Food For Thought: what I want for Olivia’s relationship with food

by Nicole on April 8, 2014

It’s so interesting to open up my Instagram feed and see people who eat paleo, vegan, veggie, carb filled, chocolate lovers, etc. I follow basically every type of eater out there.

In my house we eat all foods. We don’t discriminate, but on a day to day I don’t have a label for how I eat. I DO eat meat, chicken, fish, bacon, eggs, etc but the majority of my diet is veggies. I also eat grains, cheese, chocolate and everything else.

If you read my blog regularly you know my daily eats are healthy, but I do indulge and I don’t feel bad about it. I LOVE food. I LOVE cooking and baking. I hope that I pass this on to Olivia and my other children.

When I see people who label themselves “paleo” or “vegan” they are feeding their kids that way  I wonder if it will affect them. Now let me be clear I AM NOT JUDGING. I think about the way WE eat and how it will affect Olivia too. I think about if/when I don’t eat a grain at dinner or leave behind a piece of bread, how I will explain that to her. I’m still figuring all this out. (I am just giving examples of situations that could arise. To be clear, I eat both bread and rice, but don’t eat both of those things ALL the time.)

I had a great Instagram exchange with Laura from our full plate about how she explains how they eat (paleo) to her kids. I really like the way she explains it to her boys. Makes a lot of sense and is very in line with how I feel.  (I screen shotted it below.)



I have been thinking a lot about how I grew up and about my relationship with food…and what it will mean for Liv. Truth is, I won’t really know how it will affect her until years and years down the road.


What I know I want for her and her relationship with food and herself:

I want her to love and respect herself. We will not ever be using “fat talk” in our house.
I want her to see food as fuel AND pleasure. Food should be enjoyed. I want her to know that healthy doesn’t mean boring or tasteless.
I want her to know that we should be eating mostly as nature intended us to eat. That means a diet rich in food that grows from the ground. (and a huge limit on packaged/processed food.)
I want her to know that I try my hardest to make responsible food decisions and feed our family in the best way I possibly can.
I want her to learn what it means to eat to feel your best, whether that means whole grains, gluten free, dairy free, or a little bit of everything, etc.
I want her to honor her body and eat when she’s hungry and stop when she’s full.

I (and Danny too!) will lead by example, showing her we enjoying eating nutritious food AND enjoy our treats too.

I don’t want her to feel guilty for eating a particular food. Eat because you are enjoying it and stop when you’re not.
I don’t want her to judge others who don’t understand why we eat the way we do.
I also don’t want her to be judged for having what may seen as “different” lunches and snacks. (This I know I can’t really control, but I hope as more people get into healthy eating, it won’t be an issue.)

I plan on educating her and teaching her all about the foods we eat and why we eat them. I never want her to judge anyone who isn’t as lucky to eat and buy food the way we do, and I hope she’s not judged on the other end.

On the other hand, I don’t want to stress out/stress her out or make her feel guiltywhen she comes in contact and inevitably eats packaged (crappy) snacks/food.

I don’t want her to feel restricted by me OR by herself. Choosing a way of eating is not a reason to restrict yourself. Like I said in my house we eat everything, but we just eat 85% of the time what makes us feel really good.

I’ve been thinking so much about what I want for Olivia. Food is so different today than when I grew up in so many aspects. I just want to make sure she knows why we do what we do and that’s how it goes in our house. Overall my wish is for her just to grow up happy and healthy, living a life where she feels good in her skin and not like she has to conform to one way or another.

I know life will be filled with birthday parties, school events, holidays, sleepovers and things I can’t control, which is why we will talk about healthy eating and offer good food in our house. I can’t control what goes on outside my house, so as long as the conversation is there…that’s okay with me.


I realize all this is coming from someone who has only been a mom for almost 18 months. I’d love to hear other points of view from anyone who wants to share!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany @ Barr & Table April 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I love reading your thoughts on this. Food IS so different than when we were growing up and I think it’s mostly for the better. I think it’s so important to teach your kids what you strongly believe but also remember that they are kids. No one wants to say no to birthday cake at a party, right? :)


lindsay April 9, 2014 at 9:50 pm

i love laura! and you! and your mothering tips. food, it’s love. we share it together. and we enjoy it. We nourish. that’s what you project to Olivia. I can tell already. xxoo


Lindsay April 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm

While we are vegan and are raising E that way as well we are more interested/invested in cultivating healthy eating habits. If she chooses not to eat vegan outside of our home that is her decision and we will support that however in our house we only stock vegan foods.

Based on your list above of your hopes for Olivia’s relationship with food they are the same as ours for E. There will never be a finish a “you have to clean your plate” rule at our house, desserts will be enjoyed occasionally (and no she won’t have to finish her dinner first), food is not to be used or viewed as a reward, meals will be eaten together as a family and at the table because meal time is not just about eating but also about connecting with your family/friends and meals/snacks will be eaten without the TV on. Of course I’m not perfect and neither is she so there are the rare times that she eats lunch without me because I’m just not hungry so I just sit with her while she eats or she has her afternoon snack while watching Yo Gabba Gabba because it’s just been one of those days; but those are the exceptions not the “rule”.


Parita @ myinnershakti April 10, 2014 at 8:26 am

This is a great post. I don’t have kids yet but I think about things like this every now and then. I’m a vegetarian but my husband eats meat, so that’s a topic of conversation just between us! And I love the idea of not treating food as a reward. I think for us, a lot of it will be about practicing what we’re preaching and making sure we’re on the same page so that we don’t confuse our kids.

P.S. You’re doing a great job with Olivia – keep it up! And keep sharing because I’ll need something to read back on in the future! :)


char eats greens April 10, 2014 at 10:18 am

Liv is lucky to have you as a mama! I totally agree with not viewing food as a negative thing and NO no no fat talk ever in my house. I want Nia to have a healthy relationship with food and know that it’s ok to eat really healthy, but still have sweets/desserts.

Obviously our family is vegan, and I don’t think this is necessarily a limited thing for her when she goes out into the world. As long as I’m doing my job as a parent to inform her on why we eat the way we do, then I think it will be ok. Obviously I’ll worry about birthday parties and school functions, etc, but I think with the right preparation, it will be ok. But then again, I can’t plan for what will happen in the future, but i’ll do my best to make it easy on Nia!


Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli April 17, 2014 at 8:57 am

Although I’m not a mother (yet), this is such an important point to consider. It’s hard enough when we deal with making healthy choices for ourselves, but adding in a child that is exposed to things outside of the home makes the dynamic that much more colorful. I think part of the balance of healthy living is that we cannot create our circumstances – so much of what happens to us is external. Therefore, to induce guilt on ourselves or others will hardly be helpful when it comes to empowering healthy decisions. One (or four) grain based pancakes won’t kill you…but neither will a plate full of kale. So many people are all or nothing these days.


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