Things I Say to Children

Two cliche, not new assertions and three scenarios are the motivation for this post:

The assertions:

  1. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20.
  2. Most things are easier said than done.

The scenarios:

  1. I’m standing in the kitchen debating with a nine year old what’s worse: having ice cream for dinner or having no dinner at all.
  2. Later that week, I’m fighting with a six year old because his throat hurts and he is refusing to eat breakfast. This time, I’m standing in the kitchen refusing to send him to school without breakfast. He had to eat something!
  3. Most recently, I’m picking a fight with a nine year old about why a Chewy granola bar isn’t the best choice for breakfast. 

Here we go!

In the midst of these disputes I calmly and directly present common knowledge about nutrition and bodies in stylized child-friendly language as the foundation for my perspective. I say things like:

  1. Your body needs calories. So, if you’re choosing not to have dinner or to eat ice cream for dinner, pick ice cream. Calories are energy and after a hard day working and learning you need to refuel your body to get ready for the next day. I also share that some types of energy are more sustaining to your body. I explain that while ice cream has dairy it also has a lot of sugar. It could give you energy in the short run but make you hungry or needing more energy in a few hours. 
  2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You can’t go to school without breakfast because your brain won’t be ready to learn. You need to eat a healthy breakfast to tell your brain and body it’s time to start the day. [I then go on to encourage some healthy breakfast options such as eggs, cereal, fruit, etc. Which, brings me to the granola bar argument…]
  3. Chewy granola bars are processed foods, I say. Your body can process foods all on its own, but it prefers whole and natural foods. You can tell if something you’re eating has natural ingredients by looking at its label. If there are words/foods you can’t recognize on the label it’s likely your body can’t recognize them either, and it’s going to be difficult for you to digest. Which means, your body cannot get the nutrition as quickly or completely.  [And then, we’re back to them importance of eating breakfast…]

I say these things and I believe them wholeheartedly – just apparently they don’t apply to me! My perception of my body and what my body needs is so distorted right now. I know my brain and body need nutrients and energy. I realize some foods are easier to digest than others, and protein gives you more sustained energy than sugar. I contend 100% that breakfast is important. Yet, I’m struggling to eat at least 700 calories a day, and it’s shockingly, incredibly easy for me to justify and rationalize this! These morning spats have become my daily reality check – my conscience is screaming “listen! just listen and take notes.” I’m standing there insisting they eat a healthy, hearty breakfast yet I finished my second run of the day at 10 PM the night before (only 9 hours after my first run) and didn’t eat anything before I got to their house. I’m firmly convinced that coffee is food, and it’s the only type of energy I need.

Sill, I firmly persist on my pursuit of serving a nutritional breakfast each day.

I know I should take my own advice!

Here’s the thing, the brain is wickedly deceptive. Most days, I truly think I’m absolutely fine. There are even moments (ex. when I’m researching or running) where I feel absolutely unstoppable – invincible even. I feel purposeful, diligent, excited – I feel alive! In those fleeting moments, I can’t believe the other frenetic days/feelings were real. I can’t believe I felt/was/am that out of control. And in hindsight, I realize those are the moments I’m MOST out of control. I’d like to be able to discern between real control and what’s so terrifyingly out of control it feels good – maybe even calm.

I realized how hard it is for me to practice what I preach, when I acknowledged how crippling it feels to do things that are “good for my body”*. Hence, most things are easier said than done.


*this is meant in the most literal sense. I’m not food shaming, dispelling bouts of “fitspo”, or claiming to understand nutritional science. Also, all bodies and all bodies’ needs are different.