I Don’t Want My Daughters to Worry about Food

Can we please all agree to make this post a non-judgmental space today? Just like most other parents I am simply trying to do the best I can, and just like most parents—I do not claim to have all the answers. And as a result of some recent non-judgmental and constructive feedback from blog readers, I’ve been doing some thinking…and my thoughts are this: I never want my daughters to have to worry about food (or anything for that matter).

People sometimes imply that allowing your children to have free rein on junk food means “letting your kid be a kid,” but in reality I think they are confusing “eating junk food” with the happy-go-lucky, carefree feeling we often see in children. And in my opinion there are many ways to achieve that bliss, which I can assure you, is not only from junk food.


But I am the first to admit it’s not easy to constantly find that fine line between standing up for what you believe in (nourishing my children with the healthiest foods on the planet!) and also not being too uptight. Whether we like it or not, there is a social aspect to junk food. I tell my husband all the time “we’ve been there done that” …therefore I don’t care if I never again chow down on a Little Debbie Snack, a box of Nerds, or a Push Up (really, I don’t). But my children have not had the same experiences as me and no matter how much they “understand” why those foods are unhealthy who can blame them for wanting to see what they are all about? They are literally surrounded by this stuff on a regular basis – just look at school lunch rooms, TV commercials, and even check-out lines at the store.

The Feedback I Couldn’t Ignore

Aside from our 100-day pledge (which ended in 2010) we have never been fully restrictive on what our girls can and can’t eat. We certainly eat almost all “real food” at home, but now that our pledge is over our children indulge in processed “treats” at birthday parties, school celebrations, friend’s houses, etc. I certainly wish they weren’t offered junk food at so many events, but this is reality and I try not to stress about it (although I have become more involved at their school in hopes of continuing to see positive changes there). We also usually offer our girls a “once a week treat,” which is pretty much the only time we eat any big sweets (other than a super dark chocolate square), but more often than not they have junk food elsewhere so others were almost always beating me to the punch when it came treat time. This means our treats together as a family didn’t happen very often—or if they did my daughters would have to decide to forgo a treat that was being offered to them by someone else. Watching them make these decisions is what started bothering me deep down.

Then it just so happens that last weekend we had the chance to buy our kids their weekly treat, and by request we headed out for donuts (which I shared with this picture on Facebook). It was on that post where an interesting discussion started.

Although I can’t always sit down and read every single comment personally anymore—I do read a lot of them and value what our readers have to say. And I certainly did not overlook the comment from Erin that said, “Actually, excessive discussion of ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food can play a large role on eating disorders.” Nor did I overlook the New York Times article that Marie shared that is entitled, “What’s Eating Our Kids? Fears About ‘Bad’ Foods.” Then (as if I didn’t already have my knickers in a twist enough) a kind reader emailed me personally and said:

“When I see your daughter questioning her food, I am encouraged by her awareness, but also concerned. I did the same thing, and my mom—who was also hyper-aware of food (and for good reason!)—encouraged this in me. I eventually become afraid of the food and restricted anything that wasn’t ‘healthy’ —until nothing was (at the same time I over-exercised, because exercise was healthy too). It all made sense—until it didn’t. I just encourage you, from the bottom of my heart, to be careful and aware and honest—but also leave some space for ‘food to be food’—that’s become my mantra.” – 100 Days of Real Food Reader

Our Outlook Going Forward

I can truthfully tell you I have never even dabbled in eating disorders, although I (unfortunately) know many friends who have. Therefore I am no stranger to the subject and it’s of course not something I would ever want my daughters to struggle with. So literally right then and there I had a discussion with my husband and we agreed to make a slight change. As soon as my daughters came home from school I told my 2nd grader, “We’ve decided that you can eat the foods you are offered (within reason) when you are not at home, and they will not count as your ‘once a week treat.’ The weekly treats we will buy or make together as a family will happen no matter what. Mommy feeds you so much good, real food at home and that’s where you eat most of the time. You are such a healthy girl who is an excellent eater and also gets plenty of exercise so eating junk food at school or with friends once or twice a week could never erase that. Now eating cupcakes everyday (or twice a day) would not be a good thing, but a couple times a week is nothing for anyone to worry about.” And you know what, in the grand scheme of things—even though my daughters have their moments of course—they both really are super good eaters. They eat a wide variety of whole foods including lots of vegetables and are also fairly willing to try new things. So I wasn’t just talking the talk with her—even with highly processed junk food often feeling like my personal nemesis, I truly believe that eating it on occasion will not erase all that goodness.

And interestingly enough, even though my daughters have honestly never verbalized a complaint about our frequency of treats before, my 8-year-old seemed to really understand what I was telling her and even acted a little happy about this change. My kindergartner is still oblivious to quite a lot and frankly doesn’t even know what day it is half the time, so I spared her this “talk” because I didn’t think she’d even notice the difference at her age. But I do think what will go even further than this change is for me to (continue to) not act like the occasional junk food they eat is the end of the world (i.e. no guilt trip) while still educating them in a casual, non-threatening manner. I have also always been super careful about never criticizing my body in front of them, and I think that is another very important part of raising daughters with a healthy image as well. Now this parenting gig is something I am figuring out as I go (just like everyone else!) so we may continue to make adjustments as we move forward…but I can say that I do feel good about our renewed direction.

So today my 8-year-old came home from school and announced, “I had 3 oreos at lunch since it was a friend’s birthday.” Then she told me, “I read the ingredients, too.” And I said with a surprise, “Oh really, what did it say?” then with a laugh she said “I don’t remember.” Sounds like we are on the right track with having a carefree, worry-free kid who is slightly more aware than the others. :)

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521 thoughts on “I Don’t Want My Daughters to Worry about Food”

  1. This blog is exactly why I love this site. You are on this journey right along with us who are trying our best to raise healthy and happy children. In a generation of excess consumption and endless choices, it’s never been more challenging to raise kids (who would have thought!). Being a working mom, I spend time planning meals and cooking most nights, but I do have to rely on the food industry’s wonderful premade food like spaghetti sauces and tortillas. And I can’t spend too much time worrying about what my kids are eating at school or what they grab off the table at the gathering space at church. I love the ideas I can get from other readers and comments, too. Keep up the great work you are doing! Also…your recipes have really helped me with the meals – most of them are so quick and easy and good!

  2. Lisa, thanks for your ongoing posts and encouragement. I don’t think I would have the patience to be as kind as you are when dealing with people’s judgements and well-intentioned criticisms about my own family. In a world where many parents are critical of MY choices to cook at home, grow a garden, eat real food and prioritize health, I find this blog to be a safe haven.

    I too have seen little girls deny themselves certain foods or criticize their bodies based on examples at home and I am diligent about sending the wrong message with my own daughter. I thought I would share how I talk about food in case it is helpful to anyone out there. When we sit down for a meal or my daughter requests something, we talk about which foods make us strong. So, we’ll say something like “candy doesn’t make us strong, that’s why we only have a little bit.” We might even go into detail about certain foods; carrots help our eyes, milk makes our bones strong, etc. Nothing is off limits, even the occasional fast food stop, but we feel good that the message is getting through about making good choices. And of course, most importantly, we try to provide the best example at home.

    We are all doing our best and I think it’s great that you’re putting yourself out there to help the rest of us as well.

  3. You are an amazing mom! We are all learning as mother’s and I really appreciate your honesty. I think you made a great decision. Let us know how you feel like it turns out!

  4. I want you to know that what your doing is amazing. Worrying about each possible thing that could go wrong is impractical and silly. You are making wonderful choices for your children, your community and planet. As long as you are giving your child a holistic view of food and the world around them they will be fine. No they will soar. I deeply wish my parents had taken even a little time to teach me and my siblings about food. I have struggled for years trying to view food differently and not just eat junk. Thank you for helping me.

  5. Thank you! This brought tears to my eyes. I have a 4 yr old daughter and a 7 year old daughter, my husband and I are extremely good eaters and I used to compete. The girls watch us workout everyday, I never say a bad thing about my body, but I am very strict with their food. I will allow a bit of ice cream once in a while out to dinner but I usually pack an organic vitamin c sucker for them. I did suffer with eating disorders that’s why I try to teach them the right way, because I never knew healthy eating growing up. It’s time for me to change before they end up like me, so thank you so much for enlightening me. I am just trying to do the best I can and give them proper nutrition but I don’t want them to be consumed on a daily basis if they are eating good or bad food.

  6. Thank you for this post! I don’t have kids and I’m not even married but i have been struggling lately with an unhealthy relationship to food. I want to be healthy and balanced but have been bordering on OCD type behavior to try to control whats going on in my body. I’ve just been questioning lately what is the best way to go about being healthy with Balance being the goal – because when I’m too restrictive it seems to give the food too much power and was sending me into binges – and I don’t think thats right or healthy. I’ve also definitely had the thoughts too of “how will I handle having kids and family?” because I’m a lot better (about food) when its just me…but I don’t want it to always be just me or for food to be as important as I sometimes make it. I think you came up with a great solution that will end up blessing your daughters to have freedom AND a healthy appetite. Awesome!

  7. I love this post so much. It is really timely for us. We have a 3 1/2 year old and have just shifted our ways into being more relaxed about junk. Until our daughter was 2 1/2 or 3 we gave her little or no sugary junk at home and nearly fully restricted what she had outside of the house (barring special occasions) She was never the only one in the room who was denied a treat and most often people were very supportive. But….I started to notice that she was associating a visit to the neighbours with junk food…like a few days after a visit to a neighbours, she would ask them if she could come and watch tv and have cookies and hot chocolate. She started doing this often. I felt she was reacting to our denying her junk so we loosened up at home. I would bake the occasional treat, bought good organic raisins, some healthy low sugar animal cookies….and now I feel she is crazy for it! (The same thing has happened with tv!!! WE watched none, loosened up and sometimes I think she would stay home and watch all day. (
    So my very long winded question here is about BALANCE. I feel like I have tried to loosen up and create balance but now I feel like I am restricting even more frequently. Its like the floodgates have been opened. She wants treats so bad she even sneaked something and hid under the table to eat it!!!! Sometime when she is tired and cranky she cries for ice cream!!! What am I doing wrong? Do all children have this problem with regulation? I dont feel its right to give in and let her eat herself silly?? I am the best intentioned mama and only want the best for my baby/big girl. I would love your feedback.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Kimberly. I know it can be challenging but by setting reasonable limits, you will establish healthy habits even if it takes a bit of trial and error. You will find your balance and know when it feels right. You can try replacing ice cream with a healthier snack option like yogurt and not feel badly about its frequency. Lisa has a yummy recipe for a berry sauce to mix in with a plain yogurt that is a big hit with kids: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/05/03/recipe-berry-sauce/. Also here is a more complete snack list that you might find helpful when looking for healthy replacements: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/07/31/85-snacks-for-kids-and-adults/. I have found that having cut up fruits available most of the time can really curtail a child’s sweet cravings. But, it does take a bit of time to establish habits. Best of luck. ~Amy

  8. Thank you for this post. It is not easy to put your choices for yourself and your family under a microscope for the inevitable public scrutiny. It’s kind of like the single person with no children passing judgment on how parents raise their kids – it’s so easy to be the perfect parent until you actually ARE a parent. :D

    We made the switch to “real” food back in 2010. My son, who was 7 at the time, was sick all the time with chronic respiratory infections, allergies and asthma. He had a very limited palate, which generally centered around chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, goldfish crackers and broccoli. I indulged his pickiness because it was easy – that was my failing as a mom.

    I started working with a coach on several area of my own life, one of which was my unhealthy lifestyle – horrible food habits, binge/purge cycles, too much alcohol, no real exercise at all. Within a month I was eating clean, on nutritional supplements, exercising and taking martial arts classes and weaning off my 5 bottle of wine per week habit. I felt reborn. I decided that my son deserved that as well. It was a struggle in the beginning, but he quickly understood that either he ate what was in front of him or he could wait until the next meal (he never did skip a meal by the way).

    Now, 3 years later, my 10 year old has the most expansive palate of any child I have ever met – he loves his healthy habits and is proud of them. We allow ourselves a “free day” each week so we can eat whatever we want. He categorizes food into free day food and regular food. He loves his free day, but doesn’t obsess over it. He hasn’t had to go to the doctor in over 3 years for anything other than a sports physical. Eating healthy, real food has been a miracle in our lives. EVERYTHING is better.

    Thank you for your candor. It is wonderful to read your journey.

  9. I applaud you for your ability to take some constructive criticism and investigate the critique. I never comment on blog posts, but am so impressed by your quest for whole foods and by your reasoned response to this. Way to go!

  10. Some may feel that comment was unnecessary, but I have to chime in and say I’m glad you got it and read it. My mother was obsessive when my brothers and I were little because one of us is allergic to corn (think how often a corn product is in a processed food or even lurking in a seemingly whole food) AND because she had been struggling with weight her whole life. As a result, I am 32 and still lack will-power around junk food… we just were never exposed as kids so didn’t practice moderation, and as a teenage babysitter in others’ homes I learned to binge on junk that literally wouldn’t be accessible to me later. I am slooooooowly learning how it makes me feel, what the ingredients are capable of doing to my health, etc. but it has been a long and winding road. Now, as a mother to a toddler and with another on the way, I’m very cautious to teach my kiddos about healthy eating without such harsh restrictions (as we have no allergies or sensitivities in this house) so they don’t wind up tempted to abuse junk food the way I have. We let the preschool treats slide because I pack his actual food each day (organic, local, whole, homemade), and we let him have Halloween candy and ballpark hotdogs (shudder!!!) and just don’t make a big deal out of the 5-10% he ingests that isn’t clean. Hopefully he (and his future sibling too) will grow up with a good sense of balance and no food issues. Fingers crossed!

  11. I have not read all 400 comments and thus apologize if this has already been said, but as an older mom of teenage children, I can share with you if you provide good, healthy, tasty, and quality food for your children, when they are offered and eat “junk” they won’t like it and probably won’t feel good after eating it. They’ll start to learn to self regulate what they want to eat. For example, we always had chocolate around when the kids were little – not the fake “Hershey bar” sort of chocolate, but real chocolate, often from Europe or South America. Anyway, when my daughter was about 4 years old, she came home from pre-school with some of those “chocolate” coins. The surprise in her eyes and indignation from her crinkled up mouth signaled pure betrayal. This was not what she expected and she ran to the garbage can and spit it out. “Mom, that’s not chocolate”. “Yes honey, I’m sorry that that wasn’t very good. It probably looked much better than it tasted.” “I’m never eating that again!” After many halloween’s and school parties, and treats handed out at sports games, we have a little container for this stuff. It sits around for a week or two just to give anyone the opportunity to eat it (which no one does) and then gets dumped into the garbage. It doesn’t even temp them anymore. They know what real food (and real treats) taste like. Teach your children to enjoy real food and they’ll taste the junk food off and on, but if you don’t make a big deal out of it, and if you ask then how they feel a few minutes or an hour after they eat it (usually they’ll feel “icky”), you’re on your way to helping them to self regulate. Reading labels is great too, but once weaned from processed foods to real food, it will be hard for them to go back. I think my kids would rather starve rather than eat a school lunch. My 17 year old still brings her own snacks to sleepovers when she knows the family only serves junk food – not at my request, but all on her own. She just knows she doesn’t want to feel bad the next day.

  12. I applaud your response to the feedback that was given–both in your blog and in your personal life. Finding a balance is sometimes so difficult, and we all just try to do the best we can. I have three children, ages 2, 6, and 8 and have been very focused on eating healthfully as a family (eating organic, cutting out processed foods, etc.) since my children were born. That said, I also am very aware of what an over-focus on food choices can do, as a psychotherapist who specializes in working with children and adults with eating disorder and body image issues, and having a past history with eating concerns myself. On a side note, my husband and I allow my children to have a few small pieces of candy (or a cookie) after lunch and dinner in an effort to provide balance, and to prevent these from becoming “forbidden foods” which are then more likely to be snuck and eaten in excess when they get older. This works well for us and it appears so far that our kids do not seem over focused on candy and enjoy the many healthy foods we provide. Thank you again for your thoughtful response to this issue!

  13. THANK YOU. I have been battling with balance and perspective, and trying to carefully (not scarily) teach my 5 year old about healthy eating. It is something I am passionate about, and tend to go OCD with. Your well written blog helped me take a deep breath and relax a little, which I really needed to do. Can’t thank you enough!

  14. Well said and well done! You make me feel better about my decisions with my two beautiful daughters (although I could be better [and I’m working on it!], my oldest one, at 7 years old, is more aware and self-controlled than she would be if we didn’t teach her.)

  15. What a great response to the post from last week!!! I think your actions to all the neagative post was awesome.

  16. I think you are doing great! There are so many things out there saying “this is the right way to eat.” Each person has different needs. One doesn’t want to be consumed by food, make it an idol (most important in life) or for it to become their “religion.” I encourage moms, women and people wanting to learn more about eating good, to take the wisdom that is available and apply it to one’s own life. We all care about our kids and we all want what is best for them. We are all in different seasons of our lifes. Some are just realizing whole foods are the way to go. Which ever it may be for someone, let’s just keep encouraging one another. I enjoy reading your blog. You are a good mama.

  17. Fortunately, a majority of people’s children do not have severe reactions to wheat,sugar or other processed food. But for those of us who do have children who react either physically or behaviorally to food that their body rejects, we have to be obsessed with what they eat. When you are following Feingold for ADHD or GAPS for autism or your child has severe food allergies or severe allergies in general or problems with their immune system, it’s a whole other story. You can’t have casual cheats because the consequences are just not worth the cupcake or piece of candy. Our children can’t be close to “normal” in their functioning unless we give them an “abnormal” diet by today’s standards. I am totally understanding of where you are coming from! Just putting it out there that those of us who are strict and obsessed (looking) may have a very good reason. Don’t judge us either! Thanks for the post!

    1. Ditto Julie. We have reactions in our home and we suffer for the occasional ‘junk food’, which does happen very occasionally. But on the flip side, I can appreciate these allergies and sensitivities today. I am better informed and seek education on what’s harmful and helpful for the body. So many of our friends and family think we’re quacks, but has sparked an interest for some, too, to learn for themselves why that ooey gooey bright colored cake may be harmful.
      I have a 15 yr old who is sure dairy isn’t a problem for him. I have my own opinion about this but have decided recently to give him the freedom to choose if he wants to eat dairy. Hoping he will make wise choices through his own trial and error. And hey,,,maybe I’m mistaken. He does choose on his own to avoid gluten, so that’s progress. :)

    2. Thanks for this perspective. My 3 year old son has multiple food allergies, and I only WISH he could freely accept food from others (at school, birthday parties, etc.) Please don’t judge parents who HAVE to be obsessed with the food their child eats!

  18. Love this post; the truth is people get so obsessed with hard rules that we breed more eating disorders.
    Because I followed the 100 day plan, albeit three years late, I find I am no longer obsessed with food and see it as just food. Will I participate in a few treats? Sure, but real foods appeals to me more now. I have a doctor who has so many rules for food that she can’t have smoothies because she thinks it is too much sugar when it is a smoothie. As stated above, she has fallen prey to the no food is safe philosophy. I think this is a great way to raise kids. Yeah for this blog!

  19. My oldest didn’t have sugar until he was 3. For the past 30 years, he hasn’t cared for sweets or chocolate at all.

  20. Well said. It is almost impossible to eat healthy 24/7. Schools serve crap, kids are offered cake at parties, and sometimes it is just easy to grab a good old Chicago Hot Dog. We are raising our son to be aware and to most often make good choices as a general rule. Being a Food Nazi Parent will only send the wrong message but ultimately backfire when the kids are not under the watchful eyes of their parents.

  21. Children usually learn their issues from their parents and we all have issues. I applaud what you are doing with your girls, and hope that we can raise ours to be aware of chemically processed food. I feel it was unfair for a stranger to try to make you feel bad about something her own mother did. I suppose blogging opens you up to that. I am encouraged about your attitude towards the social aspect of food. When we are making choices for us and our family, we make them as best we can, but we never make other people feel like the food they are eating, or the food they’ve prepared for us is not good enough. I just wrote a post about this. Finding the balance between practical and natural. http://allmostnatural.com/practical-and-natural/
    Keep up the good work!

  22. SO glad you took the time to post this! I am a fairly new Mom of a 1 year old daughter (this month) and a 3 year old son (July). Since I’ve started reading your blogs and using your recipes among others like Food Babe and such, I have found myself developing sort of an obsession over eating healthy, non-processed, real foods. Now doing this with a 1 year old and an almost 3 year old is not that hard because they are so young and unexposed to what is out there. But, I have found myself getting anxiety over what WILL be out there when they are old enough and when they go to school and friends’ houses etc. I have told myself that I cannot control what is presented to them out of my presence and that I can only educate them on what is healthy for their bodies and what is not and allow them to make decisions for themselves. But, I still find myself ridden with anxiety and worry, that if I am not able to control 95% of their food intake, then any sickness or disease to befall them lands on my shoulders because I could’ve done more. My husband gets upset with me and doesn’t understand my reasonings. He says I’m taking it too far and his lack of support (with my obsession) doesn’t feel good either. I feel like not being able to nourish them with the best of the best 100% of the time is a huge lack in my mothering skills…..although my reasoning does tell me this is impossible. So, reading something like this is helpful if for no other reason than to allow myself to “chill out” a little and come to terms with the fact that I can’t control ALL of the environments with which my children grow up in, 100% of the time. And I certainly wouldn’t want any negative affects to adversely come upon them as a result of my healthy (or unhealthy) obsessions. So thanks for all you do and thanks for your honesty. <3

    1. Shawna- I can SO relate to your post. After switching to real food 6 years ago, I too became a fanatic. I would go to friend’s homes for parties/bbqs and hide behind thier shrubs while everyone ate, or pretend to be monitoring the kids because I didn’t want to eat the packaged crap everyone had brought for the party. I was simply obsessed with making sure only pure things passed mine and my family’s lips. Until I read about orthorexia and I realized I was quickly headed down that road. (If you’ve never heard of it, do a search on it.)

      Once I wrapped my head around the concept that it is WAY more stressful on the body to live under constant worry than it is for my kid to have a store made cupcake three times a year, I began to relax. I now employ the 80/20 rule knowing that most days, all day, my family is only eating what I’ve prepared from scratch for them, and if they have the occasional Twinkie or candy bar that the world won’t end. I know I’m a lot more fun to be around now that I’m not so paranoid. You’re doing a good job, Mama. Just go with the flow. It will all be well!

      1. Susan – thanks so much! I looked up orthorexia. Definitely not a good thing! My thing that my husband hates so much is that I start thinking that if I don’t control everything that goes into my children’s mouths, then they could (or they will) get cancer or some other degenerative disease and I could’ve controlled that by having them eat perfectly all the time. Even though, as I said before, my logical self tells me this is ridiculous and impossible. So the obsession begins to try and accomplish this all the while realizing the 100% is not possible. But the obsession in trying takes the fun out of food…and life! And then I feel like I really can’t win. The more I read and educate myself, the more I want to feed the obsession because everything in our food system is so scary! Especially for little developing minds and bodies. :( But I like the 80/20 rule! And most days my family, like yours is eating everything that I have prepared from scratch or I know extensively the details of what’s inside and where it’s come from down to the feed that the cows were eating. Thanks for your thoughts! It always helps to know you aren’t the only one out there! I really appreciate it!

  23. I don’t have kids (yet), but I just have to say…I. Loved. This. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s impossible for kids to be sheltered from processed foods. Impossible. While we don’t have to throw our hands up and just let them eat it whenever to “let them be kids,” we have to be careful about labeling foods as “bad” and creating an obsession over food (not saying you are doing that :)). Learning all this real food information and trying to stay on track is/was stressful enough for me as an adult, so I can only imagine how children must feel — especially when they see other kids eating all the things they *can’t* have. Obviously when allergies and other health issues come into play, we may have to be more strict with food, but otherwise we have to find a balance that allows us to eat healthy foods without going completely crazy over this stuff (at least until the food industry changes…). And though we all might have a different “balance,” there is no need for judgement when we are all just trying to do our best. This is getting long, so I just wanted to say, thank you for having the courage to share and for being open-minded and…human!

  24. GREAT article Lisa. Such a good, powerful message. I have fallen in love with your website and you and your family just seem so real and relatable. Thanks you for all the work you do! :)

  25. I just wanted to say that I give you a lot of credit for doing a great job of walking this fine line! I think you are doing an incredible job for your family and am in frequent amazement that your kids eat so well. I think you do a great job balancing the wonderful healthy food education with letting them still be kids and hopefully doing that in such a way that they won’t have “complexes” about food but rather feel educated and empowered and *want* to make good choices. I know that it seems like the healthier I eat, the more I enjoy healthy food versus other food and hopefully that type of preference will follow your kids through their lives.

  26. Lisa, thank you for this post. I love your honesty. I don’t have any children and I find all the “rules” overwhelming. I think it all boils down to teaching them to make good choices. Not just with food, but in everyday life, so that they will grow up to be productive members of society. Your talk with your daughter was perfect. She seems to be making good choices already. My hat is off to you as a woman and mother.

  27. Lisa, raising kids to be healthy is a hard line to follow. I have two teenage boys who have had their share of junk food but are more than happy to give all of it up because they now understand how important it is to be healthy. I also have a 5 yr old boy who seriously wants every bad thing he sees or sees others have and I find myself constantly saying no to all the junk he would consume if I let him. I do try to find acceptable alternatives so he doesn’t feel too deprived and on occasion will allow him to have something at friends while explaining to him how to make good choices. However, lately, due to the increased business of life with teenage activities I have had to come to terms with my own limits for preparing the variety and quantities of food needed to take to said activities while still maintaining some order at home. I have had to buy a few more prepared items than I like but realize this is only for a time. The other realization I came to, is that my children are heading off into the world, the world of cafeteria food that I will not be preparing, in high school and beyond. Food decisions are increasingly in their hands, I just keep talking to them about what is healthy and what is not while not fretting over the less than ideal food choices out there.

  28. I went to a “real food” diet last year. Not because I really wanted to but because I suffer from migraines and one of my many doctors recommended it.

    I used your blog as a guide, but then you got judgy and I stopped. I do not think there is anything wrong with an occasional indulgence or slip up.

    I eat whole grain real food at home. If i go out and grab a burger with friends I don’t feel bad about the white bread.

    Food at the end of the day is fuel. If I restricted myself I would go crazy. I live alone, go to school full time working on my phd, teach a full course load at the community college, substitute at other schools and tutor. Packing ahead takes a lot of work most of which i do on Sunday but sometimes I don’t have enough. Those days I pick the healthiest option available to me and I eat it because its better then starving myself. My body has reacted well and my migraines are less which is good.

  29. Thank you! I grew up with a mother with an eating disorder and therefore went on my first diet at age 6 and full blown disorder by the end of 7th grade. I would be rewarded for school accomplishments with candy, but criticized regularly about my weight, despite limiting lunches to less than 200 calories and counting the 2.5 calories in my half stick of sugar free gum every morning. I struggle with weight to this day and make it a point NEVER to discuss food or weight in an unhealthy manner to my boys.

  30. Hi Lisa! I’ve been a social media stalker of yours for a while, especially when I learned you live in Charlotte-I live in Hickory. Thank you so much for this post-it will really help me in my quest to eat healthier yet realistically. While my husband and I don’t have kids of our own yet, I am trying to help my family (including my 64 year old parents) to be more aware of the foods we put into our bodies. When the time comes for me to have my own children, I feel I am better prepared through reading your story and educating myself. Thanks to your Facebook posts, your introduction to Food Babe and just perusing your site I feel I am getting the hang of eating healthfully and mostly unprocessed foods 90% of the time. As a former school food nutrition director, I am ashamed of the “food” we (adults) have passed off as nutritious to kids. I will never be able to go back to feeding sweet, innocent children so much of those processed meals ever again. Now that I am more aware of food and it’s impact on my body as well as being aware of what my body needs to be stronger (and what it doesn’t need), I feel healthier than I’ve ever been in my life (and I’ve been able to lose 35 pounds). Thank you for your commitment to educating and sharing with us what you learn, your struggles and your accomplishments. You have helped me revolutionize my life and I hope to do the same for others as I hope to pursue a career in nutrition.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  31. I do enjoy reading your blog, and I’ve shared some of the posts with my 8 year old daughter. She, like me, is beginning to read labels to see what she is choosing to put in her body. Now she’ll notice if there are dyes in there, and we’ll look for an alternative.

    One thing I’m trying to get away from is her thinking that something in the category of ‘junk food’ as a treat. She does enjoy a sweets, and I’m not overly cautious, but we make good choices whenever possible. If she does splurge on a sugary something, we balance it out with a glass of Greens or some carrot sticks. This works for her.

    I also sell body wraps and so she sees me wrapping, and hears about my clients. But, we have shared with her that it’s about getting healthy and having our bodies run and be the way they were created to be. I truly believe if we pour positive things into our children, and they see our healthy examples, they will follow naturally. My mom yo-yo dieted all of her life, and I never wanted to be that way. Now I’m finding that as I give my body what it was made to crave, it is responding by easily maintaining a healthy size and having plenty of natural energy. Even my 8 yr old recognizes that she feels better when she puts good things in her body.

    Thanks for all you do to share with us~

  32. Thank you for this. I was having this struggle in my head this past weekend since my son will be starting school soon. He can see that I make a lot of things from scratch and knows that certain things are not a everyday or weekly thing but once and a while treat. I do worry with so many parents that just don’t seem to care and all the sugar that is handed out. I also try to keep my son away from Red40. For some reason that one dye just makes him crazy.

    My mom has always been hyper aware of her body and size which gave me issues to the extent of an eating disorder. I never ever ever want for either of my kids. It sucks and its so hard to re-program.

    This post was just what I needed. Thank you

  33. This came a such a great time! I have been trying to guide my family into the eating “real food” but it is very trying. So I thought it would help by explaining to them why certain foods are bad and what they can cause etc. But now just have my 10 year old telling me “Mom you think everything is bad, what are we to eat?” So I know that redirecting the motivation to eating better/clean is key to its success. I love your blog and have passed it on too so many! Thank you!

  34. Good post. I think it is very true, people can easily blur the lines of what is good for you and do things in excess instead of moderation. You’re a good mom!

  35. I was starting to get more healthy real food at the beginning of the year. However life got in the way(my world was turn upside own). Now the last three weeks my daughter schedule was crazy and I mentally kept track of what she ate and nothing was healhty or real. Now I know I need to get back on track,Time to clean out the cupboards and start looking for healthy recipes. Thank you for the post.

  36. Ahhh… Balance! What most of us can only dream for, but you seem to be one step closer now. Good for you.

  37. This is a much needed post, children are our future and nutrition plays a huge role in their lives. It can either be a great enabler or disabler, thank you again.

  38. I appreciated this post. For 100 days I told my three year old that sugar was poison and bad for her body. That made it easier for her not to eat it. Now we are done with our pledge and although I don’t have it at home, when others offer her sweets (in front of me, without asking) and I tell her she can eat it she is SO CONFUSED (is sugar poison or not??). I’m still trying to figure out the best approach to this one.

    1. Hi Candice- One way we described bad food vs good food in toddler terms was that we said some food will make you run really fast, and some will make you slower. Now, nothing is killing you slowly, but it might make you run slower, climb slower, not jump as high than the other kids. For some reason, this clicked for my kids (a boy and a girl). They both loved running around, they don’t want to lose all the races. I don’t know any of the answers to this modern day food dilemma, but this is one line that worked well.

  39. Thank you for this post. We have recently recently changed to real food. I find myself struggling with allowing my child to eat “junk” My husband is not completely on board with this change, and although some of my family is, they haven’t made the change completely. My 5 year old keeps asking if something is healthy… I don’t want him to ever worry about food. I really enjoy your blog.

  40. i LOVE this post with all my little heart! I’m trying to find a good median… I just had a baby and am scared he’s going to want to indulge in sweets all the time! I’m the only health conscience one in my family and on my husband’s side…so I worry what he’s going to eat and not want to eat healthy when he gets home. Then I watch documentaries that show you should eat raw food and all other food is terrible! Then I drive myself crazy thinking there’s no real food out there that I can eat! Then I calm down and realize I eat healthy the majority of the time, only drink water, and exercise regularly. I’ve always been skinny…but skinny doesn’t mean healthy! This post made me feel sane and at peace! lol. It was like a light bulb went off! This shall become the norm in our house :)))

  41. Love this!! We’re are still trying to find our way with food choices and making changes as we go. Going against the grain is hard for all of us and especially my kids as they are in the peer groups where conformity is easier. I have to keep telling myself 80/20. If we eat well 80% of the time, then I need to let go of the other 20% so we can all be relaxed and enjoy the people and opportunities around us. I don’t think we’re up to 80% yet but I’m working on it! 80/20, 80/20, 80/20… Breathe!!

  42. I’m so glad you posted this. Our family has also struggled with this balance. And I’m glad to see that there’s still a way to keep good habits in the spotlight without being too restrictive. This is now my stance with my kid as well. Thanks again.

  43. Lisa, I think that you have made the perfect compromise! We have taken this approach at home as well and it seems to be working well. For the record, I am, however, still far more concerned that my girls are getting negative body image/food issues from other moms’ comments – “I need to work out,” “Eating this will make me fat” – etc – than I am from the growing focus on real food. I hope that you find that this is the right path for your girls!

  44. Thanks for your post Lisa. With 3 daughters myself, I also find it difficult to combat the constant barage of body image and body consciousness women/girls are faced with every day. “Food-ucation” is no easy task. I don’t like that my girls sometimes eat other kids’ Doritos at lunch or get sodas or candy for prizes at school, but I’m trying to teach my girls that being healthy is all about making choices. Good choices, like bad ones, are cumulative. We, as parents, just have to do the best we know how and cross our fingers we did a good job.

  45. Thank you for this post, I really needed to read this. I am trying to find a balance in what to eat and what not to eat and not going to extremes. I guess what I am learning is moderation in all things.

  46. Thank you for posting something so vulnerable. You are not only an inspiration about eating better but also about how parents interact with each other.

  47. Collette Youngblood

    I just want to say…you are just like the rest of us! (Festivus!) I think you are fabulous. Wonderful. Plus, you have changed my life, and the lives of my 5 kids. These are tough times, when everything we see, touch, and eat is potentially toxic. Tough times I say. None of us want to end up being the crazy mom, and there are some days when I do better (much better) than others. Anyone at all conscious or caring about what goes in their bodies and their childrens bodies is 99% of the curve if you ask me! Everything in moderation…even moderation…Love to you and yours! XOXOXOX

  48. I think the social aspect of junk food is the hardest part and it’s tough watching kids have to make the decision to forgo a treat. That’s part of the reason I make it easier on mine by giving them money when they pass up the junk food or food as a reward. I worry if they don’t learn to make that decision as a child, they won’t be equipped to deal with it as an adult (like so many aren’t).

  49. Great post! I catch the same flak, and have thought a lot about this issue too. I did actually suffer with orthorexia ~ yes, there is a name for it!! I had a dreadful time eating anything not “clean” and actually deciding what to eat was becoming paralyzing. The fact that you are aware & active in teaching your kids is brilliant and I applaud you for sharing such a personal post!

  50. Oh my! I understand. I am a Registered Dietitian, Master’s in Nutrition, getting my doctorate. I work on childhood obesity prevention research studies. I can’t seem to give my kid a freaking peppermint without people questioning me. When they see me at the market they look in my cart. It’s so difficult to have balance.

  51. Lindsey Griffith

    I have never posted before as I am still new to 100 days of real food. I have to say Thank you Lisa and your helpers for all that you do! We eat so much better now. I have an 8 year old and one on the way and because of Real Food we are healthier and happier.

  52. Hello! I am a teenager, and I have a few girls in my school who are anorexic. Most of these eating disorders could have been prevented if their parents weren’t/aren’t so controlling. Obviously with kids at your kids age, you can control everything (or almsot everything) they eat. However, please start getting ready already to release all this control of your kids! Depending on your kids personalities, they might decide to take complete control of their diet and either not eat anything or eat everything they can, if you continue to parent them in this way as they get older. I really worry that you will try to continue to parent your kids like this when they grow older, and become teenagers. Being a teenager myself, I can guarantee that that will not go over well. As I read through your blog posts, I imagine what your average teen would do if their parents parented them in this way. Your average teen would probably turn it into a huge battle, and would most likely have a eating disorder.
    PLEASE get ready to change the way you’re controlling your daughters diets now, or be ready for a guaranteed fight for control. If you don’t, you will be sacrificing having a good relationship with your daughters, and you will be sacrificing their mental health. That isn’t worth controlling what they eat!

  53. I struggle with doing anything less than best once I know what best is- I now believe that eating the way I’m learning from you is best. So when I ‘fail’ by not having fully converting my kids (primarily due to a husband who’s not on board fully) then I beat myself up. I appreciate this reminder that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing and what I am doing, is a much healthier place than where we were 6 months ago.

  54. Morgan Perkins

    Let your young kids eat as many candy bars and donuts at one time as they want. They will get sick and won’t want to do it again. And be careful of denying them any sweets at all…I once had a friend whose mother did just that and as a result, when he was an adult, he binged on all the sugar his mom never let him eat. And yes that did cause a weight problem for him. I agree with some of the other posters… fight to make changes within the food companies producing the crap food laden with dyes, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Force them to bring a better product to market. Vote with your wallets. Volunteer at your schools and little league fields…spearhead campaigns to bring in healthier choices! A choice between a gatorade and a slurpee doesn’t give your child a fair chance to make the right decision.

  55. A doctor, and a mother riding the high of her daughter’s graduation and departure for college, gushed at me (then only the mother of 1 rather than 4 :) ) that if I second guessed everything I did for the next 18 years, then I could take comfort in the fact that I’m probably doing everything perfectly-because simply caring was the best thing I could do for my child. A wise woman indeed…! :D (Please excuse the terrible run-on sentence :P)

  56. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this post!! My daughter is four and I’ve talked with her about “red, yellow, and green light foods,” but I certainly don’t want her to obsess about it. I relate to you so much and I really appreciate your openness. This was such a great reminder and excellent advice!!!

  57. I am late chiming in here, but I wanted to commend you on your wisdom in this leniency. We have been pretty much a whole foods family for 10 years (much easier now to find good food than a decade ago!) In the beginning, I was very strict – it was easy, my kids were so young. Now that all three are teenagers, I am so glad I loosened up about 6 years ago. As teens, they are constantly presented with junk when parents are nowhere to guide them. Teaching them young to make the choice – even if it’s the one we don’t like, will actually cause them to make the right choice later. Over the years, my kids have overindulged in some junk while at a friends house, then voiced their unhappiness about it because they weren’t feeling well after. After a few times of having this carte blanche access to the “good stuff” they didn’t even want it anymore – they actually crave my food! My only request of them is that regardless of what it is, if they know it has dye in it, please don’t eat it. Food dyes scare me – that was the first thing I eliminated all those years ago…and as far as I know, they honor this one request.

  58. This is a wonderful article. I struggle with the same issue with my children – finding that balance so I’m not setting them up for a future in therapy. :) It’s great to know we really are all in this together. Thanks for not only this particular post, but your entire site.

  59. This is something I have just come to realize myself. I’ve created a real food pharisee! My oldest daughter can be legalistic and very judgmental of others’ food choices. I’m all for sharing the importance of real food, but not in a way that’s demeaning or overbearing. She was holding everyone to this super high standard, when she couldn’t always keep it herself.
    Our kids are allowed to make their own food choices outside the home now, as a way to combat the legalism. Most of the time they do just fine! But I want them to have a healthy understanding, and not be hard on themselves or others for sometimes eating junk.

  60. Ahhh, never easy finding the balance is it?
    Control the things you can and let the other ones go–help them understand the shades of gray–nothing is black or white. I think eating healthy variety of foods at home 80-90% of the time is a reslistic goal.
    Do i wish my DD did not get artifical junk in her treats outside of the home? Yes! But lets not burden the kids with this worry–we need to fight to make changes in policies that allow companies to put that junk in the foods.

  61. Lisa, you are doing a wonderful job with balancing your choice of words and your choice of food! I think happy carefree days, should be remembered by playing with the family, enjoying time together and yes, having some good food too. You have a great balance and they will look back and say, gosh Mom, we sure did have some great times together! They won’t say, oh wow, remember when I had 3 oreos at school, lol. Keep up the good work and thanks for getting so many of us on the right path!!! We appreciate your hard work!

  62. I think you made an a great decision. I know from personal experience (growing up with a mother who was and still is completely OCD about food) that it can scar a child being overly strict about food that same way it can scar a child being overly leniant about food. I still struggle with moderation when eating I feel because I was not taught it growing up. We were just not allowed to eat sweets at all. It’s a very fine line that I’m still trying to figure out for my children.Hopefully I won’t scar them too much! haha

  63. I appreciate your struggle for balance and your honesty!

    We have reached a similar conclusion, both from a parenting standpoint and from a financial one. While I buy and cook mostly whole and real foods, we simply cannot afford to eat all or even mostly organic/pastured/local foods. We want our kids to eat healthy food, to enjoy a wide variety of foods, to learn to cook and shop, and to understand the issues about food that concern us in age appropriate ways. But as you said, we don’t want them to worry about food or body image. We do not want to be “Food Nazis” or “The Green Police”. I have had bad experiences with people like that and don’t want to raise my kids to be them!

    As Christians, we believe that God is sovereign over our lives and our health and we rest in His provision for us, in this life as well as the next. We want to be good stewards of the bodies and the environment and the money He has given us and that can be a bit of a juggling act. We are glad that God is bigger than our food choices and His will for our health and lives is not going to be overruled by eating some junk food.

    I am so thankful that Christ came, lived, died and rose again to give His people an eternity with a New Heaven and a New Earth with no pollution, pesticides, illness, death or worrying!

    Thanks for your post!

  64. Thank you for all the wonderful information you post here. I have 7 kids and try to feed them as healthy as we can. You are doing just fine with your daughters, and teaching and modeling healthy eating habits is one of the BEST things you can do. If they don’t understand now, they will when theyre older and will be healthier than most. Good Job!!!

  65. this is a tough balance. I have come to similar crossroads when it comes to feeding my kids. I know that I am not perfect at this and will never be, but keeping a healthy balance is important. My kids can tell the difference when it comes to pocessed foods and foods I make. They become bloated and feel sick almost. So I am glad that the are aware. Keep up with what you are doing. We moms have a tough and important job.

  66. Lisa, I was just internalizing the same concerns for my son, who will be 8 next month. He has Asperger’s and so he takes everything we say very literally. While this works to our advantage in some regards, because he is conscious of making healthy choices and often asks us about foods, I took get concerned that he will take it too far. In the past year we have completely changed the way our family eats and we now exercise regularly. Our kids have begun to exercise with us. Even our 4yo daughter asks “Is this healthy?” before indulging in a treat. (Although she is likely to eat happily eat something even after hearing that it’s not healthy food). I think that as long as we educate our kids and don’t beat them over the head with information, we’re on the right track. I appreciate the effort you put into this blog and am happy to share the stories with my family and now many friends. Thank you!

  67. I worry about the same thing too. I was feeling that putting too much emphasis on anything (Drugs, Sex, Food, etc) can make the kids move in that direction instead of focusing on the teachings. Thanks, this was well written and encouraging.

  68. This post is why I follow your blog! I really feel like we are all in this together. My son gets overstimulated very easily and dyes in foods seem to aggravate that. I too struggle on how to limit it. At home, we do not have anything with dyes but then you go to their school carnival or birthday parties and there isn’t an alternative. I usually end up dealing with a melt down at the end but I don’t want to deprive him of the birthday cake or the occasional chick-fil-a play date. I think the real enemy is the food companies rather than the parents. They could help us out by offering some better choices so we don’t have to make everything oursevles!!

  69. Thanks for helping to lead us through this complicated parenting and food jungle, Lisa. Our kids are teens now so they need to make their own decisions about food, especially out of the house. I’m sure they eat things I’m not thrilled about but they also know how to make healthy choices and they eat our healthy, homemade meals and good snacks at home, so I think they’re doing alright.

  70. This is a wonderful post. My husband is a social worker in training, so we do talk about this issue regularly. There is a fine line between being hyper-vigilant about food and being too relaxed about it, and we all need to figure out how to deal with that line in our own families.

  71. Amy Ellebrecht

    Wow! Thank you so much for this post. You really helped me rethink my approach with my 2 boys as well. Especially the part about resisting the guilt trip feelings when they do have the occasional treat. I have a long way to go in getting my boys to eat a wide variety of veggies, but I see now that my behavior regarding the food we eat could and probably does influence my boys even more than I thought.

  72. Bottom line, they are your kids to raise as you please. I applaud you for listening to others and studying for new, maybe better ideas. We are no where as strict are you are, but our family does get lovingly teased for “eating healthy”. My husband and I both grew up on terrible diets. We have made changes along the way. A lot of them because we are sick. Thankfully we are getting better naturally, without taking prescription meds. We are only forty! Just to add our approach with our four kids. I choose for the most part what we eat at home. We talk and study about food and why our bodies need what they need. The nice thing now is that or oldest kids, who are 16 and 13, both boys. When they go to friends or relatives houses and indulge in horrible food, they don’t feel good. They are choosing to not always indulge or over-indulge because they don’t want to come home sick to their stomachs or with a headache. Obviously I’m not glad they are ill, but it has served as a powerful tool in them understanding their bodies and what makes them tick. All this to say, it is our responsibilities to teach our kids. I won’t be able to control ther decisions in the future. But they will have the information and hopefully the backbone to go against the grain if need be.

  73. We use the 80/20 rule at our house. Otherwise eating becomes too stressful, and let’s face it: Eating is a wonderful part of life. It should be celebrated much the way the people in many European countries do.

    We went to real food about 6 years ago when my daughter was 11 or so. I wasn’t sure how much of my talks about food were being absorbed by her -especially through those challenging teenage years- until very recently. My daughter was accepted to 6 colleges. Three of them she had never seen before, so her father took her to tour them. I received a text from her half way through her trip saying she had made up her mind already. When she returned a couple of days later she explained all the reasons she chose this one campus, but the one thing she kept going back to was that the school cafeterias offered organic foods and that there was a cafe on campus that served grass-fed burgers.

    As a parent, you often wonder what, exactly, is being heard by them. How refreshing -and relieving- to know that I was heard all those years and that it also became a determining factor in the next few steps on her life’s path!!

  74. Lisa- This post made me tear up a bit. I feel like I have made food a full time job and monitoring my family & their food intake can seem like it’s taking over my life. I want it to be more natural, but our world is like the opposing team and I am on the defense all the time. Thank you for sharing this. It was like a sigh of relief to me. Thank you for sharing your insight on this blog. I really look forward to learning along side of you and appreciate your honesty. I bought a BIG box of multi-colored popsicles yesterday & had buyers remorse, but it’s summer (well almost) in MN and the kids love them & it’s easy (& cheaper than the ice cream truck!). Sometimes we just have to go that route. This was just the post I needed to read this morning! Thanks!

  75. Thank you for this post! I have been trying to change the way we eat (though, believe me, we have a long way to go!) and your website has been inspiring. I am grateful for this post because I had not thought of this aspect of eating healthy and I will definitely try to incorporate this into my changes. Thank you again!

  76. I love this post because it is exactly what I deal with. I’ve been trying to be more laid back but it’s so hard! I don’t stress when my husband takes the twins to Wendy’s for dinner when I’m not in town, or when a birthday at preschool means cupcakes and candy. I ignore my family’s rolled eyes when we walk in for a 3-day stay with 2 bags of groceries. I am serious about my commitment to what I feed my kids regardless of what others think but it is tough. I have a friend with older kids and she gave me great advice that the girls need to be exposed to bad food and to learn to make their own decisions about food. Something to work on, for us.

  77. This was great, I love how honest you are. It can sometimes feel like a battle between our healthy food at home and the food others offer the kids outside of home. I often get discouraged when I don’t get to offer the kids a “treat” because Grandma has already done that for the day! haha. All we can do is focus on the food the children get at home and try not to stress about what happens at school and Grandma’s!

  78. Thank you for this post. I am becoming a step-mom in July, to kids that will be with us for half of every week. We have no control over what they will eat when they’re not with us, and their dad tends to indulge them in unhealthy snacks. His daughter is already putting on excess weight at the age of 9. Its a big challenge to find ways of encouraging a healthy lifestyle without giving either of them body-image/eating disorders in the future! I am at a total loss at times, and the reminder that its a process that we can figure out as we go is certainly helpful. I have already stopped criticizing my own body in front of them as well.

  79. I needed to read this today. As I have changed our ways of eating so my whole family be healthy, it is very hard to allow junk food at times. Keep up the great work!

  80. This is a great post – it’s so hard to strike a balance, even as an adult. Even though I don’t have kids yet, it’s really interesting to see how other people handle this problem.

  81. At 65 yrs old I look back on all the foods my children ate growing up. They are now 43, 41, 39. They ate Hamburger Helper, sloppy joe mix, and a few other processed foods. They all seem to be ok, however, I don’t think the processed foods were as harmful as they are today.

    With the major corporations (Food sales) in bed with the FDA (governmental officials) it is impossible to know that even the foods we think are healthy are really healthy!

    Common sense and all things in moderation…..

  82. Wow – great post, Lisa. I’ve visited your blog a few times, and ended up here today because a friend posted the link on Facebook. As someone who has struggled with a spectrum of eating disorders (starting with AN, then back and forth between BN and BED for about 10 years), I applaud your efforts and this change. I will also say, though, that didn’t grow up in a household that was particularly restrictive; it was other things, both in and out of the family that seemed to conspire against me. I think the steps you’re taking – and the knowledge your girls do and will have – is brilliant. I think what’s even more brilliant, is your care not to criticize your body in front of them. I think my mom’s (and dad’s) poor body-image sent a pretty strong message to me about my own self-worth and where it comes from. I guess my point is that while you can do everything in your power to protect them, it’s not all in your control. I don’t think it’s my parents’ fault that I’ve struggled with this – who’s to say that if they did things differently it still wouldn’t have happened? What I’m trying to say is enjoy your little girls! You’re doing great and you’re a great mama!

  83. As a psychologist who treats eating disorders and as a mother of two girls who cares about healthy living, I found your post to be nuanced and gracious. Lovely.

  84. Hi! I hope this is not a double post, it appears that my comment didn’t go through, so my apologies if this is a repeat…

    Thank you so much for this post! It could not have come at a better time for us. My husband and I are expecting our first child (a girl), in two short months. We were actually talking about how to raise children who value their bodies and their health just last night. I did have an eating disorder in college and I would never ever want that for my precious girl (or boys if we have one in the future). I realize that fine line between knowing and observing what is healthy for your body and obsessing over “good” and “bad” foods. The way you raise your girls is such a fine example of how to raise health conscious children who value their bodies. Thank you for the time and effort you put into sharing with your blog readers!

  85. I love this article, in fact I truly enjoy your website. Although I have not completely come over to only real foods, I am a baker, I am slowly bringing it in to our lifestyle one step at a time, right now it’s breakfast, got and have had dinner down for a while. I think we, as parents make the biggest stresses out of the littlest things, that’s what great parenting is, an learning along the way is what makes it better. I am glad to see that you are willing to change some thing for your kids, this also encourages them to learn to make decisions on their own too, they know they are trusted to do the right thing, and makes a more positive relationship, yes I can tell you have a great relationship, this helps out more. I encourage you, and all of us to continue freaking out about every little thing when our kids aren’t watching, and love watching them grow into the people they will be!

  86. I love ur blog. I am trying to do the same thing by only putting healthy food into my 2 girls. But socially they r offered junk food everywhere. We have had many discussions and they r understanding the balance that is needed to be healthy. They know they need to have a healthy snack before a sweet one at grandmas. They know if they had birthday cake they shouldn’t have dessert after dinner bc too much sugar just isn’t good for u and will make u feel yucky. I pump them full of the healthiest food I can find at home so they can go out into the world and enjoy themselves w friends to a certain limit. Balance and moderation is what I’m teaching them

  87. Wow! My husband and I began our 100day challenge on April 1. Many times we have said how grateful we are that you have made so much information so easily available on this website. We too have a daughter, and I have had these same thoughts and concerns of not wanting to go overboard but simply educate to help her to make her own healthy choices. Thank you for being so transparent to such a large and critical audience.

  88. You are giving your kids the tools and knowledge to make healthy decisions. That is what parents need to do for their kids. Thanks for the article!

  89. I am very impressed with how you managed that situation. Your daughter is definitely more aware, more educated and not stressed about it. We should all strive for such excellence for or kids :) personally, I know how difficult it can be just for a clean eating adult alone to push through the world in a day, let alone strive to create a clean path for kids too. Bravo!!

  90. Your giving your kids the tools and knowledge to make healthy decisions. Thanks for the article!

  91. This post is why I love your site so much. Many “food” bloggers are so arrogant and would never admit they could make changes. You make me believe I can do this. Since switching my family to “real foods” in February, your site is my go-to for almost any question I have. Thank you so much and keep up the great work.

  92. You are doing a great job. I have the same phylosophy. I want my kids to be able to participate in life by enjoying the social aspects of food but also know that most of the time in normal situations we eat to nourish our bodies. You are out there for all to see and critisize because that is what some people do. They pick apart those who try to educate. I get it too from my friends. I think deep down inside these people do this because they want to make excuses for why they don’t put the hard effort into eating like we do. You have to just keep fighting for what you believe in. We need as many food advicates as we can get to be our voice!

  93. Isn’t this parenting gig hard? You’re doing great, and it’s wonderful to have a positive role model out there! Thanks for all you do.

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