One thing I have learned over the many years as a parent, informed by the previous decade(ish) as nutrition researcher and professor, is that knowing WHAT I needed to feed my kids to supports and promote their health was not enough. To do this well, in the face of conflicting time demands, varying taste preferences, and competing interests, I need a set of goals for WHY and some clear strategies for HOW.
As a first-time parent - aka: when I had a lot more free time – I read a lot of parenting books. Understanding what makes a healthy parent and a healthy kid kind of runs in my family, so it’s not surprising that I wanted to make informed decisions about the type of parent I was going to be. I began thinking about what kind of person I wanted my kids to be – happy, compassionate, peaceful, hardworking, empathetic.
But it recently dawned on me that I had, without realizing it, not done the same long-term goal setting for my kids specifically around the type of eater I wanted them to become. I needed to create a set of guiding principles for WHY I would make certain decisions about what and how my kids (and family) ate, and how we engaged in the act of buying, preparing, and eating food. Then, having identified those WHYs, I also came up with a long list of strategies for HOW to get there.
I’m not suggesting that these should be everyone’s WHYs - even our co-founders may disagree on what's most important to teach about how to eat. But for me, having identified the goals and strategies have helped reduce stress around meal times, eliminate my maternal guilt over what (and how) my kids are eating, and provided guardrails to keep us all on track.
In a next series of posts I’ll unpack each of these goals and provide some of the strategies that we use to achieve them. For now, a teaser of our long-term food goals:
- Be willing to taste new foods.
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Listen to their internal signals of hunger and satiety.
- Take part in meal planning and food preparation.
- Know where their food comes from.