Being a Healthy Role Model for Your Food Shadow

Do you have your own personal shadow? You know, someone who follows you around every second of the day. Someone who wants and tries to do exactly what you are doing at any given moment?

My two-year-old daughter is my shadow. Everything she sees me do, she wants to do.  She sees me put make-up on, and she pretends to do the same. She sees me put a necklace around my neck, and she wants one too. She sees me throw my purse over my shoulder, and she looks for a purse to do the same.

Girl Drinking SmoothieSee what I mean? She’s my own personal shadow.

It was around the eleven-month mark I started noticing this copycat behavior. I thought it was cute at first, but then I noticed that she literally wanted to copy everything I did… including my eating habits. She was becoming my food shadow.

This is where it all starts I thought. If my daughter grows up and sees her mother mindlessly eating, that’s what she will do too. It was then that I decided to really fine-tune my eating habits.

I’m a big advocate of the intuitive eating method, but like any normal person, I’m not perfect, and shouldn’t expect to be.  I made sure that she was not only served well-rounded meals, but that she saw me eating the same thing she was eating. If she saw me mindlessly plowing through a bag of chips everyday, she would grow up thinking that was normal.

I needed to be the eater I want my daughter to be. Being a stay-at-home-mom, I have learned to be very mindful of my eating behaviors. It’s my job to be a good role model.

I want my daughter to have a healthy, well-rounded view of food. I want her to learn to love and enjoy food, but also view it as a source of fuel and energy, not as a way to bury our sorrows. I want my daughter to grow up thinking eating, as a family is normal. I want her be familiar with every type of food. I want her to grow up not knowing what forbidden foods are and that everything can be enjoyed in moderation. I want her to know that eating is something we do when we’re hungry, and when we do eat, we should love & savor every bite.

All of this starts with me, I am the role model. It is my job to provide her with the framework and guidance, because there will be a day where she will be leaving my shadow and on her own, practicing everything I have shown her… 

Estela Schnelle is a registered dietitian and stay-at-home mom. She shares recipes, nutrition tips and her adventures in mommyhood on her blog, WeeklyBite.com.