Throwing out the breakfast, lunch and dinner labels


kids eating in kindergarten

What would you do if I told you to stop using the terms breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Most parents look at me with confused expressions when I suggest this. Once you hear why, you will hopefully agree that this seemingly crazy idea is not so crazy!

If you have a picky eater or problem feeder you will strongly want to consider this. OR if you want to use them to identify time of day, you can do that, but you have to stop associating foods with a particular time of day.

It is a myth that certain foods need to be eaten only at specific times of day.

We also need to stop labeling foods as health or not healthy.

Food is food and we need to refer to it by it’s name or it’s properties (crunchy, chewy, salty, etc).

There is such a stigma surrounding food in the United States that it makes it so much harder to encourage children to eat when they already have struggles surrounding their foods. Imagine your child telling you they are “junk” because they eat “junk.” Your take away…if your child is currently eating food that you label as “junk” food that is “unhealthy”, I encourage you to stop calling it that and start describing it.

Pay attention the types of foods your child likes. Are they crunchy, chewy, soft, hard….green, orange, yellow, red? Are they salty, spicy, sweet, etc? Recognizing this and finding patterns of what your child likes and eats may help you branch out into introducing other similar foods that may have a higher nutritional value and which may be similar to the foods your child currently eats. Similarities in foods is a common strategy used to chain one food that is familiar and safe to a new food that is a bit scarier.

But I digress… let’s get back to the breakfast debate!

Who determined that foods needed to be categorized by the time of day they were consumed? And who assigned a time of day for specific foods to be consumed? This is mind boggling to me. What’s even more mind boggling is that once upon a time, when teaching young children vocabulary, I actually made the error of reinforcing this by teaching that breakfast foods are eggs, waffles, bacon, etc. No! No! NO!!!!

If your child LOVES eggs & pancakes, why would you restrict that to only breakfast? If your child likes turkey meatballs, why restrict that to dinner? Why not offer it any time of day…at any of the 6 meals they should be consuming? The takeaway here…offer WHATEVER foods your child will eat at ANY meal throughout the day. Easy enough, right?

OH, and while we are on this topic, stop rewarding with dessert. Your child can have something sweet once in a while but don’t use it to encourage them to eat the “healthier” options. Make the sweets an equal to their more nutritional food friends.

It is time to take the judgment out of food, stop rewarding with dessert and let your child eat ANY food at ANY meal of the day. Get rid of the meal categories.

Can you do this?? YES YOU CAN!