How do unschoolers learn what to eat?
A segment aired on Good Morning America last week raised a buzz over "unschooling," the practice of keeping your kids out of school and allowing them to live an unstructured life without offering any formal academics -- or really much guidance at all.
The idea is that kids freed from the fetters of formal schooling (or even traditional home schooling) can explore the world on their own terms, learning what they need, when they need it.
That philosophy applies to all aspects of the unschooled life -- including what kids eat.
Of course, parents buy the groceries. But according to the unschooled way, kids are allowed to make their own food choices about what and when to eat.
Proponents argue that kids left to follow their own compasses are likely to make (mostly) sound food choices and, better yet, they won't be saddled with the weight of the food- and diet-related anxiety that plagues so many of us.
Sandra Dodd, a New Mexico mom who runs a Web site and blog devoted to unschooling, maintains a page on her site featuring anecdotes from unschooling parents about their kids' eating habits. Not surprisingly, most of the tales are of kids' making good choices.
I'm not eager to leap into the fray over the merits of unschooling in general. But it has me thinking about whether following our natural instincts would lead us all, kids and grownups alike, toward a more healthful diet. Or do we really need to be told what to eat?
It's a compelling question, especially as we await delivery of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That document, the product of myriad meetings, discussions and hearings, will be full of information about how we should manage our diets, and Americans will be urged to follow its advice. Of course, the guidelines are one of the weapons in the battle against the food industry's incessant advertising and other efforts to convince people to eat their products, whether they're good for us or not.
But before 1980, when the first Dietary Guidelines were issued, we somehow muddled through without them. And, as I blogged last week, it's increasingly confusing to sort through all the food-related advice that's floating around the world these days. I find myself wondering whether there exists a purely instinctive, natural approach to eating that I've completely lost touch with? If so, it sure would be great to connect with it.
Maybe those unschoolers are onto something, after all.
What do you think? Please take today's poll and leave a comment below, too!
Let's tweet about what to eat! Find me and the other Local Living writers at @wposthome/local-living. And keep track of my "Me Minus 10" effort to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50 at twitter.com/jhuget.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
April 26, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Teens
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