I’ve been struggling with food lately, having a bit of a wobble about it in fact. I find it very hard to juggle all this strewing I need to do in order to be an effective unschooler.
It’s easier (apart from the dinner battles) to dictate meals and restrict sugar intake but it didn’t really work for us: M has always had just a few meals that she appreciated but they seemed so limited (think pasta and pesto and fish fingers 5x a week!); and D was similar with her limitations – she would eat lovely balanced meals but very few of them. But my biggest issue was how much they both revered chocolate and would place that above all other food!
So my plan is/was to place chocolate on the same plateau (pardon the pun) as other foods. It’s been about 6 months or so since we began unschooling food and so far it’s been partially successful. M’s diet is slowly expanding to include different kinds of meat, a couple of fruits, almond milk and other wonders. D is the reason for the wobble: she must have eaten chocolate wafers for 90% of our recent French holiday (the other 10% was olives, phew). When we got back from France her diet has been 90% Cadbury’s Flake and 10% Nutella on toast. I had hoped we’d be out of the chocolate bingeing phase by now but it seems not.
I want the sausages to be totally in touch with their bodies’ needs. I can teach them all there is to know about nutrition but if they want chocolate, they want chocolate. I am not going to tell D not to eat so much chocolate as I think she’d probably want it even more. I don’t want her to feel guilty about eating it either. I’m trying to remove all emotion associated with food (except joy!) so that the sausages grow up without any dietary issues that so many people have.
As is the way with unschooling, you have to unpick a lot of your own issues for it to be really effective. I’ve found it really helpful to mentally remove all guilt from my chocolate eating habits. Strangely, I found it very easy! I can now eat chocolate in front of the sausages at any time of day, rather than sneakily stuffing it in my gob after they’d gone to bed. 🙂 And now I feel less guilty about it, I actually eat less of it! Recently, I went on a ‘cream binge’ and I must have got through 3 or 4 pots of it (poured over strawberries) in a fortnight until my appetite was satiated. I like to think that my body was telling me this is what I needed so I went with it… and it felt good!
So I’ve been working on making other food more attractive: I’ve bought some brightly coloured party platters which I plan to leave out in the lounge for the girls to graze on; and I’ve been putting platters out near where they’re playing. Over the past few months I’ve become quite lax about monkey platters, partly because I ran out of ideas and partly because I don’t seem to find the time to organise them. So I’m trying to get myself and the girls enthused about their food again by providing them with a range of easily accessible food, that looks tempting to eat.
One of D’s major food issues is that she won’t readily try new foods. I’ve been baking various goodies to tempt her into a bit of home made food (even chocolate based food!) but although she’s happy to help me bake, she won’t eat the finished result. I hope that by putting various foods out that she might not necessarily ask for, she’ll get used to the sight and smell of them without any pressure to try.
I am confident that we’re on the right path, but when you wander down a road that not many travel on, I guess it’s only natural to have a wobble now and then.