I’m a bit of a control-freak in some things, so raising kids has been a lesson in flexibility and humility. I must admit I didn’t always get it right. I consciously used to work at not laying down my rules when we did crafts together so that it could be a creative, bonding process for them and not an extension of school. That wasn’t easy for me. But that isn’t a patch on being health conscious and watching them as young adults manage their own diets.
* They’ve seen the power of diet completely eradicate depression in our own home …
* They see the influence pre-and-post gluten ingestion on a gluten sensitive child (huge!) …
But pop culture and convenience are drivers that often outweigh that knowledge.
I try to keep in mind that there is a small picture and a big picture. The small picture is what I’m seeing now, a carbon copy of the SAD (Standard American Diet) that I so dislike. The bigger picture is that I trust it’s a passing phase and they’ll draw themselves back to a place where they nurture their bodies properly again. But I admit freely that it is beyond me to completely let it go. Here’s a conversation I just had with one of my teach-mommy-flexibility-children:
Me: “My lovie, now that classes are starting tomorrow again, maybe you should be paying more attention to your diet. Is there anything I can do to help you?”
Young-adult: “I’m eating healthily now.”
Me (because I’ve been a mommy for a long time and I’ve learnt more than flexibility on the way): “Since when?”
Young adult (with a guilty smile because she didn’t really think she’d sneak it past me): “Since today.”
Me: “So what does eating healthy mean? What are you going to do to make it work for you? You know sugar is an issue for you, what tips and tricks will you use to manage that?“ Aside: Please note that I didn’t lecture on what is and isn’t healthy!
Young adult: “I can eat Low Carb? And no sugar. And no dairy or gluten.” Poor girl! That’s a huge bunch of rules to live by.
Me: “That’s a whole lot of rules, and low carb is an unforgiving diet. You can’t break it easily. If you eat high fat and then eat a lot of carbs it’ll make you fat. Especially if the carbs you eat are fast food carbs.”
Young adult: “I want to eat healthily but I don’t want to diet.”
Me: “Then don’t. Don’t have a whole bunch of rules, jut do simple, sustainable tweaks. But set it up so you can live like that.”
We discussed her breakfast. I make a good breakfast for us every day with a vegetable, a protein and some healthy fat as a boost-for-the-day for us, so we agreed to stick to that. (That’s the one life-win I have, my children think breakfast cereals are a dessert you have on holiday.) She was going to do a meal replacement shake for supper, but has agreed to have supper with the family, not because it’s the best time of day to eat a meal, but because it’s the only meal of the day she’ll get that variety of vegetables and the only way she’ll eat enough protein. Lunch is in her court.
I stopped there, proud that I could be flexible and not nag more than I admittedly did (hey – that’s a big achievement for me!). I’m glad that our relationship is good enough that even though it was a nag, she was still prepared to have the conversation with me. I’m sure she knows how hard it is for me not to interfere more so I left feeling we’d both been respectful of one another. In the bigger picture, that’s the biggest win of all. It’s easier to do because I don’t believe she’ll be making these choices forever, and she has the right to test her wings. My nutri-angel wings didn’t grow until well into adulthood either. Okay, they haven’t fully grown yet, but they will … eventually!
I showed her this before posting. She reckons she’ll have her nutritional angel wings before I ever get mine 😊
Don’t let me fool you – there’s no such thing as perfect nutrition. There’s just cleverly listening to your body’s signals and rebalancing. Your needs change as you age, adjust with it intuitively.