Baby & Toddler

My Daughter Wants to Eat Just Like Me

I've been dreaming about this cake for days.

If you are what you eat, then I am slowly becoming a birthday cake this week. But more than that, I’ve realized that I’m a full-fledged, certifiable food hypocrite.

I realized this the other day as I waited excitedly until my husband had whisked our daughter off for a nap. See, that meant I could dive into a slice of chocolatey goodness without Ellie seeing me do it. She would want some, but she is allowed one dessert a day, after dinner–and only if she actually eats said dinner. So as I pushed carrots, grapes, and blueberries at her, visions of icing roses danced in my head.

I caught myself doing it again tonight. I was enjoying a chicken cheesesteak with no second thoughts–until Ellie asked for a piece of the bread. (And yes, you caught me. I don’t keep kosher.) “But it’s white and not nutritional at all,” I whined to myself. Then this hit me: “But you’re eating an entire roll and all the kid wants is a bite. How can you thoughtlessly eat the whole damn thing right in front of her and simultaneously calculate the sugar granules for Ellie?” I tore off a small piece and handed it to her. “Can I have another piece, please?” she asked. Compromise time. “Eat another bean or carrot first,” I told her. She complied, so I did, too.

“Eat as I say, not as I do,” has sneaked up as my unofficial mantra when it comes to my 2-year-old. The funny thing is that my nutritional plan for her is way better than mine is for myself, and I consider myself to be someone who makes decent food choices–cheesesteak and b-day cake notwithstanding. (My birthday was last week and my husband’s is this week, so there is no shortage of delicious baked goods here this time of year.) But I allow myself a lot more leeway than I give her, and most of the time I shrug it off as controlling her sugar and junk intake while I can.

The irony of it all is that Ellie has a much better off-switch than I have. When she is full, she is done. Even if that means there’s still ice cream in her bowl.

I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions this year, so I will make one for my 35th year instead: To have my cake and let Ellie eat it, too.

Stephanie KanowitzStephanie Kanowitz is a mother of two who moonlights as a freelance journalist. A Florida native now living in Virginia, she has worked as a copy editor, web editor, and freelance writer and editor since earning a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida in 2000. In 2006, Stephanie earned a master's in News Media Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. She writes about arts and culture, business, fitness, real estate, and technology, and she's also done several celebrity Q&As. Stephanie also teaches Spinning classes at local gyms. It's the one time a week when she can tell people what to do without them answering back. To see her work, please visit

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