Training Eaters

When I talk about quinoa, or SmartyBars, or meals that I cook at home I am often asked, “…and your kids eat like this?”

My short answer is ‘yes’. But, what I am always sure to help them understand is this: I’ve trained them to eat ‘this way’.

The dictionary defines training as, “bringing a person to an agreed standard of proficiency by practice and instruction; activity leading to skilled behavior.’ Yes, my goal is to get my kids to eat well, but my larger goal is this: equipping my children with the skills they’ll need make healthy choices when they leave my home someday (or when they’re at a birthday party, or a friend’s house, etc.).

With this in mind, it is a day in, day out exercise in healthy choices that has made my children lovers of vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, nuts, fish. I buy what I want them to eat; I cook most of what they take in so that I can control the salt and the sugar content (so that they know what the real taste of food is); and, most importantly, I don’t offer any other options when it’s meal time. It’s been this way since before they could feed themselves.

Training, by nature, takes time. It takes dedication, commitment, and a understanding your goal. Look at Walmart, for example. Last year Walmart announced that it was working on a 5 year plan to reduce sodium and added sugars in it’s packaged foods. Why so long? Because it takes people time to get used to new tastes; taste palates need to be retrained. The same thing applies in our families.

Every taste of food we offer our children (especially those that predominate our diets) plays into their training. (This is where SmartyBars came from, actually: a desire to control the taste palate of my little guy so that he wasn’t ‘trained’ to need the added sweeteners and flavors.) Additionally, let’s not forget how what we – their trainers – eat also plays a huge role. When it gets right down to it, our children aren’t just listening – they are watching. They are watching what we eat, how we eat, when we eat… and all of that plays right into the eaters we are training them to be.

Thanks for being here.

Rebel on, -e.