My Relationship with Food
Food is fuel; I eat for the function that it provides. This is what my wife tells me, at least. She says I’m like a robot or a machine when it comes to food. Only putting in what is required to sustain life. I, of course, laugh at this and tell her she’s crazy because I, too, will eat a small portion of ice cream or some other “junk” food that gives me mouth pleasure. Upon reflection, all of my friends believe this about me as well. Let me be clear, I love all the “healthy” food I eat, and at no point am I forcing myself to eat food that tastes like shit. I also happen not to eat bullshit food all the time. I believe that I have a healthy relationship with food.
A 90/10 approach to eating is reasonable. 90 percent has to come from whole foods that I have bought, prepared, and cooked. 10 percent can come from processed(junk) food. I tend not to preplan or seek out eating junk food. For instance, I will not buy it or have it in my house, but I may allow myself a small portion if it happens to be in front of me. I never feel like I am denying or punishing myself. This is just the way that I eat, and I find it very satisfying. It meets all my fitness and health goals, as well as allowing for a small cheat here or there.
My Children’s Relationship with Food
Imagine you are at a pool party or some other type of gathering where there is junk food aplenty. You see two children going back and forth, refilling their plates dozens of times. These are my children. This is the way it has been forever. Since they were three years old, they have behaved this way. Everyone knows it too and pokes at me. I just shake my head and laugh because it is what it is. My children will take the junk 95% of the time if they have the choice. They have a healthy appetite for good home-cooked food also, but there is no competition if the sweet treats are within sight.
The Approach to Food with my Children
If I don’t buy it, they can’t eat it, right? I mean, why would I intentionally feed my kids poison. It sounds hyperbolic, but that’s the way I see it. 90% of the time, packaged food is trash. It has very little nutritional value. It’s bloated with unnecessary calories while at the same time being micronutrient deficient. This is not food, my friends. This is garbage. It is like a magic trick being played on our flawed evolutionary past. It tastes amazing but is terrible for our health when eaten as the majority of our food.
I’ll use a cocaine analogy here. If almost everyone you know snorted cocaine three times a day, every day, would you? What if snorting coke was so widely accepted as the norm? Would others think your weird for not doing it regardless of the health detriments? I look at the foods we allow our kids to eat exactly the same. The long-term consequences of having a processed food diet are obvious. Look at everyone around you. Do they look or feel healthy? The majority do not.
My kids are 11 and 9. I understand that they are incapable of truly processing and making choices based upon the above ideas. I educate them about eating food for health, but also tell them that eating junk food every once in a while is fine. If the vast majority of their nutrition is on point, a serving of chips is 100% no problem. As their Father, it is my job to help them become healthy, capable adults. Allowing them to suffer malnutrition because they prefer to eat junk food over real food as their staple is unacceptable.
Eating at Home vs Eating Out
When we are at home, they don’t get junk food because it doesn’t exist. Occasionally there is ice cream, cereal, chips, or some other type of processed food. As a household standard, every meal is cooked from fresh produce and meat. Snacks are fruits, natures sugar. They have no problem eating this way because it’s the way it has always been. When we go out, I am very lenient. I cannot bring myself to deny them what everyone else is allowed to have. I feel like I would be cultivating an extreme eating disorder if I did.
My Great Dilema
How can I believe very strongly in one type of behavior, yet I allow another? This is where I am stuck. I don’t know what else to do. On the one hand, I do my best to educate them about food. I practice what I preach, I teach them what I know, and I feed them as I feed myself. I do this because I understand the long-term health implications of eating a good vs. bad diet. On the other hand, they eat so much more bullshit than I am comfortable with.
They get junk at school, when people come over, when they go over to family’s house; the list goes on. There always seems to be an exception. It’s literally impossible to keep junk food away from them on a daily basis, and it’s exhausting as well as conflicting. If it were on occasion, it wouldn’t bother me at all. However, the frequency is simply too high. I’m not sure how to do it better.
What is your family’s relationship with food? Please share your stories. We all have kids and ways in which we manage their food and health. I would love to know your strategies in this area. Thank you for reading.