Does your child feel welcome at your table?

Welcome to the Table - Blog

How do you feel looking at the photo above?

In the child feeding community I run with FeedingBytes.com founder, Natalia Stasenko, RD, we recently welcomed new members with this image and some get-to-know-you questions.  I’ve used other photos in the past, but this one just gave me all the good food feels.  Maybe because of my Romanian background where bread was a necessary accompaniment to nearly all meals.  Bread.  Fresh, crusty, comforting bread.  A completely unpretentious staple of so many cultures.  Mediterranean restaurants provide unlimited supplies of hot, poofy flatbread.  Italian restaurants serve basket after basket of breadsticks.  And good Indian buffets keep the naan coming.

Above, I see a fresh loaf made with love, beckoning me to take a seat at the table.

Your enjoyment is important.  A good meal is coming.  Welcome to the table.

It’s hard sometimes to get it right when you feed a family.  Each person with their unique personality and preferences.  What children like and are willing to eat varies so much from day to day–even meal to meal.

So this post is about bread.  It’s also not about bread.

This is About Bread

I love Ellyn Satter’s “From the Cook” manifesto, especially one line.

There will always be bread.  And you may eat as much of it as you want.

My grandma made bread several times a week.  Meals at her house always involved her toasting a generous helping of slices for us.  When we’d eat through one batch, she’d toast more.  The underlying theme of feeding was that kids need to eat, the more the merrier.  While I now disagree with the pressure to eat, on the upside I don’t remember feeling any restriction about bread.  But we were thin kids, perhaps if the situation was different and we happened to be heavier things may have gone differently.

These days bread has gotten a bad rap.  If it’s not generalized and misplaced fear of gluten, it’s fear of carbs and the inaccurate belief that carb intake is directly correlated to fatness.  So the Italian restaurants still bring out baskets of bread sticks, but we’re advised to just say NO–or nibble guiltily while reminding our table company “I really shouldn’t.  So much refined carbs….”

So it’s no wonder bread is no longer a staple on many tables.  It bring so much anxiety.  What if kids eat more than one portion?  What if that’s all they eat?  There will always be bread  is a scary prospect because you may eat as much of it at you want requires serious trust rather than control.  The idea that our kids might actually eat slice after slice or roll after roll is downright frightening for so many parents.  Could it be a self-fulfilling prophecy?  The more we fear our kids appetites for a benign food like bread, the more their appetites for bread will seem overwhelming and worthy of fear?

This is NOT About Bread

There will always be bread.  And you may eat as much of it as you want.

You can substitute any staple for bread.  For households with a parent or child that has celiac disease, an alternate option is a necessity.

The point is coming to the table and finding something familiar and comforting.  And knowing this is a meal that you won’t leave the table hungry or unsatisfied.  Nobody is perfect.  And sometimes an “okay” meal is all we have time or energy to put together.   Don’t feel bad for sometimes missing the mark.  I sure do.

But maybe instead of investing all our energy into getting our kids to change their eating or become foodies or vegetable connoisseurs, maybe everyone is better served from effort to making meals welcoming.

Your enjoyment is important.
A good meal is here.
Welcome to the table.

WelcomeTa

If not bread, what staple food plays this role in your household?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

(Some interesting reading on bread history:  Why did our ancestors prefer white bread?   To discuss feeding a family, give and get support from other parents, join our online feeding community here.)

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Posted by Adina
February 19, 2017

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