I’ve read about this topic of limiting or not limiting certain kinds of foods on many different lists and boards over the years. Should parents limit foods that are sweet, artificial, junk foods, foods with colouring…
Those who subscribe to an unschooling philosophy, such as myself look to follow their child’s lead when it comes to most things. The belief that our children will know best when and what they are ready to learn and are able to self regulate within the spectrum the child’s life experience.
That leads me to believe that sometimes toxic and unnatural or processed foods should be limited all or part of the time. I mainly limit these foods by not buying them. I want my child to feel empowered by choice so all the food I buy I’m usually content with her to eating any time. No power struggle and we all eat delicious and healthy food.
It’s not for a lack of trust or need to control that I believe that my child can’t make good choices about some of these “foods”. It’s the fact that some foods are drug like and addictive (processed sugar) and some aren’t even food at all (food colouring). It’s hard to explain that something like food colouring is actually a coal tar product and have the significance of that fact hit home with a five year old.
When we are out it can often be hard to explain to people that I’d rather we didn’t eat these things. Many people already think I’m a weirdo simply because I don’t shave my legs but my husband shaves his! (Ha. He rides a bike for a living.) My daughter has been given countless coupons for slurpees that she will never redeem. So many that she only knows them as “coupon drinks”. It can be awkward when someone tries to give my daughter a handful of smartie treats without checking first. Until recently, I would take the stance that in moderation it’s not a big deal. Just don’t buy them but if they’re offered it’s okay. I’m learning quickly that eating even a few of these “treats” can have disastrous effects. My daughter’s belly gets sore and she reacts with out of character difficult behaviour.
These reactions are not unique and sometimes hard to understand for my daughter why it’s happening. It’s even harder to explain to mainstream public that we’re not just being picky or hard to deal with. These foods literally don’t sit well.
This isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with a type of radical unschooling that can often seem like a child centered free-for-all. I absolutely believe that our children can flow through the natural world with their own innate sense of discrimination and discovery. However, when they are confronted with artificial circumstances and materials it takes a more experienced perspective to make healthy choices.