Stand in Love, Not Judgment: Food Choices are Not an Issue |
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Stand in Love, Not Judgment: Food Choices are Not an Issue

admin October 27, 2012

The other day I was curious how much other peoples’ kids were eating, because mine always eat a lot.  They are constantly eating!  They all beg for meals and snacks constantly.  I posted a few examples of meals they had eaten in the previous few days at random, to show the sheer amount of food that they consume.

What I expected was to hear a variety of “Oh, my kids eat that much too!” and “Mine don’t really eat a lot, no.” and “My kids go through phases where they eat more or less.”

Instead what I heard was:

  • “You’re not feeding them enough protein.”
  • “You’re not feeding them enough fat.”
  • “You’re feeding them too many carbs.”
  • “You’re not feeding them enough fruits and vegetables.”
  • …and so on

Really?

There are 21 meals eaten in the average week and toddlers are known for going on “streaks” where they will want a lot of one food or type of food, and then after a few days they will want something else.  It all balances out over time, usually over the course of a week or so — which means throughout all 21 meals + snacks, toddlers should have a “balanced diet.”  (Which doesn’t look like what the mainstream thinks it does, anyway.)  I post three very brief examples, with no details about ‘what’ the food contained, and that is what I hear??

I’m very surprised.  I thought my readers knew better than to issue judgement like that.

(Just as an example, I mentioned my kids ate a lot of “pancakes.”  Some readers jumped to the conclusion that this meant lots of refined grains!  Umm, no.  Have you read the blog?  In this case they were gluten-free pancakes, a recipe I haven’t posted yet, but they were a combination of brown rice flour, coconut flour, eggs, raw milk, sucanat, and sea salt.  No refined grains here, quite a bit of protein, plenty of healthy fats from the milk, eggs, and the butter they were cooked in.  On other occasions it would have been soaked whole wheat pancakes, possibly with pumpkin or squash added.  Or coconut flour and banana pancakes.  I typically do not make things with white flour.)

Really, though, this brought up a bigger issue, and one I was also thinking about earlier in the day…judgment.  We have an awful habit of judging people, and often doing so unfairly.  Let me explain.

The Public Parenting Conundrum

Friday afternoon around 1:30, we were at our very last stop on our shopping trip (our fourth store).  We had been at it for 2.5 hours, and everyone was tired and ready to go home for lunch and nap.  Because of this, the children were climbing around in the car instead of getting into their seats like they were supposed to.  After repeatedly reminding them what the rules were, I finally snapped, “I need children in their seats now.”  They climbed in.

Suppose you walked by my van at that moment, to hear me raise my voice and order the children to sit that way.  And suppose that you (of course) had no idea that this was the very last bit of a very long morning, coming after two very long days with late nights.  Tempers were short and it was an unusual moment.  But for a stranger walking by, none of this is obvious.  A stranger would only see that moment as it was –– and it was really only the “tip of the iceberg,” so to speak.  A stranger might think, “Wow, she’s a bad mom, if that’s how she talks to her children!”

(And if I *always* talked to them that way, maybe I would be!  Then again there are worse things to do to your children than raise your voice slightly.)

When we are out in public, we see — and do! — all kinds of things that draw judgment.  We judge based on the information and situation in front of us, often harshly.  We make assumptions that the situation we are seeing is “normal” and “typical” for the people involved, and that it is somehow representative of who they are.

It is not, in many cases.

I’ve learned, personally, that when I see a mom yell at her children or grab one by the arm and pull him/her that that mother is probably just at the end of her rope after an unusually long or bad day.  She is not a bad mother.  This is not necessarily (and in fact, probably not) representative of how she typically treats her children.  When I see this, I just smile sympathetically — we’ve all been there.  Yet many would judge the mom harshly…based on that one moment in time.

Remember the Ice Berg

When we judge someone else in small snapshots like these, whether it’s the mom yelling at a child in public or the brief examples of meals I posted, we’re being too harsh.

Before judging someone, we need to step back and think:

  • Is this someone I actually know? (if yes, then maybe you know if the behavior is representative or not.  If no, you have no idea)
  • Have I ever done something like that in a weak moment?
  • Have I ever felt unfairly judged because someone else didn’t know my circumstances?
  • Might this person have other circumstances or information they haven’t shared that would change the perspective of this situation?

It is so important to stop and think about this before judging someone.  Almost always we are too quick to judge and we do so too harshly.  We jump to conclusions based on a very small amount of information.

In my own example, I also heard: “You must not give them enough water.” (They drink it all the time, whenever they want.)  “You must serve them too much food and force them to clean their plates.”  (Nope, they eat on kid plates and ask for seconds and thirds if they are truly hungry.  Sometimes they don’t eat much or don’t ask for seconds at all.)  “They will probably become obese if you don’t limit their portion sizes.”  (Actually most adults in this country under eat, and that contributes to their weight issues.)

World View Makes a Difference

The examples above have to do with “world view.”  That is, the frame of experience, ideas and beliefs through which a person interprets the world. If someone has struggled with being overweight themselves and has always been told that it is because their portions are out of control, then they will read that bit of information into anyone sharing that they eat a lot.  They will worry that the person will struggle with the same thing they have.

People react to situations entirely differently depending on their world view.  When a world view is ingrained staunchly enough, a person literally cannot understand and accept information which counters their world view.  Some even react violently to it.

For example, on every “controversial” post I’ve ever written or posted (like Lindsey’s post on dental myths a couple weeks ago), there are some people who simply refuse to understand or agree with any part of it.  They reject it outright and treat it as it is extremely offensive to them.  Most of these type of comments never get published because the people are personally offended and can get downright nasty!  They do this because the information goes strongly against their deeply-held world view.

It is important to remember that if someone does something differently than you do, or shares new information that contradicts what you believe, that they are not doing it to offend you or to spite you.  And if someone gets angry with you because you do something differently or have shared new information, it has to do with their own deeply-held convictions, and not because anything that you have chosen or believe is actually wrong.  Worldview shapes how we understand and react to everything…and it’s important to consider this in any controversial situation.

Stand in Love, Not Judgment_ Food Choices are Not an Issue

Food Choices

It is not okay to judge someone else for their food choices.

Most all of us on here are somewhere on the path to real food.  Or hope to be someday.  And there are plenty of others yet who are not even aware that there is a difference between “real food” and “food.”  It is fine and good to help educate people who are open to learning and walk with them as they make changes.  That is not judgment (as long as the attitude is one of love!).

But to look at someone’s current food choices and think “That is wrong because…” is not okay.  It’s impossible to tell why a family makes the choices they do.  (Special diets, allergies, budget restrictions, etc.)  Plus, frankly, everybody’s family has a different set of tastes and needs.  One family could eat heavily ethnic food, another very meat-and-potatoes.  Or one family could eat almost no meat, and another could eat largely animal products.

It doesn’t matter.

We all eat in a way that works for us, in this season of our lives.  And just as in the situations above, there’s a lot that others don’t know about a family’s food choices.  It’s easy to look at what someone is eating and think, “I would eat ___ instead” or “Maybe they wouldn’t have health problems if only they didn’t eat ____” or even “Hmm…they think that’s healthy??”

But remember you’re only seeing a tiny snapshot in most cases.  Perhaps you’ve caught the person on their one “splurge” day a month!  Or on a really bad or busy day.  Or maybe…the person really isn’t sure what to do yet, as far as real food, and this is the best they could do.  Or maybe their budget is tight and this was the best they could afford.  Who knows!

The Bottom Line

We must stand in love when we approach others.  There’s just so much we don’t know about someone’s circumstances.  We should assume the best and reach out to help if needed, but never in judgment.  Only if we have a true intent to help another.

Next time you see a mom at her wit’s ends with kids in a store, smile at her and say “I’ve been there.  We all have bad days.”  Next time you see a mom feeding her kids fries or anything you consider “junk food,” just smile and think it’s a rare treat.  Don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions!

When we assume the best about people, we open up hearts and communication.  When we assume the worst, we shut them down.

What do you think?  Do we judge people too harshly sometimes?

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10 Comments

  1. Oh, this is so good. I spent 23 years judging my husband on what he ate and almost destroyed my marriage. I have learned to treat him as a wife instead of a mother and we have a great marriage! Judging others is so destructive. We are commanded to think the best of others. I have learned that by loving and serving others changes them. Also by just setting an example. Life is too short to make other lives miserable.

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  2. This was by far one of your best articles. It takes a lot of courage to be willing to discuss online your parenting techniques … the good, the bad, and the ugly … so that others can benefit and “putting it out there” leaves you open to so much criticism. We are all guilty. I wonder if those who criticize would like to give us a chance to look at and comment on their lives. I don’t think there would be any of us that would come off as “perfect” in everyone’s opinion. I personally enjoy seeing how you handle various situations. Sometimes I agree; sometimes I do not; but as you said … “It all balances out eventually.” I hope the judgmental comments do not bother you too much. They shouldn’t. You are doing a wonderful job and I think I speak for many who read your emails, that we appreciate your offerings and your insights.

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  3. This is very good. You said, “We jump to conclusions based on a very small amount of information.” This is true. Often I have to ask myself, “Carrie, are you really listening, or are you talking and then waiting your turn to rebut/judge/speak/criticize.” A pastor pointed this out in a sermon on making political choices and having those discussions, but it rings true here. I think there are so many choices we can make as parents and people that as long as you are trying to find the right path for yourself as to “right living” and something, at least in my life, that isn’t particularly prescribed in black and white (“Thou shalt nots…”), you are doing the best you can. So keep on keeping on. Your kids will thank you for a non-warped POV about their eating habits! (Spoken as an adult who, as a child, had all of her eating habits analyzed and criticized from the age of 3, making for a very bad food relationship!)

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  4. I missed the original post to which you refer, but want to say that we are vegetarians in our house and while we do still use refined sugar on occasion (I just can’t get into the taste of the various substitute sugars, outside of molasses), and refined flours (I’m learning though!) I wanted to say that my five kids eat a LOT of food. A frequent refrain in our house is “is there anything more I can eat?” I can barely keep up! So it’s important to have healthy, filling foods around for them to go to at will. I keep bags of celery and baby carrots on hand, beans and rice, bread, nuts, hummus, fruit (expensive, but worthwhile), and pancake days… are usually the days when I’m OUT of anything else, so I make them with flax seed, molasses, wheat flour, etc. and quadruple the recipe and they eat them as dry snacks until dinner. I add fruit when I have enough left… just want to echo that your kids aren’t the only ones!!

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  5. We all do our best- and should let the Lord do the rest. And I read recently that BEST looks different in every house.
    My kids are BIG eaters too! 🙂
    Blessings!

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  6. I agree..there shouldn’t be judgement. Motherhood is hard enough without having to worry what other people think! Just to let you know my kids eat about the same amount as yours! They are super tiny too so its funny because people don’t expect thwm to eat that much! They are 3 and 2..my 7 month old is just starting table foods and is exclusively bf so its hard to say how much he will eat, if its as much as he eats of breastmilk..I’m going to be broke feeding these kids…lol

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  7. I think you’re over thinking a lot of those comments. People read your post as you asking for help, so they gave it, just like you give your help frequently. Your facebook page has tons of posts every day where readers weigh in and say what works for them, so they probably thought this was another one of those. I don’t think anyone meant to judge you or your choices. You are always so open to other peoples’ choices and have created that kind of atmosphere on the blog, so unless they were new readers, I doubt they were judging you! 🙂

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  8. I love this post. I didn’t have a chance to post on your original, but sad to say I am not surprised. We have 5 kids, all GF, and I get so many comments! Not only about my GF but my family size, my “horrible”choice to public school (I love ps and my kids are thriving), my desire to avoid sugar…..the list goes on. I think your kids sound just like mine. My “skinniest” (because their size doesn’t bother me) eats like a horse! All my kids love meat! And homegrown bacon…… I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect and this post helped me to see a lot of good and positive things I am doing 🙂 Even when I might not agree or find something “out-there” I appreciate the posts and it gives me something to think about. (the dental post was something I had never heard about and has given me opportunity to re-look at our dental practices 🙂 Thanks for your blogs! <3

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  9. I love this. Although I know exactly how we should eat to feel our best in this family, we don’t always do it. I used to be the person that judged others, but recently have gotten over it because it’s such a waste of time and energy! What a person puts in their mouth is not any of my business and I hope people would extend the same respect to me.

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  10. Yes!! I have to admit I’m a judger….but I’ve been working on it the past couple of years. Having friends and knowing other mommas in drastically different situations than mine has helped me to put aside some of those prejudices and offer encouragement and love rather than judgement and condescension.

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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