After my posts on Intuitive Eating, which you can find here, here and here, one of my awesome readers asked an important question in the comments. Gina wanted to know: “Do you have to cook 4 meals if what your body wants is not the same as what your husband’s or teenage boys’ bodies want?” Now, I figured that many of you out there who have children are probably wondering the same thing. Learning (or remembering) to eat intuitively on your own is already hard enough, but what about when you’re responsible for feeding multiple people? How are you supposed to know what their bodies want? And will you have to prepare separate meals for everyone? I’m sure a lot of you felt completely overwhelmed at the mere thought of getting your whole family to implement this way of eating and decided that while it’s a nice little idea, it’s completely unrealistic in practice. Let me try and squash some of those fears and clear up some of that confusion.

In preparation for this post, I sat down with a few moms to find out what their biggest concerns were (ok, I cornered them at a kid’s birthday party and wouldn’t let them go until they answered my questions). You see, I don’t actually have kids myself, and so while I understand the principles involved, I’ve never had to deal with a child who has decided that from this moment on, he will no longer eat anything except cheese. Apparently, threatening to scrap the kid and make a better one from scratch doesn’t work. I needed to do my research, damn it. And what I discovered was that although many of the old paradigms that I was subjected to as a child had diminished, they were still lingering about. And once again, parents who already knew what to do, simply needed to be given permission to follow their instincts. Because nothing will bring out other people’s opinions (like your family’s, your in-laws’, your neighbors’, the lady at the grocery store’s), like the subject of raising your kids, and especially the subject of how to feed them. Everyone’s going to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, that you need to get them to eat more of this and less of that, and that you’re almost certainly going to just completely screw them up. How are you supposed to follow your own inner guidance amidst all that noise? Let me give you some back up. And then, when your mother in law tries to make you feel guilty for not loving your kids enough to smother them with diabetes-inducing foods, you can just blame it all on me. I’ll set the bitch straight*. Ready?

You DO NOT have to force your kids to eat

The basic premise of intuitive eating is that you learn to listen to your body and then give it whatever it wants. The number one fear that every mother I spoke with had, was that if they gave their kids free reign, they’d gorge themselves on sugar and would never touch a vegetable. And I’m sure they’re right. Children are born with the ability to eat intuitively. And then we go and train them out of it (this is getting better, but it still happens). We can’t help it. It’s how we grew up and we have all these old “rules” to follow, which make it nearly impossible to follow our own inner guidance. One of those rules is that you have to make sure that your kids eat enough, and especially that they eat enough of the good stuff, like veggies. This belief is based in the thought that your kids, if left to their own devices, would starve or become completely malnourished. Except, they wouldn’t. Because the body’s survival mechanism is much stronger than that. And once children are old enough to physically feed themselves, and as long as they have access to food, they will never, ever starve.

You, as a parent, are responsible for providing your child with a variety of healthy food choices. Your child is responsible for eating them.

I cannot stress this enough. Unless your child is actually deprived of all food, locked in a room and physically restrained, they will not starve. You never, ever have to force a child to eat, or eat enough. You just have to control the choices. So, the idea is not to let the child loose in a candy shop and then ask them to eat anything they want. The idea is to present the child with a variety of healthy food choices and then let them manage it from there.

Your kids are allowed to have taste buds

The old adage of forcing children to eat their vegetables, whether they like them or not, is pure and simple bullshit. It’s also cruel. Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering your favorite dish. And then the waiter comes over and informs you that they will not be serving you what you ordered, but rather something that you hate, and you’d better clean your plate, mister! It’s as if we’re saying that kids aren’t allowed to have taste buds. They will like some foods and they won’t like others. Just like you. So, if your kids hate Brussels sprouts, for God’s sake, don’t force them to eat Brussels sprouts (this is for you, mother in law!). And slathering them with cheese (or artificial cheese sauce) doesn’t make it better (or healthier). If your kids’ bodies needed what’s in Brussels sprouts, they’d like them. That’s how it works. As long as your children have access to a variety of foods that contain the nutrition they need, their bodies will not allow them to become deficient in anything. They will begin to crave what they need.

Cooking real food DOES NOT take all day

You don’t have to can your own peaches to serve your family healthy meals. Personally, I don’t cook anything that takes more than 20 minutes (because I’m lazy and I’m totally willing to admit that). But you might be surprised that you can actually make a healthy meal from scratch in the same amount of time that it takes you to heat up a processed meal. We have this idea that healthy cooking is an all-day activity. Well sure, the makers of processed foods and their marketing teams just love to paint that picture. It will take you hours and hours to actually cook a meal for your family. You’re a working mom. You’re too busy for that. Let us do that for you! And we’ll do just as good a job as you would, give or take a few ingredients. Trust us. Buwahahahaha. The truth is that throwing a few fresh veggies in a pan takes minutes. Making a sandwich with good quality, natural bread takes no more time than making it with nasty, artificial bread. You can even make your own mayonnaise in 60 seconds.

Yes, this will necessitate that you actually cook, and I get that this is a lot to ask if you’re a working parent. It’s a lot easier to pop a frozen pizza in the oven than to make one from scratch. And while it’s absolutely possible to make and freeze your own pizza ahead of time and while I can present you with the arguments that your family may actually come to love the natural meals more (because they taste better), and that your husband will no longer produce hallucination-inducing gas all night long, the harsh truth is that what this really comes down to priorities. Our society, especially the Western Nations, have stopped placing any value on what we feed ourselves. We eat foods that should, by rights, come with a hazmat warning and then wonder why we’re becoming sicker and sicker. But the truth is that the quality of the food we eat does make a huge difference. Our bodies were never designed to digest chemicals and processed foods. And eating these types of non-foods does come at a price.

You don’t have to change your whole diet at once, or even overhaul everything you eat. But you do have to be willing to make a change here and there, try new things every once in a while, and be open to learning a few new skills. For some of you, that may mean learning how to cook fresh vegetables or how to use herbs and spices. For others, it may simply mean starting to read labels. You have to be willing to make what you eat and what you feed your family a priority.

Transition slowly

As you transition into intuitive eating, the first step is to move away from artificial ingredients and towards natural, healthier foods. I would not recommend informing your macaroni and cheese loving family that from today, you’re all going on a green juice fast. I can pretty much guarantee that this will not go over well. There will be tears, and possibly even be bloodshed. Make the transition slowly. Begin to replace some of your normal meals with healthier choices. For example, there is a way to make a healthier version of macaroni and cheese (hint: it involves actual cheese that does not come in powder form). You can still serve pizza, just make it with natural ingredients (you can buy all natural bread dough and in some places, all natural ready-made pizza). Stop buying processed foods and begin making meals with actual vegetables. Read labels. Anything with more than 3 ingredients is probably not a natural food source. If there’s anything in there that you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize, stop buying it. Do this gradually, one food or meal at a time, and you won’t get overwhelmed.

More tips for making the transition with kids:

  • Present kids with a variety of choices. Serve family style meals when possible and let your children choose what they want to eat. They do not have to have a balanced meal at every meal (neither do you). If their nutrition balances out over a series of days, that’s fine. This will also take care of the problem of having to make more than one meal. Everyone takes what they want from the variety provided.
  • Allow mono-eating. Especially small children will do this. They may eat only protein one day, and then tons of veggies the next. Again, the nutrition will balance out over time and this is fine.
  • Let your children manage their own quantities. If they are old enough, teach them to take a serving and allow them to take more, if they want more. Don’t restrict their quantities (some days they’ll eat a lot) and don’t force them to clean their plate (some days they may barely eat.)
  • Let your children graze between meals. Nature never designed the human body to eat only 3 meals a day. The reason we do this is for convenience. Don’t “punish” your kids for not cleaning their plates by restricting foods between meals. Again, you can restrict their choices (so they don’t eat one spoonful of dinner only to grab a pile of candy), but never their ability to eat. This will teach them to eat when they’re hungry and not to eat when they don’t really want to.
  • Expose your kids to new foods periodically. Introduce some new foods here and there and ask your kids to try them. You don’t have to make a whole meal of new stuff; just add a bowl of some new food. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it. But you and they may be surprised at some of the new things they’ll come to love. Of course, this will necessitate that YOU also expose yourself to new foods here and there. I consider that a win-win. Your and their bodies cannot ask for a food that contains what they need if they’ve never experienced that food before. But again, do this periodically, and one food at a time. You don’t have to change your entire meal plan overnight.
  • While you shouldn’t insist that your kids eat things they don’t like, you can insist that they at least try new foods. They can take one bite, and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to have more.
  • Just as I advised that you take your lunch to work with you, make your kids’ lunches. The food served at school cafeterias is generally atrocious. Give your kids healthy foods that they like (even the pickiest of eaters will like some kind of fruit or vegetable).
  • If you have teenagers, it will be harder for you to control their food choices. All you can do is make sure that the fridge and pantry at your house are stocked with lots of healthy foods that they like to eat. So, when they come home from school famished, they’ll be able to satisfy that hunger with good choices. You can’t control what they do outside your home. Don’t even try. When your children notice that natural foods make them thinner, give them more energy for sports or see their acne clearing up, they’ll pay attention.
  • You don’t have to ban fast food completely. There’s a reason we have a liver and kidneys. If your children’s general diet is healthy, their bodies will easily be able to handle some candy or fast food. But perhaps a Happy Meal could be something special instead of an everyday thing.
  • Be an example. If your kids see you eating healthy foods and truly enjoying them, if they see you trying new foods and discovering new favorites, they’ll be much more apt to do the same, especially if there’s no pressure to eat anything they don’t like. This is a journey for both you and your kids. Let them find their way just as you will find yours. Don’t force anything to happen (they will push back).
  • Allow food to be just food. If you want to sit down together at mealtimes so that you can talk and connect, make sure that you don’t force your kids to eat in order to facilitate that. They can sit and talk and not eat. Food does not have to equal love, affection or connection.
  • Listen to your own intuition. You know your child better than anyone. While I don’t condone forcing a child to eat, sometimes kids are hungry, but get so excited about something that they won’t want to actually take the time to have a meal. If you make them sit down with food, however, their hunger will take over and they’ll chow down. So please don’t take anything in this post so seriously that you’ll let it override what you know is best for your child in any given moment.

None of this actually has to be hard. If you make changes slowly, prove to yourself one meal at a time that making healthier choices doesn’t have to take much more time out of your schedule than heating up processed foods, and that your children will accept the healthier choices, providing you allow them to find their way and present them with a variety of foods, eating intuitively can not only be totally doable, but an exciting journey. This is not a diet. This is not about denying yourself the foods you love. It’s about discovering the foods your body craves, nourishing yourself properly, finding out what it is to feel truly good (gas, indigestion and energy dips are not normal) and breaking out of the old rules that no longer serve you. Your kids will adapt to this way of eating faster than you will. They’ve had a lot less time to establish bad habits.

What are your experiences with intuitive eating? Have you tried to change to a healthier lifestyle before and failed? Why? What were your biggest obstacles? Did you find something that worked really well for you? Spill it in the comments y’all.

* = Ok, I lied. I will not, in fact, set that bitch straight. Your mother in law is one scary woman. I’m sorry, but you’re on your own.


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  • Hi Again Melody!

    For those who worry about their children and eating, trust them more than you think you can. My son was premature (3.7 lbs), lots of health problems bla, bla, bla. And we stressed so much about his eating since he was very small. We kept worrying and trying to get him to eat more so he would put on weight.

    Finally, a very smart doctor said, ‘Your child will NOT starve himself. When he’s hungry he’ll eat. Let him decide and pay attention. If something is truly wrong, you will know.’

    He was so right, in both respects. He never starved himself, and is now a healthy horse of a 16 year old boy! And when there were problems with his health, we did know. And to this day, he eats pretty damned good. And we rarely ever go the route of ‘eat it or else…’, which I hate to say we did with his much older half sisters. We hadn’t become enlightened yet…

    Lots of hugs to all who deal with children you can’t scrap and make anew… :-/

    • Wise doctor, indeed! 🙂

      It makes so much sense when you think of it, doesn’t it? No living thing, if given any kind of access to food, will starve to death. Not one. When children have suffer from malnutrition, it’s always because of lack of access to good food, not because they refused to eat.

      Thanks for adding your own experience here Nay! It’s always so valuable to hear from actual parents who are living this stuff. 🙂

      Huge hugs!

  • Hi Melody,

    I love slowly reading through all your older stuff by clicking on yet unfamiliar links.

    This stuff has never really been an issue for me. I was born only two years after World War Two and my parents had to turn over every cent at least ten times before spending it. So we were grateful for whatever food made its way onto the table at that time. My mother always bought fresh food on the market which was the cheapest but also the healthiest. Meat was too expensive really and we only got it on Sundays and then very little. Still I grew up healthy and happy, not having the idea that I missed out on anything. I ate everything my mother put on the table and loved it. In fact I must have been the most abnormal child ever as my favourite foods were Brussels sprouts and spinach (which every selfrespecting child is supposed to hate; why????) and I hated cake! Regarding food I was everything a normal child was even then not supposed to be. My father loved very sharp mustard, which my mother did not like at all, but I saw that and thought: that looks delicious. So I asked for it time and again but I did not get it. In the end my mom gave in and thought that I would be cured once I had tried it. So I did and I adored it. I never forget her face when she saw that. After that she stopped trying to control my tastes, as otherwise I never gave her any trouble foodwise.

    I myself have four kids, all grown up now, and with the experience of my childhood I never expected any problems in this field and never really got any. The processed foods did enter the scene but only occasionally and mostly I cooked fresh meals with at least two kinds of vegetables. If they did not like them, too bad, they would have to make do with the other stuff and they did.

    I think this whole ‘problem’ really is a luxury problem and at the same time it turned into a real problem because of all the processed foods nowadays that somehow or other became allowed. By the way, do you know that using a microwave is also very unhealthy? I saw a scientific explanation once which explained what really happens to the food and I only remember that it was awful enough for us to get rid of the microwave. Details I never remember, only the essence of things; that is how my memory works.

    And as far as the mother in law part (yea, you were talking to me too), I never ever tell my daughters in law, or my daughter for that matter, what to do or not to do in any area of life. I have also been a daughter in law, so I remember I did not like to be told by my mother in law what to do and I never did what she told me anyway so she very soon stopped trying.



    • That’s brilliant Anny!

      I grew up much the same way until I was 10. All the food was natural and McDonalds was a “treat” that we got a couple of times a year. Soda was something we drank only at a restaurant, which was very occasionally. We took our own lunch to school and meat was not on the daily menu. I was part of an after school program were they tried to force me to eat foods I didn’t like but I always rebelled.

      Then, we moved to the US and got exposed to school lunches and fast food on a regular basis. Peer pressure (the need to be cool) played a big part in what I ate at school. Already being the weird German kid made me unwilling to also be the weird “won’t eat school pizza” kid.

      So, I’ve seen both sides of that coin. I found my way back to eating naturally in my 20’s, when my health started to fail. My diet had a lot to do with that (or actually, my diet was mirroring my vibration).

      It sounds like you grew up with a really healthy diet, and you weren’t missing out on anything (why do we think we are missing out on carcinogenic filled food??)

      I didn’t have a microwave for a few years here in Spain, but then broke down and got one. I use it rarely, and I have read the studies about how unhealthy they are, but honestly, I don’t worry about it. You can find studies that say everything is unhealthy and while I don’t disagree that microwaved food probably isn’t great for us, and if you cook primarily with the microwave it could be quite detrimental, it always comes down to vibration in the end. There are many tings that I don’t worry about. I don’t worry about pesticides. I wash my veggies but I eat the peel of almost everything. And I feel good about it. I don’t worry about eating cooked food when I want to. I don’t worry about going out into the sun (I don’t overdo it, but I actually feel better when I get regular sunlight). I don’t worry about drinking the occasional glass of alcohol (ok, very occasional, like a couple of times a year, but when I drink a glass of champagne, I enjoy the hell out of it).

      Of course, if I did worry about those things, I’d stop doing them. But I don’t. I think it’s all about the balance and the disposition. If using the microwave gave me the heebie geebies, I’d get rid of it. I don’t use it very often, but when I do, I don’t give it a second thought.

      Huge hugs!

      • Hi Melody,

        If you only use the microwave occasionally, I’m sure it will not hurt you. In our case however, our kids who were still at home then tended to pop something into it every day when they got themselves some food. But I agree with you, if you do not worry about something being bad for you it probably won’t be. I do it very much the way you do. I never peel my apples etc. but I do wash them.

        I also go out into the sun if we happen to get any, but while I lived in Israel I learned that it was foolish to go sunbathing at midday in the summer or to walk around in the sun with a bare head all day.

        Schoollunches never were a problem. We just never had lunch in school while in primary school, we always went home during lunchbreak. That was in the time when moms did not have a job and stayed home to take care of the kids as a rule. When I attended grammar school I just brought my lunch from home and so did everybody else. You could buy something to drink but that was that.

        What part of Germany did you grow up in? My husband and I have been spending our holidays mostly in the South of Germany, at least when there is not anybody getting married in Vietnam or anywhere else on the globe. I love the country and I often watch German television to get to know more about the different parts of it and to learn to understand the language better. By now I even more or less understand the dialect of Baden Württemberg and Bayern but also that of the north. It is kind of funny that friends or ours in the south of Germany do not understand it at all and my husband and I do. It is more like Dutch than like Hochdeutsch (how do you say that in English?) sometimes. Have you ever thought of moving back to Germany?



        • Hey Anny,

          I grew up in Augsburg and we’re Bavarians. 🙂

          I did go back to Germany for 2.5 years in 1999. I worked as a technical sales rep and sold fiber optic network components. It was fun for a while and when it wasn’t anymore, I left. Germany has a lot of wonderful qualities and I love visiting. But ultimately, it’s not a great match for how I want to live (the weather, for one…). I lived in Hessen for quite some time, and I had a very hard time understanding them (the people from the country, not the city) when I got there. The dialects aren’t just accents, it’s almost a different language… 🙂

          Huge hugs!

          • Hi Melody,

            I know the problem with dialects. I am a city girl from the west of Holland but after my marriage and our stay in Israel I ended up in the country in the east where the language is unintelligible at first to outsiders. I still do not speak it but I do understand it by now which is just as well as some of my in laws do not really speak Dutch very well. Our neighbours on the other side of the border speak almost the same dialect as the people over here. We live only just over 10 km from the German border so we quite often go there.

            So you are from the deeply religious south. How did you feel about all these crosses everywhere or do they not do that in the big city? They kind of appeal to me and appal me at the same time. That is probably because I still have something with Jesus but not with this fixation on the oldfashioned meaning of the crucifixion.



          • I grew up going to Catholic girl’s school with nuns and everything. It did give me something to push against, that’s for sure. I wrote about that in the following post: How I Finally Made My Peace With Religion.

            Now, I really don’t even see the crosses most of the time. I find old churches beautiful for their architecture and I enjoy the energy that many of them have, but I truly no longer push against religious stuff. That did take some doing and quite a few years, though… 🙂

            Huge hugs!

  • Whenever I have anemia, I know it because the liquid iron supplement is suddenly completely delicious HEAVEN – instead of the AWFUL ICKY taste of rusty nails!

    We really do have a sense of what it is we need. I craved pizza for 3 days, tried to deny myself because I had a slightly sore throat and thought that cheesy greasy fat would be bad for it. Well, I caved and got the pizza, and suddenly the sore throat was gone. Now I wish I’d thought to buy natural ingredients and make a homemade one! OM NOM!

    • Hi Leiralei,

      Welcome to Deliberate Receiving! It’s amazing how our taste buds support our body’s needs, isn’t it? I love the perfection of the design. 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing your own experience with everyone.

      Huge hugs,

  • Hi Melody,

    Interesting reading! I consider myself pretty lucky because my kids (twin boys of 6 and daughter of 9) eat fairly well. One twin likes his veggies cooked, whereas the other wants his veggies raw. So…that’s what we do: come meals we have cooked potatos, greenbeans etc and at other times we have raw tomatos and cucumbers etc. All 3 like meat and fish, and I have without any problems introducted wholeweat bread and brown rice, so I think we are pretty OK on the diversity – could ofcourse be better, but I’m OK with the progress so far.

    …BUT…and here is where I get in trouble 🙂 …what do I do when we they go ran-sacking the fridge while I’m cooking dinner, because they simply CAN’T wait 5 more minutes without dying? Do I let them, and then through away half a meal because they are nolonger hungry, or do I insist that they “drop-the-banana” they just snitched, because I desided that they should eat flounder?

    Or…when they don’t want to finish the meal because they are “full”, and then 30 min. later are hungry?

    So….what to do? I want to respect their chose, and know that they eat and burn the food very differently, but it anoyes the s*** out of me spending time and money and then having to through away good food. And making a guilt-trip out of a poor fish being killed, for them to have food on the table, only to end up in the waste-bin…welll….I’be done that 🙁 , but really do not like to coherse them into eating.

    They see me eating more in line with my needs – I’m not there yet – but they comment and what to try. So I’d like to expand the concept to them as well, but am a bit at a loss as to how.

    🙂 Marianne

    • Hey Marianne,

      It sounds to me like you’re doing a great job. I will have to use my sister as an example here, because she’s doing a great job with the intuitive eating thing and I don’t have kids.

      Ok, if dinner is in 5 minutes, you have a couple of options: Give them ONE bite of something, not a whole banana, just one morsel or a drink. This will calm their stomachs for a few minutes. Or, make them wait. They will not starve if they wait 5 minutes and it’s ok for them to learn that. This is not the same as if you won’t allow them to eat 2 hours before dinner because then they won’t be good and hungry.

      If they are full at dinner, don’t force them to eat more. You can wrap up the food though and then let them eat more later. Just microwave it a bit or let them eat it cold (a lot of food can be eaten cold. Let them decide if it needs to be heated). The 9 year old is big enough to shove a plate in the microwave. You don’t have to throw the food away if they don’t eat it. Fresh food can be used up the next day for lunch (by you or the kids). If you serve the food family style and teach them to take only as much as they need (they can always take more), then the fish won’t have been mixed in with other food and will be easier to eat later. You can make a salad out of the leftovers (Tuna’s not the only thing you can mix with mayo) and put it on a sandwich or stuff it into a tomato. Or you can lightly steam it to reheat and it should still be fine.

      I see my sister do this all the time. She puts leftovers (in separate containers and not contaminated because it was all served family style instead of plated up) into the fridge and her kids will just go into it between meals and grab what they want (or ask for it if they can’t fix it themselves). She also made minimal protein and more veggies. Leftover veggies can be dumped into a big salad…

      You kind of have to get creative and essentially, take some tips from the way our grandmothers cooked. Those ladies knew how to use leftovers… 🙂


  • This is a great and informative series, Melody. I love watching kids eat because they are simply doing what comes natural. When they’ve had enough birthday cake, they stop eating! Wow – what a concept! Until the world voice takes over, the intuitive voice of our Authentic Self comes through loud and clear. This is an especially empowering series because the Counterfeit Self can make what is pleasurable and natural into a guilt ridden, dramatic ordeal (eating in this case). When we deny the Counterfeit Self any existence in our reality, we replace self-reproach with self-approval.

    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks so much for adding your wisdom here. Food has so much guilt and stress attached to it, but it was never meant to. Food is just fuel, but it is also a source of considerable pleasure. What people don’t realize is that it can easily be both, without all those nasty associations attached to it. We can be free from food and still really enjoy it. Actually, the enjoyment grows as we release all those limiting beliefs…

      Huge hugs to you,


  • insightful post Melody! (Not that all of yours aren’t) 🙂 I am curious about
    “healthy meals from scratch in the same amount of time that it takes you to heat up a processed meal.” – I’m revamping my dinners and am pretty challenged finding meals to make in less than 45 minutes – unless its the somewhat pre-made stuff. That’s my current challenge 🙂 I love the idea of intuitive eating

    • Hi Aileen,

      Thanks so much for your kind words, lady.
      Ok, I’ll stay away from the raw stuff, as most people aren’t raw, and that’s a chapter all on its own. I’m a big proponent of the Mediterranean way of eating: food is kept natural, simple, sauteed with a bit of high quality olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and MAYBE a few other spices. The key is the quality of the veggies. If they’re high, you don’t need to MAKE them taste good. They just do. I like to actually taste my food.
      So, grilling up a few veggies (and/or adding some chicken cubes, shrimp, beef slices, whatever) in a pan takes about 15-20 minutes. I like to get a bit of color on mine, so I cook them fairly hot. You can create all kinds of variations from that one theme alone. Add some pasta. Or steamed rice. Use soy sauce and toasted sesame oil instead of the sea salt and olive oil, a dash of sesame seeds and some ginger to make an Asian version. The veggies should still be front and center. In the winter, you can make an almost fat free potato soup. Experiment with different veggies. Make your own hummus or refried beans. Find some all natural chips (I just found some blue corn chips in the US that were delicious and were high quality and all natural), add some salad, tomato, etc and make a meatless taco salad (or look up how to make a taco seasoning from scratch – basically cumin and a few other spices and season your own beef). Mexican restaurants, BTW are a great source of food made from scratch. NOT the Tex mex variety, though. You have to go for the real deal. These are just some suggestions.

      I realize that this is going to be a huge factor for people, so I’m looking into creating a Membership site for when Deliberately Thin comes out (January 2012) so I have a place to share recipes and tips (and others can, too). I love the idea of that…


  • Hi Melody,

    I got a good laugh about your comment of scrapping the kid and making a better one from scratch. Well, the idea is a good one at least the part about “making” a new one. 🙂

    Anyway, I got 3 kids myself, 2 boys ages 7 and 12 and my baby girl who is almost 2. So I definitely know the nightmare of trying to get them all to eat what I make. I never get worried when they don’t eat their meal because their bodies will let them know when to eat. It’s all about limiting their choices, just like you said. The other day my 7 year old was asking for something to eat as a snack and I was offering suggestions when he said he wanted a banana. Yep, I about fell over from shock that he wanted something healthy instead of junk food.

    • Hey Todd!
      Exactly!!! Thank you for adding your own experience here. We put WAY too much emphasis on food. The stress we feel around it is in no small part due to the stress that our parents felt around it and passed on to us. If we don’t make such a big deal about food, it becomes just that: fuel for our bodies. Delicious fuel. 😉


  • This is right on! My ex and my youngest daughter have waged a battle over food for at least five years. And the more he tries to control her food amounts and choices, the more she shows him that he isn’t the one in control. I have found that a lot of parents express their own issues with food through their kids, and that is probably what is going on between my daughter and her dad.

    At my house both my daughters are completely different than they are at their dad’s. Food isn’t a battle, and they generally like what I cook. My youngest daughter still likes to be in control, so I let her. She will leave her dinner on the table all night and nibble at it here and there. She eats her veggies and the other things on her plate, but it takes a while. And that’s ok by me.

    • Hi Emilia,

      Sounds like your daughter is trying to teach your ex a lesson he doesn’t want to learn easily. It’s great that your kids are experiencing freedom around food at your house. That will be enough to teach them to feel good and relaxed about food. You don’t have to worry that your ex will completely screw them up. They’re getting their lessons from you, too. 🙂 Your child knows what her body needs and I love that you give her the freedom to follow through with that. And in this case, it also provides the balance she needs to combat the fights with dad…

      Huge hugs to you and your little ones,

  • Melody,

    Interesting, interesting…still need you to come over to speak to my seven year old 🙂 We think the vegan nanny whispered something in his ear when he was an infant, because the child will not eat meat. We do follow the “get it in over a few days time” theory and now I am at the point where I am going to start refusing to make a second meal just for him as he is old enough to put PB&J on pumpernickel bread all by his own self 🙂 I try to shop on the outskirts of the store, as that is where most of the healthy and natural comes from, and less in the Taskycake aisle. I’m also big on having the kids “help” me cook and bake – at least that way they learn how to do it, but so far it hasn’t helped the picky one to try what he made.

    • Tell you what Julie. Send your 7 year old to Barcelona, and I’ll have a talk with him. Only, I’m actually on his side (sorry!). We don’t have to eat meat to be healthy, and what’s so interesting is that more and more kids these days are being born vegetarian or even vegan. I spoke with a mom recently that used to try and hide meat in her child’s food because she was convinced that he needed it. The toddler would pick out the meat and eat the rest. Finally, she went to a nutritionist who assured her that meat was in no way necessary. You can make some raw protein choices available to your kid so you don’t have to cook extra meals (like avocado, or sprouted lentils which are really easy to make and keep in the fridge). You don’t have to make a whole extra meal, just have something in the fridge he can eat, and he’ll serve himself when he needs it. It sounds like your son knows exactly what’s good for him. 🙂 And getting your kids involved in the process is brilliant. From what you’ve told me about this boy, there’s no way you could force him to eat anything he doesn’t want anyway and before long he’ll be coming up with recipes on his own. Send me a copy of his cookbook when it comes out, will you? 😉


  • Interesting article, Melody. Thanks!

    My kids are now 32 and 35, but when they were little I got some great advice from our MD. He told me that kids can live on a slice of bread a day, and not to sweat about feeding them. Without pressure, we ate pretty well. Not perfectly, I remember a few episodes of pizza pops. Now as adults they are healthy, food conscious, and adventurous eaters.

    Ironically, when I became a single parent, this part was easier for me, no longer having a traditional-thinking husband to cook for (or dial out, or pick up something on the way home…). Of necessity, my kids learned to cook fairly young and they still enjoy it.

    Another tip I picked up somewhere along the way — if you want dessert, breakfast is probably the healthiest time to eat it. Savor the guilty pleasure of eating birthday cake for breakfast the day after the party! And you have all day to burn off the sugar.

    Thanks again for your always-interesting blog! Hugs to all,

    Mary Carol

    • Hi Mary Carol,

      You’ve made a really interesting point – what if your spouse refuses to eat healthy? I still say you can gradually change to healthier options. But if someone is so dead set against a little improvement (we’re not talking about switching from Hamburger to sprouts here, but maybe first BETTER beef and real cheese and healthy bread, etc…), then maybe there are other differences that need to be addressed, as well. Just saying…

      What a great tip! Dessert for breakfast! I love it. I do want to point out that once you really move into healthy foods, dessert doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure at all. I eat some delicious chocolate concoctions and they are actually good for me. Imagine that. No guilt, no thunder thighs, just pleasure. Totally doable, after a bit of transition.


      • Not wanting to bad mouth him, my ex didn’t really refuse – he just liked his junk. But it was easier after we separated, and as you noted for sure the differences went deeper than food. Interesting point… All this happened 30 years ago, and I had never thought of food choice as a signal. Hmmm.

        Chocolate is wonderful! I make a weekly batch of brownies based on sweet potatoes and ground almonds (left over from making almond milk) — no sugar, no flour, nothing unhealthy. Yum!

  • Hi, Melody!
    Loved your post. I am a “fresh” mum, as of September 20th, so my baby still doesn’t eat solid food…but when he does, I will make sure to remember your article here. Some points you rose here are well thought off. However, many mothers would not agree with you saying that parents should not force their kids to eat. Having a child that has its full stomach is a mum’s biggest concern. So, most of mums will always force their kids to eat, just to make sure they are well fed.
    I, myself, never had problems switching to healthier lifestyles. It is easy for me to adapt to anything that is good.:) Including veggies.:)

    • Hi Kristina,

      Congrats on the baby!!!! Yay! Another new little human (with superpowers).

      Yeah, I know that there are still a lot of mothers out there that will not believe what I’ve written here, and that’s ok. But for those that are ready, here’s another analogy: You don’t have to force your dog to eat, either. What animal or human would starve, given they have access to food? None. But the good news is that I’m seeing more and more parents who are letting their kids determine the portions and what they want to eat (from the selection provided) and it works beautifully. 🙂


  • Hey Melody, great article.

    I like what you said about the people who market artificial foods and such. Even though they paint a picture that it takes tons of time to cook a natural, home-cooked meal, as you said, it doesn’t! It often takes a little longer than heating up microwaved milk, but it is a lot better and is of course a much better choice.

    I don’t plan on having kids anytime soon (or ever) but allowing them to choose from a healthy selection seems like the best idea. If they are forced to do something, chances are they will revolt against it. So don’t force them to eat veggies!

    I wonder how that one would turn out…

    Actually, someone should try some reverse psychology and force them to eat sweets. E

    • You’re not going to believe this Fred (ok, YOU totally will), but I’ve seen that in action. Two intuitive eating kids I know were fed pizza too many times and actually begged not to have pizza anymore. They just didn’t want it. Kids catch on to this stuff faster than we do. 🙂


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