Food with BENEFITS (who’s down wit’ F.W.B.?).

raw cauliflower head

(ummm. that was for PUFFER FISH but OK.)

I’ve talked before about the fact we DON’T do food sneaks.

We all need to do what works best for our family and, for us, *sneaking* in the health means the Husband Tornado isn’t *building* healthy habits.

We are big fans of the open sneak—but that’s not what we’re chatting about today.

Today we are focusing on the H-WORD.

The healthy.

The word which, thanks to peer’fluence, the Tornado suddenly associates with less-than-tasty and more-than-a-bit-vitamin’y.

Cue sad face.

Screen shot 2014-03-11 at 5.08.08 AM

It’s not that she’s refusing the healthy foods (yet).

She’s just suddenly aware my choices intuitively veer toward healthier fare while the other grown biped’s may…not.

Right now, I’m still offering up choices (ones where I’m OK with either option) and mostly letting her choose her foods.

Sometimes she chooses the trashtastic, yet I’m seeing how her eight year old body *knows* what it needs and is sending messages to tell her.

Recently, after a crazy Saturday filled with Running for a Better Oakland and softball, she was famished.

She eagerly said YES YES YES!!! to an offer of burger & fries yet later, as we lolled in bed chatting about her day, she moaned her belly didn’t feel so good.

It hurt.

Are hamburgers not healthy, Mama? Are french fries bad for me? Are they not healthy? Is that why my belly hurts?

It was in that moment of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-yoga-pants parenting an idea was born.

I’m not so much a fan of the word HEALTHY lately.  I like F.W.B.  Food with BENEFITS.

I can’t lie to you. Here’s where I also spontaneously broke it on down into singing WHO’S DOWN WIT’ F.W.B.?

And a game was born.

No longer did she ask the annoying Is this healthy? (<—-annoying to me.  no faking the happy here.  the constant barrage of that query became exhausting to this intuitive eater.) as the next morning it shifted to:

Is this a F.W.B.?

And a game was born.

Now the Tornado examines foods with an eye to What are its benefits? versus a generalized Is it healthy?

Will this help me poop better? Are there vitamins for my eyes in here? Fats to make my hair shiny?

It’s a welcome change from the *sighed*, distrusting:

Is this healthy food, Mama?

Not surprisingly, the more she learns about the foods shes eating (Who’s down with F.W.B? Yeah you know me!) the more she chooses ones which *benefit her body* rather than sap her strength.

Now you.

Lay it on me.

On us:

roasted cauliflower


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    • Nettie says

      I really try to focus on that too.
      And when we have treats to not say they are bad but they wont get us muscles.

  1. Barbara says

    Love this! Birthday month has us all a little too heavy on the frosted stuff. Need to embrace the F.W.B. for all this week.

  2. says

    Brilliant! And, because I’ve been thinking about this recently, I have to cite this verse from 1 Corinthians:
    Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful.
    (Some translations have “Everything is lawful, but not everything is beneficial.”)

    Your version is much hipper and relatable. 😉

  3. says

    I love this idea! My little ladies have no trouble putting down a plate of raw veggies or lean meat, but they’re also sugar junkies. (What can I say, they come by it honestly.) Yesterday, they found an open bag of Swedish Fish and polished it off all sneaky-sneaky like.
    We are going to ditch the H-word and start discussing FWBs. :)

  4. Bea says

    Interesting, Carla.
    My kids are at the age where they are starting to realize sugary stuff tastes better.
    (I hate the birthday parties and how crazy all the kids get for the cake!)

  5. says

    What a great way to frame it! My daughter also asks if certain foods are healthy (not that it keeps her from eating junk when it’s offered to her) but the benefits might connect with her in a different way.

  6. Heather @ Not a DIY Life says

    Oh, I love this! I have plenty of the healthy conversations with my girlie, but love this approach of “what does it do for me?” I’ll be stealing, um, borrowing this!

  7. says

    LOVE!! I love cause of all the learning that goes with it but without it being a tortured learning – great way to get the kids into it! How it helps them feel good, have pretty hair, seeing well – love!

  8. says

    It’s a great way to approach it! I agree, kids can quickly turn on our push for healthy. But turning it around like this is speaking a language this age group can appreciate.

  9. says

    I love this idea. My kids categorize food as either healthy or junk food. I’m not crazy about either and have been trying to figure out a better way to talk about food with them. I don’t want to demonize one “type” of food nor do I want to make healthy out to be a drag. I’ll have to play with this idea a bit.

  10. says

    I don’t have a problem with “healthy” but then I’m not 8 years old. (Well, sometimes I ACT like it but whatever). I love the way Foods With Benefits puts a positive spin on the health aspects without making it a black/white healthy/unhealthy dichotomy.

    And now it’s time to pour another cup of Coffee with Benefits, yay!

  11. Carla says

    they are. if anything she’s a few years behind her friends too.
    it’s a little heartbreaking…

  12. says

    I’m digging this game! Kenzer is in this cross roads of turning her nose up at some of the “healthy” things I used to have no problems getting her to eat. And yet has started to expand her horizons on other things. Perhaps if I share with her the benefits of certain foods, she’ll be more likely to try or continue to eat.

    These girls need to know– there’s always a method to a mama’s madness. :)

  13. says

    I’m down with FWB. My little one is still young but he definitely associates some foods with making him feel better. When he was sick we tried to give him a lot of foods that weren’t heavy but would give him the healthy things he needed. Soup with lots of spinach etc…

  14. says

    Much better way. Now i realize that giving up foods that don’t have many benefits is what i was doing years ago when i cleaned out my diet.

  15. says

    This post is right on! Thanks for teaching me another way to think about what I’m eating. I had a cheeseburger and fries last night and felt crappy the rest of the evening. I’m 44 and just starting to figure this out. Your child is so lucky to start so young.
    Yeah, I’m down.

  16. says

    What a great way to approach the topic–and help her make her own choices and decisions! I struggle with this with my tween as well -because my exhusband (who SHOULD make healthy choices) models less than stellar nutritional decisions. We have quite the good cop-bad cop food police in our two homes.

  17. says

    I love this!!! It seems way less judge-y and more truthful – how is this food going to help or harm me is a great question than putting labels on it. Some days, after a long run, when my body is craving the fuel, a burger and fries is just fine for it, and I feel fine. If I sat on my butt all day, a burger and fries is going to make me feel yucky.

  18. says

    Oh, I am soooo down with FWB! That is such a fantastic approach, and such a wonderful way of eating to be teaching your daughter. I’m all about eating what is going to make me feel GOOD rather than what is the healthiest option/etc… even though it’s so hard to divorce your mind from the “healthy” and (for me at least) the most plant-based, etc. Great post!!

  19. says

    Great idea! However, this game can get tricky, as I consider the Food Coma to be a massive benefit. Ain’t gonna lie, though, I need my poop game to be point. If I don’t poop on schedule…. eh, never mind.

  20. says

    Poop better! I love it. You are so awesome for introducing this so very early. I honestly made no conscious correlation between food and how my body responded (other than obvious like alcohol) until I was in my… 40s??

    • Carla says

      without oversharing I shall just say she’s super in touch with foodsthatclogherup :-)
      she never wants that again…

  21. says

    You’re my favorite. I love the way you approach things differently in a way that teaches your daughter so many amazing lessons at such a young age. I want to be like you when I grow up :)

  22. cherylann says

    Train to eat…eat to train and stay healthy. Have to with the many germs floating around in a preschool on a daily basis.

  23. says

    Great post! I had that exact same conversation with our Public Health Nurses at work about the term healthy. They removed the french fries that were made with fresh cut fries from the cafeteria’s offerings because they aren’t “Healthy”, yet they still offer sugar-laden things like rice pudding, cookies and muffins. Staff were upset about the change, and rightfully so. They then had a meeting to reach out to staff to find out more about what “healthy” foods we wanted and I was invited. I didn’t have any particular food suggestions – I instead told them that if they’re going to throw the word “healthy” around, and provide food offerings based on how “healthy” they are, then perhaps they should define what healthy means first – is it like you said, a FWB or is it trans-fat free or low-calorie, or low sugar, or GMO free etc.

  24. says

    Oh my goodness, I lurve this. Like. A lot. It’s all about picking the right words that are going to click with them. And I really want to eliminate the notion of good food vs. bad food. No food is bad, just some foods are better.

    Now…how to slip this into conversation…

  25. says

    Love this! I have one kid who is happy to eat most fruits and a lot of veggies and often chooses those for snack. My other kid only wants, umm, food with no benefits. Perhaps getting him to understand the difference might help.

  26. says

    OMG! I never thought of it that way, but I love it! I hate making enemies of food by calling it good and bad, but this is perfect!

    Your daughter is so lucky to have such a great mama!

  27. says

    I’m a day late but I love this!! What a great idea not just for kids but for all of us!! I think we are going to try to learn more about FWB and start using that – especially for snack choices!!

  28. says

    I think this is brilliant. I stress SO much about how to talk to my kids about food. With my, uh, troubled past with the stuff I am afraid of everything that comes out of my mouth. But I love “food with benefits” – it’s a great way to teach intuitive eating without the loaded labels. Thank you thank you thank you.
    P.S. That lead pic is ADORABLE! Those eyes!! Her expression is cracking me up.

  29. says

    Your F.W.B. (Food with benefits) game is great with the kids. Most common thing the boys ask is: Is this going to make me taller? … which is just fine with me.

  30. says

    Hi! Found you on #typeaparent — awesome post! My oldest is 3.5 and I find myself in the yes or no debate over what is healthy and not healthy all the time as if there is no middle ground. I like the FWB idea as a way to address the gray area. Thanks for the idea!

  31. says

    I love this Food With Benefits idea. This is a really great thing! I think it will help me when I make food choices too.