Yes, My Son Ate a Donut

October 26, 2012 | | Bites for Big Kids, Food for Tot, Honest Moms | 4 Comments

I was recently at my favorite coffee place (which also happens to sell donuts) with my toddler son. As I ordered my latte, the nice woman who was waiting on me chatted kindly with my little guy. When my latte was brewed, the woman handed it to me and offered my son a munchkin donut. She didn’t ask me if it was ok, and we hadn’t ordered it, but she was trying to be nice and so I didn’t stop her as she placed it in his hand. His eyes lit up immediately and he even volunteered a “thank you” without prompting from me! This was his first introduction into the world of donuts and clearly he thought it was a delicious experience.

Later in the day I was relaying this story to a co-worker who was openly shocked that I’d allowed my son to eat a donut. Really. She couldn’t believe that a dietitian would think it ok for her son to eat something so “bad.” Hmm. Now this isn’t the first time a person has made this type of comment to me and it certainly won’t be the last. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Left on my own, I probably wouldn’t have given him a donut. Not because I’m a dietitian (a.k.a. the food police as many believe), but simply because I go to this coffee store OFTEN with my son in tow and really, I don’t feel like having a battle every time we are there about whether or not he can have a donut. Even at 2.5 years old, he is aware that some foods are “all the time” foods (fruit, milk, veggies, breads, yogurt, etc…) and others are “sometimes” foods (ice cream, cookies…). However, this doesn’t stop him from asking for “sometimes foods” on a usual basis. Can’t blame the kid for trying, right? Which brings me back to my reasoning for avoiding the whole donut situation to begin with.  My intent was not to keep donuts away but to keep the list of “sometimes” foods on the shorter side for the time being. If for no other reason than my own personal sanity.  

The truth is that kids need to be exposed to all types of things in order to develop a healthy relationship with food. If certain foods are dubbed “good” while others are “bad,” then children grow to learn that they are “good” or “bad” for eating them. Clearly there can be distinctions between “all the time” and “sometimes” foods however none are “bad” or “good.” Realistically, I think it would probably have made a more lasting (and unhealthy) impression on Aidan if I’d made a big deal of denying him the munchkin as it was offered by the nice woman. It’s not a piece of kryptonite.

As parents, it does become our job to control the frequency with which certain foods are offered and to help our kids understand how good nutrition can impact their growing bodies. And if that makes me the food police, so be it.  

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  • Bnchinds1

    I encourage my kids to practice saying “no thank you” since this kind of thing happens on a regular basis.

  • Aaron Flores, RD

    A very honest post and as a fellow dietitian/parent, I completely understand. I  find Ellyn Satter’s books very helpful on this topic.

  • Rebecca Horsman, RD

    Love it! I am also a dietitian and Mom, and I’m always surprised when people assume I would never allow my kids any treats, or that I would never have any myself. The people with the healthiest relationships with food are the ones who can really enjoy a wide variety, including “treats”, and know when to stop. That’s how I want my kids to grow up.

  • Amelia Ryan Sherry

    Leslie, Great post! And great distinction that you make! Telling kids NOT to eat certain things or putting the completely off-limits is a futile, and proven unhealthy, battle. I believe that there’s research that shows kids who are completely restricted from certain ‘bad’ foods go through a backlash type of behavior when they are out on their own (inevitable) and exposed to them. Much, much better to help children navigate the food world we live in by teaching them that certain, less healthy, indulgences are okay once-in-a-while. After all, that’s how we (as adults) eat!