1. Just because I cooked it, does not mean you have to eat it. (and vice versa)
I grew up in a house where the opposite of this was a hard and fast rule. As a result I spent a great many meals forcing down food I didn’t like. The end result of this was not that I grew to have a varied and sophisticated pallet but instead, what I was left with was a long lasting dislike of food. I view a meal as something to be gotten through or dealt with and it holds no enjoyment for me at all.
I am the opposite of an emotional eater.
In fact, food in general just pisses me off and stresses me out. It carries expectations and emotional land mines. I’m aggravated that I have to source it, pay for it, and hand it out. I get angry when dealing with it pulls me away from something I’d rather be doing. Food is a necessary evil.
Eat what you want.
2. We do not all have to sit down at the table together to eat it.
Mostly I eat standing up in order to quickly get it over with. I don’t expect others to do that. So by all means eat when and where you want but please do not expect me to stop what I’m doing three times a day and feed you or eat with you. Eat when you’re hungry, get it yourself. I have a great big table, it seats 8 but don’t look for me.
Caveat – I make the kids eat at the table still though, mainly for cleaning up purposes. They are messy eaters and I require them to clean up their mess when they are done. This is easiest for everyone if it’s all contained around the kitchen table and chairs. They are not however required to maintain a three meals a day routine. Surprisingly due to social norms and school routines and probably a little healthy rebellion, they prefer to, therefore I do my best to make sure they have the time and opportunity to do it.
3. We don’t eat junk.
You might expect that given the two above rules, my kids live off waffles and french fries. They do not. It’s pretty simple really – if you don’t buy waffles and french fries, no one eats them.
We buy healthy food and therefore they eat healthy food.
Is there an occasional pizza? Sure. But it’s not a regular thing. Mostly they eat vegetables, pasta, cheeses, fruit, and chicken or pork. I’m not a big beef eater with the exception of having a requirement of ground beef in my spaghetti sauce. As a result they gravitate towards the same.
Since we live in Florida – it was inevitable they discovered seafood. I’m not a fan personally but they are, especially the young one. She loves her some shrimp. I make sure she has a regular selection of seafood as well.
My children have a very healthy diet and zero weight issues. While genetics play a pretty good role in this – it’s also due to the fact that they don’t sit around eating bags of chips and gallons of ice cream. It’s not rocket science.
4. The older you get, the more you learn to feed yourself.
Do I expect my 8 year old to make her own dinner, of course not. But I do expect my 12 year old to take care of her own breakfast and lunch. And she’s been learning to cook since she was around 10. Now 2 years later there’s not that much that she can’t safely make herself. She is not expected to cook dinner, but she is allowed to if she wants.
As I see it, it’s my job to prepare her to be able to take care of herself. This includes cooking for herself. As a result she has a much healthier and normal relationship with food than I do. She’s a scientist at heart and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen. She determines her own food agenda.
5. Make your own plate with a reasonable amount of food for someone your size. Adults eat more than kids because they are bigger. Teenagers eat like bottomless pits – pile it on. Everyone’s plates of food should not look the same – adjust to what is appropriate to you.
Since mostly I feed two little girls, this doesn’t come up often. But when family or friends visit, this rule comes into play. We eat what will fill us up. If you need more, then serve yourself more. If you don’t need as much then don’t put it on your plate. Simple.
This rule gets me some looks sometime. When I give my kids the appropriate portion for a person their size. They are smallish girls who don’t need 5 pounds of food to fill up. I’m always surprised when people give adult portions of food to children.
6. We don’t eat from the bag/box/carton/packaging.
Get a plate, a bowl, or a cup. We may not all sit around for family dinners but we do have manners. If you want some popcorn fine, make it and put a single serving in a bowl to crunch on – don’t sit there an eat from the bag like a horse from a feed bag.
7. Children don’t drink soda.
They just don’t. Water, milk, juice, Gatorade, I’ve got it all. Any soda brought into this house if solely for adult purposes.
So what are the food rules at your house?