Mariana and Juan’s Story: A Simple Change

I was attending a Suppers meeting where the theme was nutritional harm reduction. At this particular meeting, the menu is typically “paleo”, meaning all whole food and no gluten grains or dairy. We were asked to reimagine our relationship with food and consider small changes we could implement to eat in a healthier way. 

I’m the mother of a four-year old son. Juan has excellent eating habits, but I did notice that since the holidays, he’s been obsessed with sugar. Just a few weeks of having more chocolate and sugar than we usually allow changed his taste buds. This was a little concerning; Juan isn’t a big eater. And while he does choose fruits and vegetables, I want to be sure that most of what he does eat is healthy, natural food.

A lot of what do at Suppers is oriented to making more conscious choices. Food is medicine, right? I love how we discuss strategies we can take home and implement with our families. It’s good to hear how others cope with the parenting challenges, like dealing with the heightened interest in chocolate and sugar when the holidays have messed around with our desires.

It was helpful to hear and be reminded of simple ways to have a clean diet and nutritionally sound pantry. We all experience occasional drift, allowing quick foods back onto the plate when we’re busy or extending the sweet-eating beyond the holiday. One of the nutritional harm reduction tips was to put fruit within reach of our child. He knows what we have in the fridge, but he can’t access them.

It never occurred to me to put the fruit where he could see it.

The simple act of moving the fruit bowl closer to his reach resulted immediately in his eating more fruit. Was it the visual trigger? Was he pleased with his new sense of autonomy? I don’t know, but now he’s even eating more fruit from his packed lunch at school. Instead of me asking him if he wants a particular snack, he decides what to have and fetches it himself.

Whatever Juan eats at home is fine with me; most of the food is healthy. However, I realize developmentally he is at an age where he wants to have more autonomy and moving the fruit bowl was genius!