Despite our best efforts (or, pretty good efforts) The Who ended up equating “dessert” with the end of the meal, after he has eaten the rest of his food. Although at home, we don’t insist on eating a certain amount of certain things before eating other things and we regularly allow a dessert-type food to be served along with a meal, we do discuss making sure to leave room in your belly for protein and food that helps you grow.

Oh, nothing. Just a little filet mignon with truffle butter in NYC while wearing a necktie.

Oh, nothing. Just a little filet mignon with truffle butter in NYC while wearing a necktie.

Last year, when he began Pre-K, he somehow learned, “Eat your healthiest first.” I’m sure he doesn’t always do that, though, and I can’t say that I really mind. (His lunch today was a peanut-butter and honey sandwich, a handful of Honey Nut Cheerios, an organic fruit leather, a bunch of fresh strawberries, and one marshmallow. I’d bet cash money that some of those strawberries come home, but there’s no chance the marshmallow does.)

Fruit Kabab

Fruit Kabab

Here at the coffee shop where I am planted, doing some work, a mom and her preschooler are having lunch. “Do you want chips? Then you need to have a bite of your peanut butter and jelly. No dessert if you don’t eat lunch.” The kid pretty much ate nothing, aside from nearly a full cup of what looked like Pepsi. (In fairness, it could have been iced tea, but I think I saw carbonation.)

The Voodoo Donut

The Voodoo Donut

I’m not writing this to criticize that mother. I just know that the notion of eating one type of food as a means to another type of food is problematic and although we try really hard not to do that, I still often fall into the trap of wanting to make sure he eats”good” food before, like, cake. (Speaking of which, labeling foods “good” and “bad” is problematic, too. We don’t use that language with him, though.)



It was easier to maintain this laissez-faire attitude toward food when he was younger and his exposure to non-nutritive foods was limited. Did it matter, when he was two, if he chose an organic, whole grain cereal bar vs. an organic, low-sugar cookie? Not really. But the choices are more complex now. Grilled chicken vs. artificially colored pink frosted cake. Seared steak vs. Cheetos.

Baby's First Pomegranate

Baby’s First Pomegranate

I don’t know how to create a healthy relationship with food. I didn’t and don’t have one and although there seems to be a lot of information floating around right now, I’m not sure anyone really knows for sure.

5 thoughts on “Nom.

  1. Hmmmm..what.a.predictament …it’s been my experience w 2 kids n 4 grandkids..that try as we might kids eat what they want. U n m have given him.a good foundation in making good choices ..u r patient n’t worry.b4 u can turn around x’2 ur precious Who will be.6.foot n eating everything not nailed down.

  2. Why is the notion of eating one type of food as a means to another problematic? Not looking for an argument, just never thought too much about it. Oh, and i’m sorry for using that logic on the who last night….wouldn’t have if i’d known it was a thing.

    • It’s problematic because it sends the message that certain types of food are better or more desirable than others. And it sends that message of, “if my parent doesn’t want me to eat this, I want it more.” Ultimately, I think any kind of a value judgment on food is a mind-fu*k. It’s one thing to say, “this food gives you energy and this one does not,” and then leave it at that. But another to say, “you have to eat this one to get to that one.” That said, I am still often tempted to offer that ultimatum because, as his parent, I feel and unrelenting pull toward fortifying his body with nutritious foods. Still, I have found that, while he loves sweets, he is not obsessive over them and seems to move easily from food to food, craving different things at different times. A month ago, it was all the cheese curls he could eat. So I just kept buying them and didn’t limit him. Sometimes it’s raspberries. Sometimes it’s candy. Often, it’s bacon! But he doesn’t seem to fixate much on any one thing. Maybe it is just his personality, but maybe it’s because we don’t assign qualities to his food. I don’t know.

  3. The two most important things are to educate him and set a good example. I know I did the laissez-faire thing just fine (maybe too well!), but I don’t remember doing much conscious educating, and I wish I had.

  4. We often talk about a difference between a snack and a treat. We tell Yuki that snack has to be something that gives her energy so she can keep going and to get crazy. And treats are something you get to have that is delicious, but is not necessarily healthy. And we switch out the kinds of desserts she gets–like, we might get drum sticks once in a while, but have Popsicles more often. And if she has a big dessert after lunch, then she just has fruit or something after dinner. That sort of thing. It seems to stick.

    It’s a tough one though.

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