Eating habits. Not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Stay with me here for a minute as I explain.
At least three values are associated with MLK Day and they all have implications for eating habits.
In the social world, justice means that everyone has equal access to opportunities. In this sense, justice means “equal.”
But justice can also mean that people get what they deserve, or what they’re owed. In this sense, justice means “different things for different people.”
When it comes to eating habits, we tend to teach young children that fair (or justice) means equal. If I give Sam a donut, I give Susie a donut too. But what if Susie just came in from a birthday party? Many parents would nix the idea of a donut for Susie, which makes sense. They’d also nix the idea of a donut for Sam too. But is that fair?
Learning to eat what’s right for your body at any given time is a pretty important life lesson. For more on this, read The Problem with “It’s Not Fair.”
In the social world we think of inclusion as making sure no one is left out or discriminated against. On MLK Day, schools teach that we’re all different in some ways and we’re all the same in some ways.
Have you heard the poem The Crayon Box That Talked? The crayons don’t like each other but after being used to draw a picture they realize, “We are a box of crayons, each one of us unique. But when we get together the picture is complete.” Check out this cute video of the poem.
So let’s talk similarities and differences. If you’re teaching your kids to be Super Food Explorers (you are, aren’t you?), this is a good exercise. Take any two foods, an apple and a banana, an apple and a donut, an apple and a piece of chicken. Identify similarities/differences in terms of appearance, aroma, texture, temperature, sound, taste. Learn more about the Super Food Explorer Kit.
Compassion comes in many forms when thinking about eating habits. We want to teach children that it’s ok to be different. This matters when other children are eating different, perhaps foreign foods. Chicken curry? No teasing allowed. But many times, it’s challenging for children to eat a healthy diet because their friends are eating Doritos. Read about the school supply I called, Being Different Proficiency Pack.
But compassion is important in another way. It can be pretty frustrating teaching children good eating habits. It’s important to remember that all children would eat the right way if they could. Picky eaters, for example, aren’t being picky on purpose. So you’re kids need compassion. Read The Secret to Successful New – 2018.
And, of course, parents need some compassion too. Give yourself a break. Read I understand why parents feed their kids unhealthy foods and then read Eating, Seen Through Your Child’s Eyes. They should make you feel better.
Happy MLK Day — and beyond.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~