Monday, June 7, 2010


I've decided to stop feeding my kids.

Now before you get all twitchy about this, and go calling Child Protection Services, hear me out.

I'm not saying I'm going to stop cooking for my kids.  Not saying I'm going to stop shopping for nutritious food for our house. (And miss a trip to Trader Joes?  Fuggeddabouddit.)

I'm just not going to feed them. I'm not going to have the discussions at every meal about how many more bites count as 'done.'  I'm not going to insist that they eat carrots AND tomatoes.  I'm not going to serve up pasta with the sauce and noodles separated.  I'm definitely not buying special snacks that I know they'll eat so that they "have something to get them through."

Maybe they will feel exhausted by 10am without any breakfast on board. Maybe they will feel the pinch of the looooooong stretch between lunch and supper without snacks. Maybe they'll go to bed hungry.

I am constantly reminding my kids to be so grateful for the food on their table (even whilst assiduously avoiding the time-honored "starving children in Africa" Mom Speech.)  I can sermonize all I want about how kids in our country, in our town, maybe even our neighborhood lack the resources to get food three times a day, never mind snacks. But do they ever hear it?  Do they ever wonder what it might be like to live hungry?

My own crazy little theory is that it might not be the worst thing in the world to know what hungry is.   It might be the best illustration of all, to know the feeling of your stomach trying to eat itself. Knowing EMPTY.

I think all of us could do with a little bit of Empty in our lives, one way or another.   Whether it is the pain of an empty belly, the twitchy silence of a room empty of media noise, the unsettled feeling that comes with an empty shopping cart in Target - we could all do with a little Empty in our lives.

The inspiration for this post came from the prompt of Emptiness at the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival.  A week later, I'm not sure it counts as part of the carnival, but I wanted to give credit where credit was due. :) 


LoveFeast Table said...

amen sista!
It's not a bad thing to feel hunger or disappointment or sadness or emptiness. I think we've gotten to good in this country and making sure we have everything we ever need...there's no room left for what or who we really do need.

Cheryl said...

We stopped the special request feedings awhile ago. Especially when the daughter said she didn't want PASTA, she wanted mac 'n cheese. HELLO!

kirsten said...

what's *really* annoying to me is that we've never been a special-request house, and the kids are generally good eaters. It's just one of those things you slide into without realizing, and I lay ALL THE BLAME at the feet of a really noisy & complaining 2yo.

Aging Mommy said...

I have struggled for the longest time to get my daughter to eat a better variety of foods and wrote about it a while ago. At the same time I agree, there is nothing to be gained from trying to persuade your child to eat, therein lies the road to a battleground over food which is frustrating for you and long term potentially damaging I think to your child as I think food issues can begin with this. (Just my own theory). So I try and do a mix of giving my daughter the things she will eat and at other meals serving something different and if she eats it good, if not, then she does not get anything else. But it is hard to stick to some days! I was the same as a child, I did not eat any food until I was two and then very few things until I started school - then being presented with no choices and seeing other children eating I started gradually to make progress.

I see you have the Jamie Oliver button on your blog, I have voted but want to get that button on my blog too, so I need to go and find it. I think it is essential to get back to serving proper non-processed foods to our children in school.

Jen C said...

Okay how can you be having trouble? We use the Nilsen kids as models for our children.

I can't tell you how many times Dave has said, "And look at the Nilsen kids. They eat all their veggies!"

What hope is there for me now?! AAaahhh!

Oh and we're implementing this too. That and no snacking. Because my boy would live on pretzels and yogurt if he could.

hezro said...

You're preaching to the choir! :) We're definitely NOT a special request home...which is a good thing because otherwise I'd be cooking different meals for each of them every day - including my husband. *sigh* They're all welcome to eat what I've prepared or skip it but a) there's no more food until the next meal and b) if there happens to be a dessert and you want some, then eat at least one sampling of everything you were presented. Fun times, fun time...NOT!! :)

Aliza said...

Verrrrry interesting discussion! It is impossible to put too fine a point on the value of experiencing emptiness in many of its forms. Reminds me of a time when one of my kids was small (not sure which, but it was one of the older two...) At my parents' house, my mother pointed to a little decorative box, and asked (whichever child) "What is this?" She was expecting something like "box" or "square" for an answer. Instead, (whichever child) looked at it, and said, "Empty." In that spirit, I highly recommend the following book for kids. It is beautifully written, magnificently drawn, and sends a great message.

prashant said...

there's no room left for what or who we really do need.
Contextual Ad Network India

Keda said...

I agree. As long as sweets and junk are kept out of their reach, most kids sometimes need to be left to their own devices with things like food. And as mothers, we save ourselves from becoming those incessant naggers that are always portrayed. I think it is ok to teach kids how to truly value a wonderful meal and there is not better way to do this. They won't starve. In fact, I would like to bet that they will ask for carrots and tomatoes all on their own soon enough.

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