If you are trying to get your child to eat clean and also have a healthy relationship with food, I highly recommend the book, First Bite: How We Learn to Eat (Basic Books, 2015). Based on my own personal experience, I firmly believe children can be raised to not only eat the healthy food served to them, but to also love every bite. But that doesn’t necessarily mean doing so will be easy peasy or obstacle free either…
‘First Bite: How We Learn to Eat’ and Why Our Son Asks for Salad
But Blake also eats ice cream, cookies and pizza—and no, not the organic, gluten-free kind either. In fact at one point, long before First Bite was even published, I actually encouraged him to eat the ice cream, cookies and pizza.
Why would any mom in their right mind encourage their child to eat junk food? The simple explanation is that for a short period when he was around 7-years old or so, Blake started to show behavior that made me worry he might be taking clean eating to extremes. It was my mom who first brought to my attention her concern that Blake might be purposely limiting some of his food choices at her house. She said he seemed overly worried about making sure the ingredients she was using to make dinner were 100% clean. At first I couldn’t help but be defensive. However, after I really tuned in, it didn’t take too long before I became concerned. Always the smallest child in his class, not only could Blake not afford to limit his food choices, I couldn’t help but worry that his concern over clean eating could morph into a psychological burden if I did not quickly intervene.
Luckily, I brought in the ice cream, cookies and pizza before Blake developed a disordered eating pattern. He now eats those foods in moderation and, most importantly, he doesn’t feel guilty about doing so. But as Wilson points out in First Bite, environment plays a huge role in shaping our relationship with food. In the book, Wilson examines the consequences of what happens when we become “disconnected from internal signals about when, what, and how much to eat.” As a surgeon who sub-specializes in bariatric surgery, my husband sees the devastating and life-destroying complications of this aftermath on a daily basis. It is not good.
But the point to all of this is that as parents we have tremendous influence over our children’s food preferences as well as their relationship with food. I know I am biased here, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this role. And if you have an older child, don’t panic, there is still hope! There is even hope for adults. In fact, author Bee Wilson shares her own personal struggles with her relationship to food and makes it clear that we all have the power to change. We can change both our eating habits and our relationship to food, regardless of how old we are.
First Bite has such an important message. And in my opinion, is a must-read for parents as well as anyone else who eats.
A BIG Thank You to my girlfriends Carla Canedo Cartier, Courtney Klahre Scianandre, Staci Price, Kimberley Dillon Stauder, Kim Smith-Legienza, Cherie Fromson for letting their beautiful children participate in the photo shoot! And to my talented mom, Gail Ingram who did the food styling, props, etc. And of course to our amazingly patient photographer, John Chutter! XOXO
P.S. Check Out Some of Our Son’s Favorite Foods…
If you are trying to introduce clean eating to your child, check out some of these kid-approved Clean Cuisine recipes.