Unschooling Food Stories

My post What happens when you let children eat what they want got a lot of attention, with many positive and some critical comments both on the blog and facebook. A few people commented that some modern food is intrinsically addictive and fundamentally ‘bad.’

But what I’d read in Kids, Carrots and Candy, is that after initially binging of the foods we’ve controlled and limited, our children will begin to intuitively feel what is right for their bodies, and that they’ll eat in a moderate and balanced way. That a child can be trusted to be in control, and allowing them that control is the very means that prevents them from developing food addiction.

I was really interested to read about the healthy options that people offer using sweetners that are more natural than refined sugar. I wondered if I should of just gone back to making my own healthy chocolate ice cream with avocados and bananas, and cake sweetened with maple syrup and coconut flour.

However I also know that my daughter loves real ice cream. My husband’s family are a big fan of desserts and real sugary substances. We live in Switzerland where bakeries give out chocolates to every shopper with kids, and we are in a multicultural city spending time with people making all sorts of different food choices.  Just the other week a friend from my daughter’s ballet class ran up to her and gave her a pack of Haribo. Then a lady in the supermarket bumped into my daughter by accident and bought her a chocolate bar to cheer her up. It seems as if there are women everywhere with chocolate in their handbags in case they meet a crying child.

My daughter knows about the real stuff, and I can tell on her face when she wants it, that she’s thinking about it in that awkward moment when I hide away the chocolates we got given and hope she forgets about it. I didn’t want to do that anymore. What if I was making it even more appealing, by being secretive and controlling about it?

It feels like taking a big leap into the unknown to be ‘unschooling’ food or intuitive eating as it’s sometimes called.We’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks, and my daughter’s still a big fan of chocolate for breakfast and lunch! By dinnertime she’s craving the more healthy stuff like apples, rice and veggies, which is a relief!

I keep asking myself if it will really work so I decided to read up on positive stories of people who have gone through this process with their children and come out the other side. So I’m sharing these resources and success stories for my own benefit too! I hope they inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me.

Won’t they just eat junk food all day? From Jennifer McGrail of The Path Less Taken

Learning to Eat: How Life Learning Principles Helped Me Develop A Healthy Relationship with Food

Unschooling author Nicole Olson talks about  food freedom, and talking with children about a balanced diet rather than ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods.

Faith’s food story. How unschooling helped her choose grapes over brownies!

Great blog from Michele James-Parham that answers all of our unschooling food worries with a positive joyful answer.

The emotional benefits of unschooling food from Johleen

Blog about some research that restricting and controlling food results in children making more unhealthy food choices

Unschooling food podcast

I’ll be adding links as I discover them so do drop back from time to time. And if you’ve written an unschooling blog post about food, let me know, I’d love to add it to the list!


2 thoughts on “Unschooling Food Stories

  1. I’ll add Kids, Carrots and Candy to my reading list. It really is such a hard thing you are doing, people and the media are bombarding us with mixed messages and it’s hard to stay carefree, and most of the advice of course is from people with dysfunctional childhoods who have needs for control. I am one of those (I am raising my hand)! So today i took the chocolate down from a high place and put it down 🙂 I remembered that trusting my kids over anyone is my No.1. They are the most capable of deciding what is good for their bodies, because they are in their bodies! Think breastfeeding..all the varied times that babies choose to ween, some early some late. Some people have more of a sweet tooth (my son and I) than others (my daughter and husband). I once watched a youtube clip about how home made food is a completely different process than the factory process, so home baking is a good go to if you don’t want to keep spending money on expensive treats. There are good things in chocolate cake too, like eggs and milk and flour! So some protein, calcium and whatever flour gives, energy probably 😉 Let go!

    1. it’s a great book. It was very reassuring to me that it was written 30 years ago by psychotherapists with many years of experience. I’m trying to think of it in the same way I do with TV, where I let my daughter have a lot of freedom, but I also remind her about the alternatives we could do like play, or go outside, many of which she actually prefers to do. And yes, chocolate cake! My daughter loves a chocolate cake I make with coconut flour, and maple syrup which just got declared a super food! So I think I’m going to be aiming to make lots of nutritious home made alternatives available as well as having store bought stuff. And try to relax my judgement about what’s good and bad. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your food journey!

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