I read your wonderful newsletter in which you have a lot of knowledge about healthy food choices. Our 3 year old, who has access to healthy food at her own will at anytime, has become drawn to eating the base ingredients for cooking in our home. If we are baking, she will be into the sugar or flour until I put it away. I have had to move the salt to an unaccessible shelf, as she will climb to get it off the counter. Previously I had believed children would be drawn to eat the healthy things their bodies needed, but I don't see how she could need so much salt or sugar. Do you have any ideas of what might be the cause of this behavior? Thanks.
Children are drawn to eat the healthy things their bodies need only as long as what is available is real and healthy food. They get addicted to sugar, salt and wheat just like we do. Most children don’t have the capacity to resist edible unhealthy temptations and cannot see a reason to do so. However, eating the ingredients while you bake is not more harmful than eating the final product you bake. So, if you feel that baking goods are healthy, you may as well let her munch on the ingredients in moderation. If you think these ingredients are not healthy, why use them in the first place?
Before I continue, I want you to know that although I have accumulated knowledge about children’s health and food over the years; it is not my expertise. I highly recommend that you keep reading about food as it related to behavior and health and don’t settle for what you know so far.
Bread, pasta and cookies do not grow on trees. I call them fake edibles, not foods.
If you wish to include these treats in moderation, maybe you can make sure your daughter eats plenty of healthy real food before you bake, so she is not as hungry and would, perhaps, eat less of these ingredients. Even better, just mix them in and put away as you do with the salt. You are the leader and she is looking for your guidance. Freedom does not mean license. Don’t let her eat what is not healthy; she trusts you and looks for your guidance. If you want to nurture her freedom to choose the foods she eats, then the obvious answer is not to have these ingredients in your home.
My personal conclusion at this time (and I keep learning and changing) is that if you can’t eat it as it is, it is not food for humans. We don’t eat a raw wheat. Making something edible out of it deceives your mouth and your mind but not your body. So, at this time I tend to recommend for children a hunters and gatherers locally based diet with minimal or no heating or freezing. You may want to explore books on the primal diet, paleolithic diet (hunters and gatherers) etc. There are hundreds of recipes for food and treats made of only whole, real, unaltered ingredients (no flower, no sugar or salt.) Children want to be well. When they know that parents are on their side, they seek parental guidance and care for themselves in the way we model.
Warmly, Naomi Alodrt www.AuthenticParent.com