I have come across many parents who avoid restricting their child’s diet too much around other people because they don’t want them to feel ‘left out’ from the other children’s ‘snacks of the day.’  The only time they are adamant about their children not consuming certain foods or drinks is when that food triggers chronic and bothersome symptoms.

It is not fun to avoid what other people ‘can’ eat.  However, it is important to remember that what is normal for others (or sometimes what seems like ‘everyone else’) is not always optimal.  In fact, it can be far from optimal.

Some people feel like childhood is a time of eating whatever sugary foods you want.  I fully disagree.  This is a time of training your child’s palette to prefer healthy options.  This is also a time of training your child about healthy coping mechanisms when they are experiencing tough emotions.  This is not a time of giving them sweets or processed foods to cheer them up.  Rewards should not always revolve around food or drinks either.

There is a gift within being ‘left out’ at a young age that you as a parent can foster in your child with some effort.  That gift is the sense of individuality, having self esteem when you are alone in something, not overly feeling the need to be around people who are not good for us, finding other creative ways to connect with others.

One way to do this when your child has to avoid certain foods – or you as the parent want to be more adamant about it to preserve their health – is to consider bringing them to a mental health therapist who can help cultivate these mentalities in your child.

You could also have them read (or read to them depending on the age) multiple books on being different.  Additionally, it is good to include explaining to them the long term benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and explaining the cons of not doing so.  This conversation can evolve as the child grows.

I have had the opportunity to meet a few adults who were raised by other Naturopathic doctors or holistically minded individuals.  They sometimes still prefer healthy food.  They enjoy items like raw carrots as a snack without immersing it in ranch dressing.  They can sometimes be simple eaters, and they can overall be healthier human beings.

It is worth the effort.