how nice it will be to exercise faithfully again! There’s still time to join us if you’re looking for a way to get healthier in 2016. And if not that program, there are many, many other options. I know people now, lol.

But seriously, maybe think about a few wellness goals for the new year?

Throwing in the Towel

We made it to the end! Last on the list for what not to say to children about food-is when we, the parents, give up. And although this list is about “saying” things to kids, you don’t always have to say anything. If you realize your two year old is not eating dinner so you leave the table and make something you know they’ll eat that is different from what everyone else is eating, well, you’ve encouraged them to stay picky. You’ve told them that they don’t actually ever have to try new foods, they will always get what they want.

Ouch. This one is a tough habit to break. I don’t know any parents that like dealing with a cranky, hungry toddler. I also don’t know a lot of parents that are adept at creating meals every night with enough side dishes to please everyone. This is where my slice of bread at night thing comes in handy. The slice comes at least an hour after dinner-so it isn’t an immediate, “here, let me feed you something else” and despite the amount of dinner consumed they only ever get one slice and that is the only pre bed snack they get. Cade can choose butter or no butter, Zane gets PB and honey. It’s part of their routine-they’re offered bread an hour after a good dinner (which often isn’t eaten completely) and bread an hour after a not so good dinner, and it helps take the edge of the hunger from a not well eaten dinner so that they at least fall asleep at night. Now, if they didn’t eat much at dinner they usually wake up ready to eat off my face if I don’t get oatmeal provided quickly enough, but hey, that’s life with toddlers. And so far, Cade is still a more adventuresome eater then a lot of two year olds. Tonight he actually tried chicken and red beets in goat cheese. He didn’t eat a lot-although he licked all of the “pink!” cheese-and he was more interested in trying to cut the chicken then consume it BUT he tried it.

I may phase this “pre bed” snack out, regardless, because I really want to encourage my boys to eat a variety of foods-but it’s a nice fall back for when I forget to make them a side at dinner that I know they’ll eat. And if I do it ONLY when I forget to make them a side at dinner, then I feel like I AM reinforcing the idea that they’ll always get what they want. But if I do it consistently around 7-730 and it is always the same thing, then it seems more like normal routine and less like “something special”. Like, when the boys don’t eat a big lunch-for whatever reason-but the typical snack they get when they wake up is a banana. They like bananas-but I’m not reinforcing that they don’t need to eat lunch since the banana doesn’t happen AT lunch.

Does that make any sense? Lol. Anyway. I am relieved that I have made it to the end of this list. I love reading Maryann’s blog, but this consistent posting thing is not my forte-especially this time of year. I’ll keep working on it, though, and maybe get a few recipes up. 🙂

Guilty Pleasures

Number 9! “We don’t eat cake often because it is bad for you.” 

Now the child equates pleasure with “being bad”. Womp womp. This falls under the category of “food judging/labeling” but I like that she includes all of the different nuances of judging on her list, because too often we think, “well, I don’t do it blatantly or like so and so does, so it’s ok…” when the literature points to the contrary. With eating disorders and child obesity on the rise, it’s important to stop equivocating and start putting a tiny grain of faith in the research. This particular method of judgement is crucial, in my opinion, because it can so easily extend to other areas besides food. “Well, if all the food I like that tastes delicious are BAD for me, then these other things I like must be bad…and THEN well if a thing is BAD then it must be pleasurable.” Uh oh.

End story here people: food is food is food. At our house, “Food gives us energy and strength.” ALL food. From cupcakes to carrots. That is ALL I say about food to the kids. Internally, of course, I’m trying to slant the victory towards fruits and veggies, but I do this WITHOUT telling them. I am not talking about sneaking vegetables into dinner-Maryann actually address the problems associated with this method in a different article here-I’m talking about eating lots of healthy food in front of them and making all sorts of (genuine) “yum yum!” noises the same as if I am eating cake. I’m talking about not keeping cookies, crackers, or less nutritionally desirable food in the house so that when it comes to snack time their (and my!) only options are somewhat healthy.

The suggestion made for this particular scenario is to explain that we only eat cake sometimes-like at parties or celebrations- and that we’ll have more cake then. We do this with the boys and bread. I monitor their bread intake because too much and-not only do they eat less fruits and veggies-they also don’t poop. So all wheat based products get limited throughout the day. However, I make my own bread so I don’t feel bad giving them a piece consistently. They may get a piece during the day, but they almost always get a piece as a pre bed time snack. So if Cade asks for bread first thing, I simply say, “No, bud, it’s oatmeal time. We’ll have bread tonight before bed.” I repeat it however many times I need to, but usually just once is enough to satisfy and we don’t have to label anything.

Tomorrow will be the last post on picky eaters! If you want more pretty cool tips and tricks, follow the Raise Healthy Eaters blog! (And no, she doesn’t pay me to advertise, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know my tiny blog exists, haha. Still! Good stuff. 🙂 )

Judgement

This is probably one of those things that sneaks into conversation without anyone even realizing it. 7th on the list of 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Child About Food is the commonplace, “Eat this, it’s good for you.” This, unfortunately, backfires and basically tells the kid that it’s going to taste awful. I find that any judgement about food is bad. Don’t say food is bad, don’t say food is good, don’t try and convince children that vegetables will give them super powers, or anything along those lines. Setting up food as good or bad just invites an unhealthy perspective on food-like guilt and shame, or the reverse a sense of “rightness” or moral superiority-all centered around one of the basic needs of life.

At our house, food is food. I do say things like, “food give us energy.” but I don’t say things like, “carrots are good for your eyesight” or the reverse “French fries can make you fat”. There is no good and bad, no healthy vs unhealthy dialogue between the boys and I. Now I DO pick foods that I believe are healthy, I DO think there are foods that are better for your body, and I try to present balanced meals. We generally don’t keep less nutritionally desirable foods in the house, so we don’t really have to fight this battle at home. When we eat, we talk pretty much only about taste. “Mmmm mommy likes this. Do you like yours, Cade?” “Do you think this is tasty?” Cade answers yes or no and their is no judgement for either response. If he says No it’s just an, “Ok, well Mommy will eat it then because she likes it. Would you like this?” Food is food is food. However, when we go out to get ice cream or get a hashbrown or fries at McDonalds, the tone of voice and conversation remains the same. Food is food is food. When the boys are older we can start slowly talking about nutrition, but there will be no food shaming. I like French fries on the rare occasion. So I eat them. I like peach pie, too. And cake. And a Dairyman from Hickory Farms (helloooooo cheese!). And I don’t feel guilt or shame when I eat any of the above-despite them not being a superfood omega 3 fatty acid antioxidant vitamin powerhouse fighting cancer food, or whatever.

Don’t tell your kids vegetables are good for them. Don’t even say it around them. Don’t judge food.

Praise

Past the halfway point! Number 6 on our list is praising children for eating more than usual at a meal. Now, some parents don’t say “Good Job” ever-but we aren’t those parents. We do try to encourage without an endless stream of banal “Good Jobs” floating after every accomplishment, and I definitely engage with the boys and ask them questions about what they accomplished or ways to do it differently or how it felt or blabbity blah. I can’t seem to help myself with that, it’s just the natural course of interacting with toddlers. BUT we do use Good Job on occasion, because sometimes I think kids need to know when a job is well done, and I don’t think it is a horror or a sin to have them seek parental approval. Ahem, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

On this one, Maryann is specifically addressing any sort of praise after a large meal. This continues to mess with the child’s understanding of internal hunger cues as their desire to please overrides their body’s needs. We don’t say good job at the end of meals, in fact, we don’t say it much at all during the dinner. If anything it is at the beginning. If I offer Cade a new food and he tries it I praise him. He doesn’t have to eat all the rest of the food on his plate, and each subsequent bite doesn’t get praise, it’s just that initial taste. And then I ask him how it tastes, whether he liked it, what other things he likes, etc., etc., etc. So this one isn’t a struggle for us. I do sometimes get a little nervous about how little the boys eat at meals, but I am more likely to be guilty of food pushing. If they eat a lot I’m just relieved, ha, and don’t say anything at all in case I jinx it.

Not Just For Kids

“If you eat your veggies, then you can have dessert.” ….This, to me, is a two things in one on “what not to say about food” and I think it really needs to be struck from not just our dialogue but also our thought process. This 1.) makes veggies a chore and 2.) dessert a reward. Leave food rewarding to dog trainers, don’t teach it to your kids, but better yet, examine your own mindset.

This is THE way society views food. Health bars that are “guilt free!” (there should be no guilt to begin with). “You won’t believe it’s good for you, tastes just like dessert!” (So, things that are good for you automatically taste horrible). The number of commercials with women practically making love to tiny cups of yogurt compared to others staring woefully at wilted salads in their quest to “be healthy”…This mentality that vegetables taste gross and if you do something good you should reward yourself with sweets is ingrained into the fabric of this culture. Statements like this make vegetables work. A chore to be done. Business to get through. A task to survive. And dessert is made MORE desirable by making it a reward. Believe me, people, we don’t need any help in making dessert desirable-it’s flipping delicious. We-the entire human race- are always going to enjoy the taste of sugar (and how it lights up the happy places in our brain).

But vegetables don’t taste gross (at least not all of them. I’ve yet to meet a pea that I didn’t DIDN’T like). They may not taste like a triple chocolate lava cake- but that doesn’t make them automatically gross. Or even work. Your child will be flooded with this idea that vegetables are work and dessert is the best thing ever- keep it away from your own dinner table. Maryann suggests saying the veggies taste like “x food” that the child likes, and above all to model healthy vegetable eating.

This is not easy for me. The idea that vegetables are work has been my mindset for years. Even though I naturally do LIKE some vegetables, I think of them as “not really food”.  Ridiculous. Since having Cade and Zane my vegetable intake has increased and I am slowly, painstakingly changing the way I view them. From zucchini noodles to eggplant (which I really, really like) to the typical steamed side of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, veggies are making a regular appearance at the dinner table-and throughout the day. So far it seems to be working. We talk about vegetables in the same manner that we talk about icecream. Tonight Cade requested more carrots to eat during TV time. I really think the fact that I eat veggies around them all the time is the biggest influence on both boys’ veggie eating habits. And we don’t have dessert at the house, although we do go out for icecream on occasion. There are no cookies, no cakes or pies or candy…pretty lame, I know, but the boys seem to be thriving just fine.

So this No No is a big one, folks, and it’s for adults as well as children. There is nothing wrong with enjoying food, including dessert, and it should be completely guilt free (unless you’ve swiped the last piece of pie from your sister, or something, SHAME ON YOU). Vegetables are food, too, and they can taste good. Toddlers may never be vociferous vegetable eaters-and that’s ok-but don’t turn them into vegetable haters.

Fooooood Pushing, Yum

This point. Oh how I internally struggle with this, “No No” on the list. Don’t say things to your child like, “You didn’t eat enough, take a few more bites.” Or “You need to finish what I gave you.” Or ANYTHING along these lines.

This is so tough, y’all, because toddlers are WEIRD. They will devour two week old bread crumbs from under the couch one day in their quest to end their apparently insatiable appetite-and the next day they’ll have three bites of dinner and want down from the table. And we parents are RESPONSIBLE for these little idiot creatures, they need to eat and some days seem too stupid to figure it out! The struggle is real. Both boys are cranky when they’re hungry and then they also sleep poorly, I made it my mission early on to simply stuff food into Cade any time he looked even a bit irritable. He slept GREAT! And then when he became verbal he started asking for food every time he got upset. Womp, womp. I just created an emotional eating monster. Booger. So it has been a work in progress to correct this-and now he usually demands hugs instead of food (which is actually more aggravating for me because I am not a touchy feely person but whatever, I’d rather hugs then emotional eating). But, still, on those days he barely eats…

Now, I’ve gotten a lot better about this behavior because of my experience with Cade, so Zane hasn’t been fed every time he gets upset, but there are still days where I worry because I don’t think he’s eaten enough at the table. I’ve never actually said, “You haven’t eaten enough.” But I have absolutely pleaded and cajoled and reasoned with my sons to eat MORE. And this is bad, precisely because it teaches them that external factors (like me, or a clean plate) are better judges of satiety than internal hunger cues. What I love about Maryann’s post is she offers a “hint” for this No No, and the hint is that toddlers need to make mistakes. They NEED to go hungry, you guys, even though it goes against every parenting instinct and emotion, they need to learn to monitor their hunger cues and the only way they can do that is to, you guessed it, go hungry. This is a really, really important “No no” and she provides a link to a study that illustrates the connection between food pushing (it doesn’t call it that, though) and childhood obesity.

So I’ve been good about this lately, and I’ve found a compromise so to speak that makes me feel like I’m not being a neglectful parent while not encouraging the boys to eat more-I ask if their bellies are full. And if Cade says yes (or Zane signs “All done”) then that’s it. Cade has gotten really good at this. He’ll eat half his oatmeal one day and say, “My belly full, mommy.” and get down and play. And he doesn’t whine about food until snack time. Other days he’ll clear his bowl no problem before saying he’s “all full up”. Zane, however, will sign “all done” just to get out of his chair and pest me to be in my lap to keep eating. It’s a work in progress…