My children sometimes ask me “Mum, why don’t we eat junk food?” “It is simple” I say, knowing well that for some people and especially those who are close it is not. For whatever reasons. “When you grew in my belly, in the time I birthed & nursed you and began your journey with food I made a choice to give you food that helped you to grow tall, run fast, build strong muscles & a wonderful imagination” It is amazing how well children absorb information when it is offered to them. Not always so with grown ups, especially those of the family variety who mean so well with their language of love and playfulness with food. It is an undefined cross-section of power, convenience, love and misunderstanding. I am not always sure of which one is more damaging – only that I know that it offends me greatly when my choices as a mother are not respected. That is to say, when my food and lifestyle choices are criticised. This mostly comes down to family history of food behaviours based on comfort and habit. It has a lot to do with opinions and mis-nformation completely disabling our right to choose health for our children. I am not a purist when it comes to my or my children’s eating habits. I consider myself a “conscious eater”. I am trying to teach my children the same approach to their food. It doesn’t always work, and I do not play preacher but I do want them to learn to consider their food and body when and how they eat. I watch them scurrying through our vegetable patch crunching on cucumbers like they just found a pot of gold. I celebrate that, I join them. I use their curious impulses to develop a sense of wonder in good food; how it is grown and why it is important to us. Now please believe me when I say that just as that is my ‘choice’ to raise them this way that I do not judge ‘others’ in doing it their way. Mothering/parenting is a tough gig and it requires immense effort, patience, endurance & stamina. And that is why when my children are taunted by relatives about being taken to McDonald’s to spite me, given fizzy Cola drinks, or are bought bags of lollies to “pig out” like kids do and should I start to feel bewildered, frustrated and a little damn angry. Or when I hear about mothers being questioned and challenged about their food choices for their children. Publicly. Condescendingly. I start to wonder how in a world where childhood obesity, diabetes, behavioural disorders and junk food addictions are rife that anyone could be so ignorant or dismissive. And it doesn’t end with food….. Why so self-righteous? Because it is my choice, my profession, my passion and belief. I live this shit. If you want your children to enjoy water don’t give them sugary fizzy drinks – water loses its appeal by comparison; if you want them to eat fresh vegetables and living fruit don’t dose them up on empty dead pre-packaged foods that are high in sugar, salt and trans fats. Entire food empires depend on this kind of flavour trickery. If you want your children to be adventurous with tastes/textures you need to teach them how and why it is important. And then you need to teach them again and again, over and over, month after month until they get it. And they will! If you are stuck in a rut with food, it is likely they will learn to be too. A child’s brain and taste receptors are being built from the time of conception and well beyond. How you imprint this physiological miracle is your choice – either way! Your journey and theirs. It does not and should not belong to other people whose opinions of health and nutrition are coming from a place of spite or control and even malevolence. There are some people who walk the purist line with food and children that may be interpreted as cruel, there are two sides of the coin. But on behalf of those of us who are making nourishing and educated choices for our children’s future well-being I would like to extend this invitation to any doubters/challengers to celebrate our effort with us; encourage and support us in our free choice to nurture healthy, strong, free range individuals. The world needs more grown ups like this, and grown ups start as little beings like our children. And healthy children become healthy adults who then create and contribute to healthier communities. Is this something we seriously have to defend? Below: Little Mr 3 took a long time to come around……and it was all worth it!