We’ve had a few posts here on Mamamia about things we should and shouldn’t say to women, men, children, pregnant people, straight people, gay people, people who are suffering from illness, people with mental or physical disabilities and so on.
And today I am writing about things we are not supposed to say to kids when it comes to food. As I said above, I’ve often thought that sometimes people were oversensitive about what others should and shouldn’t say when it comes to certain things, but after more thought, I realised that these were “ideal world” scenarios as opposed to “you will be locked up and arrested if you break these rules” situations.
Whilst I do want to discuss what we aren’t supposed to say to kids when it comes to food, I also really want to acknowledge that we, or at least I, very often do say these things. Sometimes we’re stressed. Sometimes we’re not thinking. Sometimes we’ve had no sleep the night (week, month) before and we can’t see straight. And sometimes we just make mistakes.
I really like the ideas behind all of these suggestions and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being aspirational. That said, it’s definitely a good idea to be realistic with yourself and know that at some point or another most of us have muttered some (if not all) of these things to small people, be they our own or the children of others.
1. “Finish every single mouthful on that plate or you are NOT leaving this table!”
Due to the healthy appetite I had from the moment I entered this world, my parents never said this one to me! They didn’t need to.
Luckily for me, so far, I haven’t needed to either. Again, let me say I’m not on a high horse about this and if I had kids that didn’t eat enough I probably would be pulling this out left, right and centre.
However, because my kids eat a really good breakfast and lunch, I don’t freak out at dinner when there is still half a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese left on their plate. I simply double check they’ve had enough (and don’t just want to leave the table because Peppa Pig has started), and then put the remaining food in the fridge to have cold for lunch the next day.
As you know I am not a dietician or a doctor, but I’ve heard the pros talk about this being the wrong thing to say because apparently it doesn’t allow kids to regulate their own level of fullness. It undermines their ability to judge when they have genuinely had enough. It has also been stated by some adult overeaters as the reason they have eating disorders later in life.
2. “I hate apricots/pawpaw/sultanas/steak. DISGUSTING!”
GUILTY! I do this all the time. If my husband or a friend offers me something I don’t like or even if I’m watching a cooking show on TV and I see food that I don’t like, I shout “Gross! No thanks.” Really mature, I know! It just comes out. I’m working on it though because if you think about it, if you were a kid and your Mum or Dad yelled out in horror that something was disgusting, you’re likely to believe the same before you’ve even tried it.