Image: iStock. By Carrie Saum.
Tonight, my 2.5-year-old is insisted on eating organic coconut oil and Kerrygold butter for dinner. Just fat. Straight. No bread, no noodles, no potatoes to soften the fat blow. I gagged a little in my mouth as handed him a chunk of butter and spooned out another glob of coconut oil.
Listen, this isn’t my idea of a well-balanced dinner, or even an appetising dinner. What person over the age of five wants to eat butter as a meal? But here’s The Thing: I trust my son to know his body at this point. (Watch: Parents reveal their secret favourite child. Post continues after video.)
In his 31 months on this planet, my son has been exposed to a wide variety of foods. He eats veggies and beans and meats and fruits and whole grains. He has been overcoming severe food allergies and aversions for most of his life. He boycotted ALL food except my pumped breast milk for three months. So, if he tells me he wants a stick of butter for dinner, I hand it over to him and TRUST HIM. I trust that his body needs the fat.
I trust that his brain, which is comprised of 60% fat just like mine, needs fuel to make the next developmental leap. And I trust him when he tells me what his body needs because that is the most important thing I can do as a parent: believe him. And here’s an unintended consequence of believing him: I believe myself, too.
For those of you who still might be clutching your proverbial nutritional pearls and decrying the notion of fat being a meal, or (gasp) healthy, I say this: Stop fat-shaming my toddler son. Fat will not make him fat. Fat does not make him unhealthy. Tomorrow, all he will want to eat are green beans and frozen blueberries and string cheese, and I’ll hand them over without another thought.
The day after, he might want frozen waffles and red meat and corn cereal. I will give them to him. Scrutinising every single thing he puts in his mouth helps nobody, and certainly doesn’t help him form a healthy relationship with food.