Welcome to Voices of Your Village episode 137! Today I am hanging out with Jennifer Anderson, you may know her as the mama behind Kids Eat in Color. Her instagram is one of my favorite follows. She gives amazing support to families on how to navigate picky eating and supporting kiddos with healthy relationships to food. She often talks about boundaries and creating a schedule around eating, as well as why we don’t use things like food as a reward and why it is really damaging to comment on a child’s weight. I love getting to learn from Jennifer, and I am so jazzed to get to share this episode with y’all today. Let’s dive in!
Jennifer Anderson is a registered dietician with a masters in public health, in addition to being a mother of two. She started Kids Eat in Color when she realized her son wasn’t eating well, so she began posting pictures of his lunches and thought, “I can’t be the only mom having trouble feeding my child.” Of course, she was right!
When we approach our children’s relationships to food, what often rears its head is the fear. The fear of our own relationships to food, our past relationships to food, and our own relationships with our bodies. There is a wealth of information out there about this, so I am extra glad that we are diving into this today with Jennifer to get to the root of raising our kiddos in relation to food.
First, Jennifer shared a little bit of background. “This is influenced by diet culture,” Jennifer said. “Then, intuitive eating has been on the scene as an antidote for people who want out of diet culture.” Intuitive eating is a method that was created to help people who want to get out of diet culture, it wasn’t created for anything beyond that.
What happens frequently is parents then apply this same intuitive eating to their children, which was never its intention. With children, we want them to eat intuitively because we want them to maintain their ability to listen to when their body is hungry or full. Remember, even from very young ages kids are experts on when they are hungry or full, it is our job to support them with that.
When kids “graze” or eat without a schedule, they will never know when they are hungry or when they are full. Whether or not your kiddo is sensitive to food triggers, when food is available without a schedule they will never eat a really good meal or eat the calories they need to thrive. That said, little kids usually eat every 2 or 3 hours because they have small stomachs. This still doesn’t mean they eat whenever they want, food is still being offered based on need.
An example eating schedule for a toddler can look like: waking up and eating breakfast, then having an eating opportunity between breakfast and lunch, then the toddler will have lunch, then most children will need an eating opportunity between lunch and dinner (that after school snack culture!), then your kiddo will have dinner. If your child can’t make it from dinner to breakfast and wakes up in the middle of the night hungry, you can create a bedtime snack eating opportunity for your kiddo. Of course, this schedule looks different for every kiddo and is based on when your kiddo sleeps during the day.
A huge question that arises is: what do I even feed my kids? Jennifer answered this question concisely with: food is food. Meaning, any food can be a “snack” food. Veggies, chicken, fruit— it is all food. Jennifer recommends including “snack food” alongside regular food so kids don’t adopt ideas such as “vegetables are only for dinner” or “fruit is only for breakfast.”
Jennifer and I tackled so much around this topic of food schedules for kiddos, how to approach picky eaters, and we dove into the questions submitted by you lovely villagers! For the full episode, check out the link above. For more Jennifer Anderson you can find her on instagram or Facebook @Kids.Eat.In.Color or at her website, kidseatincolor.com Thank you for hanging out with me, Jennifer! I appreciate you stopping by to answer our villager’s questions and share your knowledge!
Once you finish the episode, come slide into my DMs @seed.and.sew on instagram to tell me what you thought. How are you going to respond the next time your kiddo chooses to skip the lunch you offer them and then asks for a snack 10 minutes later? What is your fear around diet culture for yourself and kiddos? I want to hear all about it!
Until next time,