As Mothers and Mothers-to-be (and Fathers and Fathers-to-be), we are constantly overthinking.
Recently, a friend asked me if coconut milk was bad for her child because she had read on the internet that there may be some properties associated with the fruit and packaging that are harmful.
First of all, coconut milk is not bad for you or your children. It comes from coconuts. Enough said. Maybe try to find a BPA-free can, maybe try not to have it everyday, but don’t STRESS about it. If your kids like it in a smoothie, it’s better than pop. They probably won’t want it in a month.
This conversation led to us agree that the internet is the best and the worst thing that has happened to us, because we have so much information at our fingertips…but it can be way too much, and very hard to process what is legitimate and what is malarkey.
Here is my philosophy on nutrition, especially when it comes to our children (and unborn children):
DON’T OVER THINK IT.
Are your children getting all the vitamins and minerals they need? Are they drinking enough milk? Should they be drinking milk at all? Are nitrates going to eat away their insides? Am I killing them slowly with chicken nuggets and milkshakes? Are they going to turn inside out? STOP. Don’t over think it.
LOOK AT YOUR CHILDREN’S DIET IN AN ENTIRE WEEK
Not a day. Are they eating some vegetables on most days? Do they have fruit sometimes? If they ate a hot dog on Saturday and you panicked and gave them donuts before swimming lessons because you forgot your healthy snack at home, CALM DOWN and don’t over think it. They will be ok, trust me.
That being said, I am a Nutritionist. I don’t give my children the traditional treats of cookies and cakes very often. We do not have pop in our house and I don’t ever buy hot dogs. When I do give my kids treats, we usually bake them together from scratch, and we use alternative flours, natural sugars like honey and maple syrup and the other ingredients are not usually found in a regular chocolate chip cookie…but it IS a cookie. And it tastes good, so my kids could care less.
Try not to look everything up on the internet. There is nothing wrong with being educated but there are always going to be two sides…just think about eggs. They’re good for you, they’re bad for you, they’re good for you, they’re bad for you…what do YOU think? They’re EGGS. (P.S. They’re good for you.)
Of course, none of this applies if your child has an allergy, severe deficiency or intolerance…you know what works best for your family. I’m just trying to alleviate some Mommy-guilt and stress from your life.
My stress-free approach is this: our family lives by the 80/20 rule. I’m sure you’ve heard of this before-eat healthfully 80% of the time, and you can live a little 20% of the time. The ratio wavers, but we try to stick to this principle. This goes for kids too! You’re serving healthy food at home, you pack healthy lunches and always have something on hand if they get hungry so you don’t have to resort to fast food. You’re doing awesome!
You can’t control everything and you shouldn’t have to! Let your kid be a kid. Sugar is part of the ride. Bad food is part of it too. There will always be a friend of theirs that gets a “better” lunch and your child…yes, YOUR child, the one that “really likes” broccoli and thinks ice cream is “gross” will be asking for cookies and cakes in their lunch before you know it.
You are not stunting their growth, you are not ruining their eating habits for life. In fact, teaching them to make healthy choices is our job too. They need to know what is good, what is bad, and how to balance the two. Children are resilient and amazing little creatures that keep growing no matter what we feed them, so relax and know you’re doing the best you can-you love your kids more than anyone else and you’re going to do what is best for them.
Please do not use this as an excuse to give your kids CRAP for dinner all the time, but letting your children have treats keep things fun and easy. Besides, whatever “treats” are is up to you! It’s a pretty big deal to have hot chocolate in our house, and they’re still getting the good stuff from milk (even if I use a milk alternative half the time)!
Children have been growing on bad food, barely any food, and absolute swill for centuries. I remember eating boxed mac and cheese with hot dogs, white rice and canned soups growing up and I’m still alive and I can make good choices. I have not been ruined and I have fond memories of food and my Mom cooking dinner for our family. Some of my favourite memories are of my brother and I making cookies with my Mom in the kitchen, licking the beaters and getting a bellyache. The thought of never giving my children that experience (ok, maybe not the bellyache), to save them from the sugar, is just selfish and I would never take that away from them. I bake healthy stuff with them, but sometimes there needs to be birthday cake!
But enough of my ranting. Stop feeling guilty! Don’t stress, it’s not worth it. Eat together as a family. Be a good example. Don’t over think it. You’re doing an awesome job.
Seanna Thomas is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist living in Toronto. She works as a personal consultant and freelance writer while appearing regularly on Rogers Daytime. She is a regular contributor to Triathlon Magazine Canada and the Yummy Mummy Club as well as multiple other publications. Seanna is a mother to three children and her husband works as a medic in the Canadian military. Although Seanna is educated in all aspects of nutrition, she focuses on realistic clean eating with a spotlight on healthy family habits. She is known online as the Nutritionnaire and writes a weekly blog. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In her downtime, she enjoys being outdoors with her family and relaxing at home with her husband and a well-deserved glass of wine.