Let me first start off with a personal story about when an adult made me feel like Humpty Dumpty just because I ate "too much" when I was younger.
I was in middle school which is the typical time where kids hit their growth spurts and become tall and grow into their bodies and actually learn how to walk without tripping.
I was about 5'10" in the seventh grade and I finally knew how to properly jump when I spiked the ball on the volleyball court. (Talk about accomplishing a goal.) Well, unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who noticed my growth spurt. One day, I had a substitute teacher for a class who had also taught me in elementary school.
Now, back in elementary school, I used to look like a baby bear, I kid you not. I was chunky and round and probably could have passed for an Oompa Loompa if I had never gotten my growth spurt and grew into my body (thank goodness my pediatrician knew what he was talking about).
Well, when the substitute teacher called roll, she called my name, found my face in the class and did a double take.
She looked at me as to say, "Surely this can't be the same Hannah that I saw back in elementary school?" I smiled and said "Hi Mrs. So-and-So" and once I had smiled, it was like a lightbulb went off in her head.
She quickly began talking about how she had known me since I was this tall and blah, blah, blah. Then came the remark that I will never forget.
She turned to the class while still talking to me and said, "You all won't believe it but Hannah used to be quite the chunk. I expected to see her on 'Biggest Loser' one day."
As anyone would have been, I was embarrassed and hurt. I had never thought of myself as "fat" or "unhealthy" until she compared me to the popular TV show that helped unhealthy people turn their lives around by helping them lose weight.
My little twelve-year-old mind could not believe, let alone make sense, of what she had just told me. To make matters worse, she had just said that in front of my entire class which, of course, erupted with laughter.
I'm not telling you this so you can feel sorry for my twelve-year-old-self or so you can hate that teacher, rather I'm sharing my story to show you how easy it is to give a child body image issues.
Shortly after that incident, I stopped eating healthy food and strictly ate salads for lunch and dinner. I was a growing girl who played sports and needed the extra energy from sufficient food to simply live and let me tell you, salads were not cutting it.
Children who are in elementary and middle school should not be worried about what they are eating. They are children for crying out loud, they should be worrying about who has cooties and what not.
Just today, I overheard a mother tell her ten-year-old daughter that she didn't need to finish her grilled cheese because there were too many carbs in it anyway.
Are you actually kidding me? She is 10 and if she wants to eat her entire grilled cheese, and as most parents preach to their kids about finishing their food anyways, let the child eat her grilled cheese in peace.
Just that comment can flip a switch in a child's mind and make them view themselves as "imperfect." When you make remarks like that, you are telling the child that something is wrong with them or that they aren't good enough.
Kids are kids. They are going to each junk and that's ok because guess what? They'll grow out of it, have a growth spurt and just be as fine as the next kid. You do not need to tell them at such a young age that they need to cut certain foods out of their diet because "it's not good for them."
If you want to argue the fact that some kids won't grow out of it and they will become obese and die of heart failure then fine, let's argue that point.
If they don't grow out of it by the age of, let's say, 17, then fine, go ahead and take them to a nutritionist and see if there's an issue. But don't give them a diet that you found on the internet just because you want them to be an Instagram model and feel better about yourself.
Children should only strive to be two things and that's being happy and healthy and let me tell you, both of those come in all different shapes and sizes.
So, in the end, let the kid eat the damn grilled cheese.