Listen in as Jenn Messina (Jenn the dietitian) and Chanci discuss the whys and hows around raising intuitive eaters. There are so many amazing takeaways in this episode including:
- It’s never too early or too late to start intuitive eating!
- Healing your relationship with food as a family
- Stopping the food fight!
- Why all food is healthy
- How to talk to your kids about food and nutrition
- Navigating obstacles with blended families and co-parents immersed in diet culture
- Is sugar really addictive?
- How feeding your kids more sweets will actually make them desire sugarless
About the Guest:
Jenn Messina is a Registered Dietitian based in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. Jenn is passionate about all aspects of holistic health and practices through the lens of Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating. She works with individuals who are ready to break up with dieting and find balance and joy with food! She also works with families looking to support their children to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.
Raising Body Positive Kids Course: https://www.jennmessina.com/raising-body-positive-kids-course
About the Host:
Chanci Dawn is a non-diet certified nutritionist, mindset and embodiment coach whose soul’s purpose is to help women create the most wildly free and loving relationship with food and their bodies. After over 30 years of dieting and recovering from her own eating disorder Chanci is determined to help women find the same freedom she has through embodied eating and pleasurable living. Chanci believes that when you fall madly in love with yourself you’ll have the power to change your world and from there you can change the world around you making embodied eating a deep and powerful form of activism!
Find Chanci on the following platforms:
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This show is about freedom. Freedom from your constant struggle with food and letting the size of your thighs determine your worth. Join me weekly for no whole fat, unfiltered girlfriend kind of conversations that will inspire, teach and empower you. As we tune into our own body's wisdom and tune out of the diet industry lives, we can live our most radiant, pleasurable and fulfilled lives. My name is Chauncey dawn. I'm a non diet nutritionist embodiment and mindset coach. But most importantly, I'm a woman on a mission to grow a deeply connected and conscious relationship with food and my body. And I'm here inviting you to do the same. Let's go.Chanci Dawn:
Hello, my friend. Welcome to today's show. I am super looking forward to you listening in on this conversation I had with Jenn Messina. Because I really think that as we're doing our own work on healing our relationship with food and body, we really want to be able to teach our children from such a beautiful young impressionable age, how to not have a messed up relationship with food and body, how beautiful for them to grow up without having to undo or relearn or, you know, decondition anything, right? We just want them to have the freedom that they deserve and the freedom that we're growing into as adults. So really excited to have Jenn on here. I loved our conversation, she answered some questions that I've had burning for a while. And it was really fun. And it's kind of crazy, because I don't know, Jenn, I have never met her before. She's just a woman, a dietitian, who I found on Instagram and started following. And I really, really liked what she was putting out there and very much aligns with what I teach and believe and live and how I'm raising my own kids. So tons of cool tools, tips, and just a lot of deep wisdom to gain from Jenn. So Jenn is a registered dietitian. And she's based in beautiful BC, and Vancouver very close to me, actually. And Jenn is passionate about all aspects of holistic health and practices through the lens of Health at Every Size, and intuitive eating. She works with individuals who are ready to break up with dieting and find balance with joy and food. And she also works with families looking to support their children to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies. So yes, this girl is right up our alley. Can't wait for you to listen, enjoy.Chanci Dawn:
Welcome, Jenn from North Vancouver, you're so close to me. And I think that's pretty neat, because most of my guests are, you know, in the states and stuff. And when I saw you on Instagram, and then we started connecting, I'm like, Oh my gosh, she's a BC girl. Isn't that fun? Because I'm just on the island. So that I love it. Yeah. So welcome. Thank you so much for coming on. I know we were just chit chatting a bit before I pushed record just about how I find you know, what we're going to talk about today. So exciting. And so valuable for all the moms and grandmas, everyone listening in, if we can get all of the grandmas, moms, aunts, sisters, big sisters who are working on healing their relationship with food and their bodies, if we can learn how to reach the youth how to teach them how to raise them with with a very flowing, beautiful, like, easy relationship with food as kids are born to have, right? So we can keep that that's what I think it's almost like we don't want to condition them out. We want to preserve what they already know. And what we are relearning. Now, as women who are healing our relationship with food in our bodies, it's it's just such a gift to be able to learn from you so that we can then help our kids. So Jenn, I would love for you to share your story. Of course, I read your bio, but if you could just share your heart story of what brought you to this place of as a registered dietitian now working with is that you work with children or you mostly work with the moms and dads helping their kids tell us.Jenn Messina:
So I work primarily with families and parents, because I never want a child to feel like there's quote unquote, something wrong with them. So that's why I work with parents. And we usually we don't really talk about that they're working with a dietitian. So I came to this place similar to many other dietitians in my area from a very diet and weight centric paradigm. So the You know, I grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, where it was just so mainstream to diet and to, like, fitness was like, you know, the beauty ideal, you know, for so long. And even my schooling, I came into wanting to be a dietitian, because I had struggled with my body image as a child. And looking back as many of us do, thinking of how we thought our body was the wrong size from such a young age, I came into wanting to become a dietitian, because I wanted to crack the code, and to figure out how I could live like in a thin body without dieting. So, you know, it was actually pretty, like, you know, and for many dietitians, like a lot of us have a disordered relationship had a disordered relationship with food in our body. And that's what drew us into the area. It's not talked about that much. But if you are obsessed with food and weight and your body, like what a perfect area to go into. So, you know, I think I the schooling is getting better from what I've been hearing from some of the students like in this day and age, but when I was a student, which was in the early 2000s, it still was very weight, and diet centric. So, you know, I was schooled in that area. I practiced in that area, unfortunately. But as I started practicing for longer, I realized that many of the clients would come back to me time and time again, with some of the, you know, advice that I'd given them. And yes, they could lose weight in the short term. But then it came back plus some so after seeing that, in my own practice, over and over again, I started diving into like the weight science literature, and like weight regain literature. And then that leads you down the tail of like, intuitive eating Health at Every Size, like do we even need to be talking about weight is weight, even that important? And then having my own children, I have a daughter, who's seven, and I have a son who's five, I started thinking about as a child, like, when did I start thinking that my body wasn't right for me. And that started very early, like probably around the same age as my daughter. Because my family is all in a traditionally like thin bodies like genetically, and I was in a slightly larger body, and I'm still talking from a place of thin privilege. And obviously, you know, have you talked about thin privilege? And like, what does that mean? Again, thatChanci Dawn:
I'm that slotted calendar for an entire episode? Yes. So the listeners will for sureJenn Messina:
be. So Coles notes on a Coles notes on thin privilege is just that. It's not the thinner bodied people think that they're portable better than others. It's just that they have unearned privileges based on their body's genetic predisposition. So they have privileges such as being able to shop at a mainstream store, being able to sit on an airplane seat without needing a seat extender, basically surviving in the world without having people constantly telling you that your body is wrong. So that medical care that they deserve Exactly. And so I go to the doctor, if I go to the doctor with knee pain, the doctor does not say to me, you need to lose weight. The doctor says, oh, like, let's look into physiotherapy, let's look into you know, an x ray or whatever. So yeah, a person in a larger body might be given, you know, the prescription to lose weight. So that's just the lens that my family, you know, we grew up in, in thin bodies. And so my body was slightly larger than theirs. And so I always felt different. And that I was, you know, my parents didn't micromanage, but I ate. But there was always this kind of underlying, you know, my mom was dieting, there's this underlying kind of thought that, that our bodies were better bodies and that sort of thing. So that was the kind of the, where I grew up. And so when I had my own kids, I thought that for me, I really don't want my child in whatever body she's going to grow up to be in, we know that predominantly, our body size is genetically predetermined. So you know, her body size will likely be what it is, regardless of, like, you know, we think of diet and exercise as having such a huge role in terms of our body size. But that's only one small piece of the puzzle, when we look at like where someone's body size ends up. So that was kind of that's kind of the you know, that is an abbreviated version. But after having my own children and going down the rabbit hole once you see dye culture for what it is, it's very hard to not see it everywhere.Chanci Dawn:
So true. Yeah. Oh, so good. And how wonderful for your little ones. Right? And so what do you let me ask you when did it start with your kids? Like, was it right away? How did you like feeding on demand? Or like I would love to learn that just from like, from the basic of here's your baby. Now, how are you going to raise this little baby as an intuitive eater from day one?Jenn Messina:
Yeah, so I think like, if you look into like as a dietitian, I love the research. So then automatically I'm like, what does the research say on like best practices for feeding babies? Right. So then where we find the gold standard in feeding children is is a feeding philosophy known as a division of responsibility and feeding. And that was created by a registered dietician, Ellen Sattar. And it's been studied and researched and found to be what we call best practice in feeding kids. So as a baby, it's responsive feeding. So it's feeding on demand. It's, you know, it's breastfeeding, not on a schedule, but as your baby or bottle feeding as your baby is interested in eating, and allowing them to eat as much as they want. So, you know, we don't stop the baby from, you know, if the guidelines say 52 ounces of milk, we don't stop them at 52 ounces, sometimes we'll have more, sometimes they'll have less. So that's the feeding philosophy, which starts as responsive feeding, and then transitions into this practice of division responsibility, which essentially says that parents have certain roles and the roles of the parents are the what, when and where feedings. So we get to decide what's on the plate, when it's being offered, and where it's being offered. And the children get to decide from what's provided. Which of these foods do they want to eat and whether or not they're going to eat anything at all. So parents set the environment up, and then kids decide from what's provided what they want to eat. So where I hear a lot of stumbling blocks here is like a family will say to me, Well, I gave them chicken and rice, and blueberries. And all they wanted, he was the blueberries. So do I like do I let them have more blueberries? Like, do I make them have a few bites of chicken like, and I would say to them that we'd want to listen to what the child is asking for. And so if they're asking for more blueberries, if it's in our budget, and we have that available, then we let them have seconds and thirds of whatever food that we provide, because we decided the menu and they decide from the foods that we've provided, which ones do they want, even if that's two cups of blueberries, now financially, that might not be possible for all families. So sometimes, and even in my own household, like sometimes they'll say, You know what, like, we need to save some of those for the lunchboxes, because we don't, I'm not going grocery shopping everyday. So sometimes it doesn't always work out. But in other instances, they I have, they want more rice, so I'm gonna let them have seconds thirds of rice as much as they want, without having the caveat that they have to eat anything else. So that practice really allows children to tune into what their body is asking for. And parents often think that children are going to eat like a balanced plate of a little bit of everything. But what actually happens in most kids is they eat one to two foods per meal, and they eat a larger amount of those things. So like for my own family, like my son might eat, like cheese, like if it's a cheese sandwich, he might just want the cheese and eat, like doubles and triples of cheese, and nothing else. And that's okay, because the next meal, he'll all he'll want is blueberries. And then the next meal, all he'll want is the bread. So if we look at a child's intake, I mean, with some exceptions, like of course, if there's like pediatric feeding disorders, or there's certain conditions like autism or things like that, there's always going to be exceptions. But for the majority of kids when we look at their intake over a two week period, and I've actually personally done this with lots of families who are really worried about their kids eating, we actually see that they even out in terms of their nutrient needs over a two week period. So they might not eat balanced over one day. But they definitely will eat balanced over, you know, a longer period of time. So, so we're allowing children to tune into what their body's asking for, and eating as much of those foods as they want within the parameters of parents setting the meal and snack schedule. So we're not just leaving the cupboard open, and they're having like a free for all eating goldfish all day. You know, we're setting the schedule, we're setting the foundation, we're choosing the meals as parents, but we're not choosing of the foods we provide which foods they can have seconds and thirds of.Chanci Dawn:
Okay, so when you're working with a family, and they're starting to work more on that meal schedule, and the parents plan the meals, and then the kids get to choose from that. What happens if an hour later if it's like, Nope, this isn't when we're planning the snack or planning the meal. And then your kids like, Hey, I'm hungry, because they only ate the carbs. And they didn't have about the protein to balance it or whatever, right. So their body's like, Oh, I'm hungry again. Do you talk about that? Like, if you would have had some protein it would have you would have been able to wait till snack time and like teach them that? Or do you just go okay, here's some snack options or Yeah, what do you do in that situation?Jenn Messina:
Hmm, so good question. So generally we try to advise parents to have meals and snacks for younger children. About every two to three hours. Yeah. And for older children every three to four hours. So you know that would be mimicking more the school schedule. So if they eat breakfast that say 730 You're eight, then snack times at 10 lunches at 1212 30. Snack is at three, dinner's at 530, you know, so that kind of two to three hours for the younger kids, three to four hours for older. So say they only eat like you said they only eat a piece of bread or two pieces of bread for lunch. And then they're hungry. Generally, we don't advise to teach nutrition till the older ages of like, even grade six and seven because nutrition is very nuanced. And so then it's confusing for children to learn about protein and fat and carbohydrate, and how those affect our body. Because it's just, it's a lot more detailed than because there's all sorts of other factors like, you know, if they added more fat to that, like it might help us to tie these actors, and like protein might prevent their blood sugars from rising and falling. So in general, we would just say, I would say from examples of my own governments, I have little kids, I would just say, you know, snack time is actually at three o'clock. So we're gonna go play blocks right now. But next time, maybe make sure you feel your belly or have a little bit more at mealtime so that you have more energy for longer. So I keep it really simple, I don't talk about because again, then it gets into good and bad. So like you only ate the bread, so and so you should have had protein because protein is good, and carbs are bad, you know what I mean? So like, they still can get into that nuance. So in general, I would just advise them and say, for example, one of my children were to only have a few bites of dinner, often I'll warn them, like, just so you know, this is the neck, this is the last meal we're gonna be having for two more hours. So make sure your belly has enough food in it, because we're not going to be yeah, we're just not going to be eating for a while because and then in the beginning, they will test you like if your family is one that snacks like, or your kids want to snack often. And you're trying to set a different foundation, if you're trying to, like I find it's, you know, annoying for kids to be in the cupboard nonstop, because then they don't have a good appetite. It's like unfortunately, like when we let them snack all day, then it sets them up for not eating well at meals, and then they are hungry right away. So we want them to have an appetite at actual meal and snack time and offer a balance of you know, if you're having a snack, it should be like a couple of different things. So think of it as like a mini meal. So not just goldfish, but we would add like grapes and some cheese or we would add some nuts or whatever it is that your your kid is wanting to have as a protein at that meal or snack sorry. But yeah, I think like, if the child is hungry right away afterwards, I would just kind of keep it pretty neutral. They might have a temper tantrum the first few times, but over time, they'll learn that they need to fill up at meal and snack time and they're not going to get to graze in between. So in the beginning, you might need to set like, like I said, some I used to set a timer on my microwave. So they would see they would have a countdown to when it was next time to eat. Or there's also like a visual timer you can get on online that shows the visual countdown. So initially, it will cause a little bit of pushback. But of course, there's gonna be extenuating circumstances when parents really know best in terms of what their kids in need. So say it's a busy day, and they didn't have much of a chance to eat for whatever reason. And you know, you, you want to, you want to kind of adapt and change to what you think is appropriate, like, their kids are going to go through growing streaks, they're going to also, you know, have busier days where they're like more active and be more hungry. So we attuned to also changing the schedule, you know, we can adjust the schedule slightly if we think that it's appropriate. It's not like a hard and fast food rule. It's, you know, it's a guideline I always like to say so, as parents, we get to decide like, what is like for example, say you have like a hot dog for lunch at a birthday party, and cake and they're hungry sooner because maybe they didn't have quite as much as they normally did, then you might adjust your snack times accordingly based on the situation, right? So always, always think of it as like a flexible meal schedule, but trying to think of, you know, those regular meals and snacks to help kind of nail down the timing of eating especially if it's like an unstructured time like the summer or or springtime when things are kind of up in the air on spring break and stuff like that. So that would be my recommendation for that situation.Chanci Dawn:
Okay, thank you such great information. Another question I have, of course, I'm sure this always comes up is the sugar debate. Yeah. Okay, so I studied as a holistic nutritionist and before I had children and then I had my kids and I was ridiculously obsessed with no sugar. So I've changed a lot over the years in my Yeah, it's okay. Like like we often do very similar story went in for my own food hang ups actually got more food hang ups, and then I healed from my food hang ups and yeah, helping others. Right. So the sugar thing it was like it was the devil. Right? And I was terrified of my kids having it. I was terrified of anyone seeing my kids possibly habit like remember once I that I had ice cream with my kids and people knew I was a nutritionist. Then we got the park and I ran into people and I felt shame. And I'm like, Oh, wow, like is this what I'm actually teaching my kids? Right? And I really that it was when that started happening in my kids were starting to have these not disordered but awkward relationships with food that I was teaching them that I'm like, okay, something needs to change. And that really started helping me go, what how, what do I want to do different here? So sugar is a really hard thing for so many parents, right? Because there is this like diet, culture, morality attached to it. There's fear in it. There's just a lot of misinformation. There's, there's just so much out there. And for my kids, I've had to re train them so that they feel not afraid of it. And so can we just talk about that? Right, because I'm aware of it. But most people aren't. Right. Sugar is the monster sugar is the devil and, and teaching the kids this is this is one of the biggest things that concerns me in our culture today. So can we talk about that?Jenn Messina:
Yeah. And so yeah, so I mean, my kids have been really raised in a food neutral home. And, and so I've really tried to emphasize that, like, there are foods who don't have any moral values, but doesn't mean you're good or bad, because you eat a certain way. And then I often say to them, like, all food gives us something. So some foods give us more nutrients and vitamins to grow and other foods give us more joy and pleasure. So my daughter came home from day camp last year, and she said, my camp counselor said that sugar is bad for me. And so we had discussion. What what do you think about that? Well, I like sugar like i It's enjoy. It's enjoyable, as you know, she was saying how she likes it. And so we talked about like, what is healthy mean? Like, what does it mean? What does healthy mean? Like? So healthy to in our family means that food gives us energy to grow and do the things we want to do. But it's also joyful and fun. So, you know, food is all unsocial now say, like, someone will say that's unhealthy. And she'll say, do you know that all foods are healthy? And they'll say what like, all foods are unhealthy interest, they will all foods give us something don't they? Like? And so it's really teaching them and unlearning the mindset that like an even I have trouble with this because for example, my children wanted a Slurpee, and then my mind my like alarm bells are going on. Like, there's absolutely no nutritional value and a Slurpee like a Slurpee is pure sugar and zero else. But then the other little, you know, voice in my head said, well, is what about joy, like, and remembering the times myself as a child got a Slurpee on those hot days, and the joy of enjoying it and the pleasure and having that cool, refreshing taste? And yes, it doesn't have any nutritional value, but it has a value because it's joyful. So, you know, for my kids, like they'll say to me, Well, you know, I don't allow enough stories all the time, like we might have very occasionally. But if they if they say to me on a day that I haven't planned to serve a Slurpee, they'll say, you know, Mommy, can we get a Slurpee? And I'll just say, that's not on the menu for today. You know, so I tried toChanci Dawn:
actually, that one phrase, I saw a real you did, I think, like awhile ago, and that one, it's not on the menu today. I mean, my kids are teenagers, right? But I have these bonus little ones now. Yeah, my partner. I'm like, Oh, my God, that is golden. And that's actually when I was like, I reached out, do you want to be on the podcast? Because that one thing has actually really, really helped with these little bonus kits? Because they're Yeah, it's just not on the menu. And they're like, oh, okay,Jenn Messina:
man, that was totally. So there's no morality, there's no, like, you've had too much sugar already today or anything like that. It's just like, yeah, it's not on the menu. But why don't we add that on the weekend or whatever, like, you can have it another time, right? So, so I get to decide as the parent like when the sugary foods are served. And so like, you know, I, if my kid is at a birthday party, and they're eating cake, and then later they want to have ice cream, I get to decide whether it's something that we have, and sometimes I just say, yeah, it's not on the menu. And I don't really get a lot of pushback, because it's just been part of our dialogue. So I think parents are worried about sugar because they're worried that their kids are gonna be obsessed with sugar and want to eat it all the time. But in restriction leads to obsession. So if you don't allow your kids to eat sweets, then they will be the ones at the convenience store when they're 12 years old, gorging themselves on candy and chocolate and and the Slurpees and all of that that you've worried about for 12 years of their life. So we want to teach them to be around sugar to not fear it to not it's just another thing like now, you know, I put sweets in my kids lunch boxes literally every single day. So there's something Sweet, whether that's gummies, or whether that's a piece of chocolate, like I'm not putting in, like, you know, a pack of candy every day, but it's something small that they can have. And you know, it's funny, I saw this little boy from one of my daughter's classes and he says, Madeline Madeline's mom, you pack the best lunches every day. And I'm not packing anything special. But I do include like, today, they had mini Oreos. So instead of giving them a full pack of it, I opened the package, and I give them a few of them. But they have something every day. So you know, I go to the grocery store with them. And they're not begging for candy or sweets. Like they're not we don't have this like obsession, because it's just part of our daily, our daily routine, like we just have. And like, sometimes I serve dessert with dinner, sometimes I don't again, I get to decide. But I don't have like a lot of there's not a lot of hype with it. It's not like that big of a deal. Which is I think what parents are aiming for?Chanci Dawn:
Yeah, and I really think that's really important, just, as you said, making it neutral. Because even with the restriction of yes, okay, you can have these Oreos, but if you're saying, Oh, here's your sugar, and you better behave after and this veteran, you know, and kind of villainizing it, that even as we know as adults, right, we can have permission, but in the background, there's little those thoughts, and that's actually restriction and then we overeat. Right? Binge. And so that's, I see that, and I think that depth of healing our relationship with food, so then it actually truly is neutral to us. You know, that's so important. So it's not just like, Okay, we're going to print here, have these Oreos, and inside, you're dying, and then your children can actually feel this. It's that important to work on you as you're teaching your kids.Jenn Messina:
And parents don't need to be all the way there to teach intuitive eating to their kids, like, many of us, like, are inundated with cycles, just like we were children. So, you know, maybe that's 3040 years, right? So I think parents often will say to me, Well, I I still am struggling with my own relationship with food. Can I teach my children to have a healthier relationship with food? And I say yes, absolutely. You don't have to be all the way there, there's lots of steps you can take, you know, certain things like not talking about your body in a negative way, right, not talking about earning your food or needing to burn your food, work off your foods. So there's certain things we can say. And also, like, with the Oreos, or whatever, trying to eat some of those foods yourself. It's not just saying they're okay. But also modeling. Like, it's not that you're having a salad and everyone else is having pasta, right? So it's trying to neutralize for yourself and, and focus on, you know, eating this ice cream with my kids is teaching them that all foods fit. And so you know, trying to be present in the moment and, and even though sometimes it can be difficult is, you know, you can still help your children have that healthier relationship with food than you did, by trying to model that you feel comfortable in your body, even if you're not all the way there. But like wearing the shorts, wearing the bathing suit, not talking negatively about your body and, and focusing on other functions. So beauty redefined, which is a page I really like on Instagram, they talk about, like focusing on the body as an instrument, not an ornament. Yes, yes. What can your body do?Chanci Dawn:
Yeah, I love that. And instead of the body positivity, it's more of the body neutrality, as well. And I think that that is key. You know, I love that. So, you know, when you're talking about this not having to be there. I'm like, thank freakin God, because I'm not there. Like I know, you know, I'm like, I'm a coach. This is what I help women with. Right and with young children. And I think that understanding it is a journey. It's a lifelong journey. And when we're inundated with the diet, culture messages, and all of these different things that we've been taught over the years, helping your children learn this raising them this way, and coaching other its other women, it's also a part of your own healing journey in it, right. So definitely, it's like the family learns together. And that's so good. So I have two more questions. So the one Okay, so if if you have not raised your children as intuitive eater, saying they're nine, okay. And your kid thinks sugar is a villain, and there's all of these food rules and all of this stuff, and then you learn this and you're like, oh, okay, what can you expect some like roadblocks some obstacles, as you're now retraining your children in this right showing them food neutrality and Bazi body neutrality and all of that, bring them into this. What can you expect my number one thing that I wonder is if kids are like, I'm gonna eat all the sugar and that's kind of a scary thing because of the me be unbalanced have it in the beginning, before things start to level out. Do you see that?Jenn Messina:
And definitely, yeah. And I think like, first and foremost, you're never too early to start, like I have a family and they've got a two year old and we're already working on body positivity. The little girls in a larger body, like that's just a genetic predisposition, but it's also never too late. So children love hearing their parents say that they've made mistakes. So I think you can say to your, you know, if you're learning about this different way of talking about food, and supporting your kids to have that healthier relationship with food, and this sounds like something that you're interested in, then you can sit down, say, you know, what, I think I've been doing things a little, you know, I've been doing things the way that I've been wanting to, and I think that I've actually been, you know, sending messages that certain foods are good foods, and certain foods are bad foods, which can lead to guilt and shame. You know, you know, you can whatever is going on for your family, you can identify like, I think I've been doing things a little bit backwards, and I'm going to be doing a few things differently. So you're going to be noticing the following, I'm no longer going to be commenting on what you eat. at mealtimes, I'm going to let you eat as much as your body's asking for, we're going to be serving dessert more often, we're going to try to be neutral around desserts. If you want seconds on desserts, the other thing that I often will talk to families about is allowing what we call unlimited dessert sometimes. So most of the time, if you're serving dessert, I suggest having a child sized portion. So you know, I don't suggest having like a whole cake at the dinner table and letting unlimited amounts of dessert. But I would say sometimes offer unlimited amount. So we do this in the form of you know, maybe once or once a week, maybe once every two weeks. We call it unlimited data. So my kids will decide what they want. They'll say I want to they use their piggy bank money, I want to go buy some candy. So they buy candy. And we let them eat as much as they want in one sitting. So usually I recommend doing this in the afternoon. Not right before bed. But they also go for it and they'll eat my kids at this point don't eat a ton, they'll like eat more than I you know what a portion for them on their dinner plate. But they don't eat like, you know, ridiculous amounts, but your child might eat a lot and they might actually barf. So I have had families as they're transitioning to this more intuitive eating style for kids. Like while children are learning their own boundaries around around dessert, they might eat so much that they barf. And I think learning from these moments of feeling really unwell. Like children learn from experience, right? Like if we're teaching a child to walk, we don't hold their hand the whole time we let them fall, right. We've I mean, we keep the boundaries, and we're making sure they're not running into traffic. But we also like let them experience those those falls so that they can learn what it feels like to have too much. And so my own kids like will I'll let them eat to the point like sometimes I'm thinking about oh, my goodness, like, how could they possibly want so much? And they'll they'll eat? And sometimes they'll say I have a tummy ache now. And we'll we'll reflect on it. Oh, do you think it was because you had that second bowl of ice cream like maybe that maybe that didn't feel so good in your body. So then they reflect on that. And then the next time they make a decision, maybe not to have that second scoop or second bowl or whatever it is. So they need to learn from their own kind of experiences. So if you are just getting started on this journey, I think the first and foremost have the discussion with your kids, things are going to be different, these are the changes we're going to be making, and then expect them to test you expect them to ask for second, third, fourth on the bread, if that's something that you normally kind of limited them to one piece, and let them you know, explore and and realize that you're not going back on this, this is going to be forever. And it is hard sometimes for parents to watch. Because they're, especially if your child is in a larger body. And you have restricted them in the past, which we know unfortunately, is is pretty normal, especially in females. So if you have a larger boat, and this is from a place of wanting to help them, it's not like parents are ever trying to hurt their kids. But they're coming from a place of like I don't want you to be in a larger body because you might get picked on you might get bullied you might get teased. So we might restrict kids with the thought of like, if I just don't let them have any sweets or carbs or whatever it is, then they're not going to have that problem. But then we see that what happens is is that it becomes like more of an obsession. So if we are they're secretly eating, eating in their room or whatever. So if we're noticing, like so if you are like loosening the reins, expect your kids to overeat in the beginning. And that's normal. It usually gets worse before it gets better but it will level out. And once they trust you that you're not going to restrict them, then their eating then will level out and become more balanced.Chanci Dawn:
I have a story I one Halloween when I started really learning all of this stuff and I'm like, oh my goodness, okay, how am I going to do Halloween different? And I did that we went trick or treating. My little guy was like, you can eat all your candy. Just go for it. Right and I was terrified. I'm like Oh my god, right. But in the end, he would think he was like seven. It's like, Mom, why did you let me do that now my candy is gone. And I have a tummy ache. But it was amazing because we talked about that he's like, Oh, yeah. And then from there, I started just letting I have three kids, they have candy collections in their room. So they each have a tackle box, like for fishing. And this was scary for me at first too, right? Because as a kid, for me, there was a restriction, I just would have eaten everything all the time, from what we're talking about. And I'm like, You guys, this is, here's your candy, right. And so if we were at a party, or whatever, they would have however much and then they come home and put it in there. We didn't hide it, it didn't. And now they're teenagers. And they all still have these candy collections in there. And I have not had to regulate it at all. Amazing how it has worked. And yes, it was terrifying. And yes, there was wrappers all over the room at first, right? And now, they'll have Easter candy and the next next Easter comes along. They're like, Oh, maybe I'm gonna take this out because it's kind of stale. And I have my new Easter candy to put in there. Yeah. And I just I think it's great because they do have it. And but it's an in it's a way that really is serving their bodies. And that is so fun to me that there's just no hang up on it. And it was harder with my older one because he had more years of me teaching him that to be here to food, right. And my youngest one is just like, Okay, this is just how he what he saw being raised. And it's it's pretty neat. So I love I love what you're teaching and you know, seeing it in my own home and how my kids are now. They have so much more freedom than I ever did. And yes, they still have food hangouts because yes, I still do. Right. So that together, but it's pretty, pretty freakin amazing. The freedom that this brings, you know, this approach. So my last question is, what about blended families? Or co parenting situations, okay, if you have, if your intuitive eating, and you're raising your children like this in this home, and then they go to their other home, and there's the food restriction, maybe there's, you know, all sorts of this stuff going on? How would you encourage people like parents to approach that sort of situation? Mm hmm.Jenn Messina:
And so I think this is a challenging one, because, you know, parents are gonna have very different views on many different things. So food and, you know, rules and boundaries and screen time, and whatever. So, as much as possible, I think, if you have a good relationship with your partner, or ex partner, you know, saying, you know, giving them a bit of information in terms of what you're working on any resources that you can share with them to help guide them and say, like, this is what we're doing this is why so that they're on board as much as possible. But say you have an example of a family. They're really not on board, like they're doing their own thing. They're living in diet, culture still, and you are not. So I think as best we can with our kids, we can just say, in our house, we believe X and our house, we believe that all foods give us something all foods are nourishing, and we don't need to restrict any foods. You know, you might have different roles at your dad or mom's house. But in our house, we believe X y&z So like, you can't do anything, you can't force another family to change. And so I think you can just say reinforce, and this is what I also teach families if their teacher or like it conversely, like if a teacher is teaching food freedom, and you know, intuitive eating, and the parents are not their teachers can say in our classroom, we believe that X, Y and Z and then parents if they're noticing, I mean, you can have a discussion with your teacher too. But I think you can also just reinforce that this is the rules of our house. This is the rules of our family. Just like you know, in our house, we have two hours of screen time a day and dad's house, you have four hours or whatever it is, like in our house, we believe that bla bla bla, so I think you just need to, like try try as best as possible to get on board with the same things. But it's not always going to be possible. And I think that's okay, too. Kids will learn and like same thing like other families. Like I always tell the kids that come to our house for visits or come for dinner. Like I'll always say like in our house, you know, we serve dessert on the plate. And we also say that you don't need to try anything you don't want to you don't need to eat anything you don't want to you can eat as much or as little as anything that comes on your plate. So when they go to other kids houses, my kids, different rules are going to be in different houses, right? So they just need to adapt to whatever the rules are of that family. And know that like your family. These are the rules of your family in your household. So I don't know have you noticed anything different with your blended family?Chanci Dawn:
Oh, for sure. Oh, That's all of these things are coming up. It's funny because I'm like asking you this for my listeners. And I'm like, I really want to ask her this because this this thing we're running into right now. Yeah, yeah, it for sure is. My daughter is 14 and at her dad's home. Her stepmom, definitely I understand she's trying to do it. Like we were saying, for the best for my daughter, right? This is what she believes. But she was encouraging her to fast in the morning as a weight thing, like a weight management thing. And I really, like wow, that was really hard, really hard. You know, when that came back to me and my daughter and I, it she's older. So we were able to have a really good conversation around it. And she actually said, I'm, I'm choosing not to do that for my body. Right? And it wasn't like, my mom says this or whatever. Yeah. And it was really empowering for her. But it's more difficult for the for the younger ones. Yes, where? Yeah, and it can be pretty confusing, I think.Jenn Messina:
Yeah. And I think like, I mean, certain things, I think, for example, is diving behavior as well. We teach dieting behavior. So like, I'm a strong believer that like dieting behaviors predicts eating disorders, and obesity as well, in adolescents as adults, so like if you teach children to diet, so what we're trying to teach them as, as parents, we're trying to help them have a healthy relationship with food, but it's doing the opposite of teaching them dieting. So sometimes it's like, Hey, here's the literature on, you know, dieting practices and kids, if we teach kids to diet, they actually either develop eating disorders often or are heavier than if we just didn't teach them that. Right. So I think sometimes it's about sharing resources. You know, because I think this is our area, it's particularly of interest to us. But sometimes it's like finding the resources and saying, like, hey, like, did you see like this study that actually found these results? So, you know, I would really appreciate it if we didn't teach them dieting practices, because, you know, even though we're well meaning, it actually has these long term detrimental effects. So what we're trying to avoid is actually, we're like, now making that happen, because of what we're teaching them. So yeah, I think like, sometimes it's, it's not,Chanci Dawn:
that's easier said than done.Jenn Messina:
I know to be x. I know, I hear you forChanci Dawn:
sure. And I think that that's where, you know, having the conversations with the kids around, here's the food on your plate, you know, when they're little and what do you want to eat and how much and allowing that it really does off, like open the conversation when they're a bit older, you know, like I had with my daughter, right? So I love that. And then just that empowerment. I'm actually wanting to bring my daughter Celeste on the podcast and interview. Yeah, as a teen being raised as an intuitive eater, right and love that. And I'm really excited for that. She's a little nervous. She's like, I'm not ready for that mom, but she will and I'm really looking forward to it. So yes, but it's it is it's a complicated thing. You know, when you when you really like for me, this is my passion. This is what I've made my life purpose, right. So it's like, ah, the other family and and I know, like the hearts in the right place. So I totally don't want to create drama or chaos around it. Oh, yeah. Lee, but it's like how? Yeah, yeah. No, oh,Jenn Messina:
it's hard. I think like, like, in our household, like, my husband defers like all nutrition stuff to me. So like, so like, so that's where, like, when it's a split family, like it's hard, right? Because you're trying to, you have four different opinions, especially if both parents parents have partners, right? It's four sets of ideas instead of two, which is always gonna be more complicated. So yeah, I think we just do the best we can, right? And like reinforce the messages at our hosts, and then try to in a non like, you know, confrontational way, like, share resources, and share ideas and come at it like, you know, is it possible to try X, Y, or Z and see it, you know, and see if we can come up with like, a collaborative approach rather than that confrontational? Yeah, you know, because I it's hard, right? Because they have, oftentimes the other family will have the children half the time. So you know, it's, it's coming to that balance. Yeah,Chanci Dawn:
it really is. And I think race, right, one of the things I teach so much, obviously, it's like having compassion and curiosity for yourself. That's one of the pillars of my own programs. So then I'm like, How can I have compassion and just get curious here? Yeah, in that approach, as well, so that it doesn't become a weird food fight in a different way. Right.Jenn Messina:
Yeah. Which is also not good either, right? Yeah,Chanci Dawn:
exactly. Exactly. So so I lied. I actually want to ask you one more question. Okay, one more question. Going back to sugar So I know, there's a lot of messages around about sugar addiction, okay, and how it's just as addictive as heroin and all of this stuff, right? There's a lot going around about that. And so I know that there's a lot of fear for parents to be able to say yes, here you go. Sugar is on the menu, for example, yeah, today, because there, there's this thought that it's actually going to the bit brain chemistry is going to cause addiction, and it's not going to be able to self regulate and all of that. Okay, so how do you approach that?Jenn Messina:
Yeah. So I mean, the literature on sugar addiction is really interesting, because Well, for one is done on rats. Yeah. So when we look at rat studies, the only time that we see these addictive like behaviors, is when the rat is deprived or starved of sugar, right? So we don't see children. So addiction, if we think of addiction, like in the traditional sense, like, think of the characteristics of addiction. So, you know, one of the things is like, increasing tolerance, so like you need more and more to like, make you feel satisfied. The other thing is, if you don't have it, you are driven to it more, right? So I mean, there are some things that kind of sound like addiction, but it has, in fact, we haven't seen the addictive characteristics similar to like drugs or alcohol. Like we don't see people going to the grocery store, and drinking that of corn syrup, right? Like it doesn't have that seem. So oftentimes, like a lot of the addictive properties of it, are more like they are we do feel that addictions, but it's more to do with restriction than it is addiction. So if we allow ourselves and we call this habituation. So if we allow ourselves access to sugar regularly, we actually see a decline in the drive to want to eat it. So in habituation, we see the frequent exposure to a stimulus decreases the draw for it. So if you repeatedly allow your kids to have sugar, instead of them wanting sugar more, they're going to want to less. So sugar, it has been debunked in the addictive quality, because we don't see people doing these extreme behaviors to get sugar, like we do in other substances. But it can be scary for parents to let go. But just know that if you are offering sugar more often, it actually has the exact opposite effect of addiction. You're going to actually have kids that want sugar, less like I get lunch boxes now with like, desserts left in the lunch box, so Yeah,Chanci Dawn:
isn't that fun? I have like, I never thought I would do this. Like the past Nutrition has Chansey now I have a treat drawer and it's I'm like, What do you guys want? I'm going there like Oreos, Pop Tarts. I'm like, okay, and I put it in there. And, and there's it's not this like free for all gone. Like it lasts until next shopping day. Not at first, but now it does. And yeah. And I can have Oreo cookies in the house. Now for me, and I forget about them. Whereas in the past, I would have had them and my brain would have been obsessed. And then it's like, I actually remember thinking, if I just eat the whole bag, then it'll be gone. And I won't be thinking about it. And it totally felt like addiction. Absolutely. So I can understand. I totally understand. Yeah, yes. And now I'm like, do I really actually those are kind of like whoring. Like, I've been drawn to them anymore. So I thank you for that. And yes, I just really want to encourage parents to, to, if this is what you want to do, right? If this is if your heart is being pulled in this, like, get support and stay on the path because it's worth it. And yes, it's hard. Yes, it can be scary. Yes, sometimes you're gonna think oh my goodness, like I'm doing the total wrong thing. But no, right. Like research shows, real life shows like this works. So yeah, so thunder percent. Yes. Oh, you are so fun. I literally want to catch the ferry, and go over and visit with you for a while. Like this is great. So is there anything last like a pearl of wisdom you'd love to leave the listeners with?Jenn Messina:
I would just say like, give yourself some compassion as parents, we have so much pressure on us to be perfect at everything be perfect at feeding our kids be perfect at you know, discipline, be perfect to getting them in school, blah, blah, blah, like all this stuff. So I think like have some compassion for yourself. Like we're just people. We were raised in diet culture. So if you have felt like maybe you've been doing things, you know, in a way that isn't super supportive and your kid does, you do seem to think that they have addictions to sugar or whatnot. You're not a failure. You haven't done anything wrong. And just you know, forgive yourself for that because I think, you know, we don't need more guilt and shame as parents. We already have so much pressure on us. To be perfect, that we're all just doing the best we can. And you know, when we know better, we do better. And so we have this opportunity now to change the narrative for our kids. So lean into that, and help it will help your kids but also help you heal your own relationship with food in your body.Chanci Dawn:
Beautiful wisdom. Where can people find you? Number one? That's a question. And I love your Instagram. It's so fun. I don't follow many people because I post and I get off right, but yours I'm like, Oh, she has another real like you guys. You gotta follow Jenn. And she has such a fun feed going on with tons of amazing wisdom. So tell us that where to find you there. And then any offers you'd like to give here? Any programs you have coming up? Yeah, whatever. I didn't ask you that before. So I'm like, Oh, this is interesting.Jenn Messina:
Yeah, totally. So I'm on Instagram, you can find me there. I'm pretty active there. I'm at Jenn, the dietitian. And that's dietician spelled the Canadian way with a T instead of a C. So you can find me there. I'm also on my, on my website, which is Jenn messina.com. Which Chauncey can share. And then I have a program which is open for waitlist right now. It's called body positive kids. So this is a this is a course for parents who are looking to help support their kids to have healthier relationship with food in their body, to change the narrative around how they feed their kids, to talk about movement in a way that's not punishing. So I'm actually revamping the course right now we've run it a few times, with a lot of success. So I'm just revamping it right now. So if you are interested in that is a six week module. And it will be six modules, each broken up into like individual components where parents can watch at a self pace, but also have a community of support and have some one to one time with me as well through some calls. So feel free to drop your name on the waitlist. And I will let you know when that course is open for enrollment. It is pretty popular. So get your name on that. And then you can also if you're interested in chatting with me about yourself or your family, I have a free 15 minute call on my website, which you can click on and find the spot. I'm currently booking about two months in advance. So if you are interested, please get your name in ASAP. You can book straightaway on the website as well, if you don't think you need a call, but you know, you're always open to having a call. And again, it's about two months in advance. So book yourself in there in advance so that you can see me and once you're in so it's a bit of a longer wait for my new clients. That's just because my practice is full. But once you're in you're in and we will make sure to follow up regularly, as regularly as you need to help support you heal your relationship with food.Chanci Dawn:
Wonderful, so good. And we'll have all of that information in the in the show notes. So if you're listening and you're like trying to jot all this down, just go to the notes. All the links are there.Jenn Messina:
We've got Yeah. Thank you so much. ThanksChanci Dawn:
for having me today. Thank you. This has been so great. And I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day.Jenn Messina:
Thank you so much chancy. Talk to you later.