My children are opposites when it comes to their eating habits. My daughter would enthusiastically sample every item at a buffet while my son would put three or four things on his plate—at best.

At times, it’s frustrating to have a child with limited food preferences.

That’s why it’s irritating to witness social media content perpetuating food fears in children.

I’ve seen videos of parents coaching their kids to identify "harmful" ingredients on food labels. And I’ve read comments praising kids for rejecting foods they’ve been taught to view as “bad.”

Nicole Rodriguez, registered dietitian of Enjoy Food. Enjoy Life., says this fixation is known as orthorexia. It is characterized as an obsession with “healthful” eating that can impair overall wellness, from malnutrition to mental health. Nicole notes this style of disordered eating is often portrayed online as a representation of social status, wealth or self-importance.

When influencers share these harmful messages, it fuels misinformation that leads families to avoid food groups like lean animal protein or nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables if they cannot afford influencer-recommended products.

That’s why Nicole uses tools like the Safe Fruits and Veggies pesticide residue calculator to assure families conventionally-grown produce—often a more affordable option—is safe.

The calculator shows my son would have to eat 181 strawberries in one day to experience any harm. To unnecessarily deny him his favorite fruit would mean missing out on Vitamin C to protect his immunity and further limit his menu.

Plus, many people don’t realize organic farming still uses chemicals. However, rigorous testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows families to feel confident purchasing whatever foods fit their budget and lifestyle.

“We need to reassure kids what’s at the grocery store is safe to eat—unless it’s Tidepods,” says Nicole.

Many of her clients also grew up with “almond” parents, a moniker for those who follow a restrictive diet culture. These unhealthy habits often trickle down to children.

“Now that they’re adults, they don’t know how or what to eat,” she says.

That’s why she emphasizes the importance for parents to model healthy behavior, giving kids a variety of food choices and letting them trust their instincts.

Her all-foods approach empowers me as a parent to foster a healthy relationship between my children and food. I’ll continue to teach them no foods are off-limits, and the only “bad” ones are those that are spoiled or rotten. This way, when my son is ready to explore new tastes, he can do so confidently and make choices that feel right to him.