Friday, 2 August 2013

Why do parents feel guilty for keeping their children healthy?

         It is a shame that many parents actually feel bad for giving their child a healthy diet!

I must admit, I used to feel a pang of guilt at times for the fact that I deprived my daughter of some foods when she was weening. I have tried to be as good as I can when feeding her, making sure that she gets the best healthy start to her life. She was not allowed to have cake or chocolate until her first birthday (In fact her first bit of cake was her birthday cake!) and after that, cake and chocolate is limited to once a week or a little more if a special occasion.

I am the same with juice. She drinks water in the week and then has juice on weekends or on special occasions. I have always just felt that it was better for her to enjoy more healthier treats instead. I have reluctantly  started giving her crisps, but they do tend to be the children's crisps found in the baby aisle at the supermarket. Her favourite ones are the fruit crisps!!

When chatting to another Mum today, she had done similar things with her two children. When talking about it, she described herself as "such a bad Mum", and I was actually taken aback that she should feel this way. I guess a lot of these feelings come from society. We are a nation of take away eaters and we all love a good cake, right? There is nothing wrong with eating these foods now and again, and why shouldn't we teach our children the same thing. But, for many people, eating in fast food places with their children is a quick and often cheap alternative to cooking a meal at home. (Some parents take their children to these places for social interaction too, at times.)

The thing is, our children begin to understand that their friends are going to these places to eat, and by the age of 3, are increasingly aware that those foods do taste really good! The way that I prefer is to explain that some foods are for treats when she has been good and others are foods we need to eat to keep strong and healthy. By not banning foods like chips, pizza, burgers etc totally, I am ensuring that she doesn't crave these foods badly as she gets older. I worked with a child many years ago who was not allowed any form of food which could be seen as junk. In fact, the mother used to supply her child's meals every day at the nursery for them to have.

This was all fine whilst the child was a baby, but as they grew and became aware of what their friends were eating, it began to make them upset that they couldn't eat the same. The child was not allowed to join in cooking activities if it meant making biscuits or cakes, meaning that they just craved them more and more.

It is hard to keep a happy medium, especially when your child is screaming for some chocolate. But, I have found that by not having these temptations in the house in sight, and offering them as a special treat, I have managed to stick to my guns. If you give in when they are demanding these foods, they will start to demand them more and more.

We shouldn't feel that we are depriving our child if we are trying to keep them healthy. We are doing the best for our children in the long run and we must celebrate the fact we are doing our utmost to give them the best start in be healthy and be proud!!

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