Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eat with joy & thankfulness: A letter to my daughters

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I wrote this letter to my girls about food, because in my younger days it was a struggle. I had a very distorted self-image that made me afraid of eating, but this same attitude would also lead me to binge on things I knew weren't nourishing. So for me, a positive self-image and a healthy relationship with the food we eat go hand in hand.

Dear girls,

While you were napping today I had the most delicious pear. It was small, yellow, with just the right amount of juice. I closed my eyes while eating it and thought of you both, and how I wanted you to try it, to taste the sweetness and feel the nectar run down your chins and stick to your fingers. So I saved some for you, for tomorrow.

As you grow up, you'll find that food in our country is very confusing. But I want you to ignore mostly everything and just remember these things: the smell of fresh herbs and ripe fruit, the feel of the earth between your toes as we water next year's little garden, the warmth of the tomato off the vine, the dirt clinging to the orange carrots and the smell of sun-kissed lettuce and basil.

I want you to know where your food comes from and eat from the earth gratefully, thankful to every land animal, sea creature, flowering plant and blooming tree. I want you to walk through our magnificent farmer's market with a sense of awe and wonder and the supermarket aisles with a skeptical and discerning eye.

Our society will tell you so many untrue things about your bodies and that you need to buy the latest food fad or boxed bar to really be healthy. This couldn't be further from the truth. Forget the words "calories" and "goal weight" and "fattening", they have no place in our home or in your lives. Something that will truly nourish you from the inside out is worth more than a number assigned by a scientist; it is priceless. When you are at the store and you can't decide whether to visit the produce aisle or the snack food, remember this quote: "Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can't taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie."

It's my hope that I will raise you both with a love for life and people and beauty AND food, that it runs deep into your marrow and that the meals you cook and eat will be a love offering, even if it's just a meal by yourself. Be generous with your baking, have dinner parties, and bless people with tasty dishes.

Someone once said, "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are." Who are we? Thoughtful, aware, attentive, thankful? Adventurous and open? Honest? Willing to risk a new experience?

Let's eat like we live: savoring every morsel, sucking every drop and enjoying everything with open hands, thankful to the One who provided it. See the beauty in the earth and know that YOU are a part of this stunning creation. Let that truth guide your decisions.

All my love, and bon app├ętit!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she's perfect just the way she is.


  1. I love that you wrote this post in the form of a letter. How lovely! I think that food is such a massive issue for our kids and self-image, thank you for sharing this.

  2. Oh, this is lovely! I want to have just this relationship with food, and to pass it along to my kids. Thanks for sharing your letter!

  3. What an amazing attitude to have toward our food and bodies! These are the feelings our culture needs to cultivate.

  4. Your writing reminds me of the author Michael Pollan. You make eating a pear into poetry. I kind of wish you'd write a children's book along the lines of your first three paragraphs.
    This is such an amazing letter for your girls.
    And your last paragraph... I want to put on my wall. Maybe the kitchen wall!
    Just beautiful.

    1. Thank you, so much! I'm inspired by your comment - My husband has his MAT in elementary education and I've been trying to convince him to write a children's book...you've planted a seed in my mind for a topic! :)

  5. I love the angle you took on this topic! We eat mainly whole, natural foods in our house and it is so important to me that our girls see food as nourishing and delicious and not something to fear. My kids had one short-lived babysitter last summer and my oldest, unable to remember the sitter's name, now refers to her as "the one who ate factory food." The label is one she thought up herself and it cracks me up, though I also don't want her to judge people too harshly on the food choices they make. I love what you say about being able to taste to much in a carrot. Food connects us- to the earth, to the seasons, to each other.

    1. Thanks Casey, nice to meet a fellow Portlander!! :)

  6. Also I just realized that we live in the same city! (I guess I'm outing myself as a blog snooper.:)

    So happy I came across your blog through this blog carnival.

  7. Beautiful letter! I love your words "Let's eat like we live: savoring every morsel, sucking every drop and enjoying everything with open hands, thankful to the One who provided it. See the beauty in the earth and know that YOU are a part of this stunning creation. Let that truth guide your decisions." Reading your letter is like a meditation. :) Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

  8. I absolutely love this! I cannot wait until my daughter is older to be able to start gardening with her! You are so right- the quality of what we put in our bodies is just one more way of showing ourselves how important we believe we are!

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