Like all mothers, I want my daughter to have a happy and healthy relationship with food.

Forget new earrings. New boots. Or any of the other gifts my daughter would like to receive! The gift I really want to give my daughter is a happy and healthy relationship with food. (A small birdie tells me she’ll get something she can wear too.)

The goal of teaching my daughter to be happy and healthy with food is what led me to this career. Goodbye criminology, hello eating habits!  Recently, I sat down to consider what I really wanted my daughter to learn about food. I made the list you see below. Feel free to download it if it resonates with you.

Today of all days, people are thinking about gifts.

If I could give a gift to every parent I’ve ever met, to every parent who struggles with kids over eating, to every parent who feels a little like a failure, my gift would be the mindshift from nutrition to habits. The knowledge that this feeding-thing isn’t really about the food, it’s about shaping behavior. That I understand why parents sometimes feed their kids unhealthy food. That wherever your kids are on the feeding/eating spectrum, the situation is salvageable.

I’d also give this gift…

Vegetable consumption is not the most important eating habit kids need to learn.

When it comes to teaching kids healthy eating habits, it’s easy to get caught up in the tornado that is vegetable consumption.  All to often, that tornado produces unhappy parents and unhappy kids. I am here to tell you, don’t get sucked in and torn down by that storm.

If you’ve been reading INAN for even a nanosecond you probably know my thoughts on this. Sometimes, pushing kids to eat vegetables can lead to bad eating habits. But focus on teaching kids the right eating habits instead, and the vegetable-consumption comes along for the ride.

Pressure to increase the volume of vegetables that kids consume is enough to make many parents run for the storm shelter. But I’m here to say that increasing vegetable consumption is NOT the most important eating habit kids need to learn.

Let this tornado pass you by.

Take a look at the gifts I want to give my daughter. Only one of the ten gifts directly mentions vegetables.

In combination, though, all 10 will produce a vegetable eater. And a happy vegetable eater at that.

That’s my gift to my daughter, and this is my gift to you.

Happy Holidays.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~