living with children in peace, joy and freedom

Posts tagged ‘food’

Food, glorious food; our journey from nightmare to nourishment

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Caramel milkshakes made with raw milk and lots of Vitamin Yum.

I love food and I love caring for my body with the best food that I can provide. Until I had children, I thought that I had no real issues around food. It wasn’t a big deal for me. Having children changed all that. Not straight away, of course, but over a couple of years I gradually felt myself descending into a nightmare of anxiety and conflict that I had never experienced before.

Like many parents, I wanted to make sure that my children ate a healthy diet. I had clear beliefs about what was healthy for children and what was not. I believed deeply that it was my responsibility to provide healthy food and restrict access to unhealthy food. I read books about nutrition and tried all sorts of new recipes. I read about all the foods that should be avoided and the list just kept getting longer and longer. I was keenly aware of the dangers of additives, preservatives, sugar, processed fats and highly refined foods. I talked to my friends about food and keenly watched what they were feeding their children. The more I worried about my children’s diet the more stressed I became. It grew as an issue for me as my children grew.

Apparently some parents feed their children with minimal stress and conflict. That was not my experience. Perhaps it would have been different if we lived on a farm or an island and my children weren’t exposed to the vast offerings of a modern supermarket. But it wasn’t like that for us. We live in suburbia. When my first child was very little it was not difficult to limit the foods that he was exposed to. If certain foods were not given to him then he did not miss them. As he got older his environment expanded. He noticed the food that people around him ate. He came to the supermarket and the local shops with me. He went to preschool, visited friend’s houses and went to birthday parties. He gradually discovered what was available out there. He also developed his own desire to explore, experiment with new foods and to work out what he liked.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how excited and determined children can be about exploring the world of food or how strongly they can be attracted to sugar and processed food. As my child grew into his own tastes and desires I experienced a dramatic surge of stress and conflict in my life. The most stressful issue for me was how much sugar he wanted, although I also worried about other “unhealthy” foods too. My anxieties built up even more momentum when I had two children to feed. Trips to the supermarket were very tense. My children asked for me to buy them lollies, ice-creams and chips. This wasn’t mild interest on their part. They were passionate about their exploration of food and their desire to eat all sorts of foods that I didn’t want them to eat. (more…)

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I grow what I choose to give attention to

WHAT YOU RESIST WILL PERSIST

 

What you resist will persist. This has been such an important lesson for me to learn. It is so easy to resist things about our children, to not accept them as they are. How many times have I wanted to change something about my child? Somehow the problems came to dominate my thinking.

Unfortunately, focusing on what I wished would change did not seem to help. This is because you grow what you give attention to. What shows up in our lives is a direct reflection of our inner thoughts and emotions. If we devote our minds to what we don’t want we end up noticing it everywhere. We go through life collecting evidence to back up what we believe. If we believe that there is something wrong that is what we will see. We block out the evidence that supports a more positive view. We simply don’t see it.

This means that if we resist something about our children it will persist. We give it the energy of our attention and we unintentionally grow it rather than getting it to go away. Throwing all our energy into fixing something about our child may end up making it worse.

To reverse this process I practice the simple exercise of choosing to focus on the opposite of what I don’t want. I ignore the problem and collect the evidence for the other side; for what is going well and is acceptable. (more…)

What about setting limits?

Of all the issues that come up for parents one of the most difficult and confusing is the one of when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.” And yet it’s the issue that comes up most often. No wonder so many parents are stressed.

The reason it comes up so often is that children have wants – and lots of them. They want to explore their world, to stay at the park, to have ice cream, to watch that movie on TV and for you to buy them the latest toy or game. It can go on and on. Working out what to say in response to all that wanting can be difficult. It is an ongoing challenge for me to speak these simple words with clarity, honesty and integrity. I am still experimenting and learning every day and I want to share what I have discovered so far.

All this wanting only becomes a problem if a child does not get what they want. Saying “Yes” to my child is wonderful if it is done with honesty and integrity. That means that the thinking behind my “Yes” is important to me. I don’t want to play at saying Yes” when I secretly feel an inner “No”. I call this “giving in.” I might do it in order to appear nice or to get my child to go away or because I have been worn down into a state of submission. “Giving in” does not feel good. This is because it is dishonest. I can tell if I have been dishonest because I end up feeling resentful and blaming my child for being “demanding”, or “making me” do something. If I persist with this habit it will crush my spirit and confuse and distress my child.

On the other hand, helping my child with an honest “Yes” brings me great joy. I don’t believe that giving my children what they want will bring them lasting happiness, but it feels good. I am happy for my children to experience abundance in their lives and also to experience the natural consequences of their choices. I am available to help them in their learning process as they work out how they want to live their lives. (more…)

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