Children are born intuitive eaters in a society where diet culture dominates. Parents are concerned about how to best feed their children, and nearly everyone is offering solutions on how to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. But these solutions miss the most important thing: a healthy relationship with food.
The absence of this healthy relationship can lead to disastrous consequences: weight cycling, low self-esteem and eating disorders can result from this fear-based approach to food that has become the norm for us all.
How to Raise an Intuitive Eater is a compassionate guide for parents to help improve the health, happiness and wellbeing of their children. Based on their experiences working with parents and children, Sumner Brooks and Amee Severson understand that parents want their kids to live their best lives in the bodies they were born to have.
Dieticians Brooks and Severson take on "diet culture's unrealistic ideals" in this cogent argument for allowing a child to determine his or her eating habits. Teaching children to "respect their unique body in a world that wants us to self-loathe" is crucial, the authors write, and they caution parents against using food as a reward or punishment, because it can lead to children having a conflict-filled relationship with food. Brooks and Severson's plan consists of countering diet culture (by encouraging self-compassion), letting go of the myth of perfect parenting (mess-ups are learning opportunities), and embracing a holistic view of health (which involves managing stress). They recommend a flexible eating routine that takes into consideration kids' preferences, and suggest helpful exercises, such as creating "lunch box cards" for kids to give to adults with an explanation of the family's approach to food, or drafting a statement to remind parents why they've chosen to raise intuitive eaters. The authors tend to drive home the same points many times over, but they aren't short on encouragement. Parents looking to get their kids' eating habits off to a positive start will find this a useful resource.