...in no particular order.
I have been wanting to write something about certain concerns regarding some of the candidates that are running in the November elections. After a few rough drafts, I came to one of those bigger questions about this blog, namely: what is my goal in all of this writing? It is, primarily, to offer this mother's perspective, in all it's humor and honesty, and to share some of my experiences parenting. Many of us have very strong feelings regarding our choices of candidates and the future of the country. I know I certainly do. But I need to put that aside to be able to keep together the community of mothers that read this blog. So, for those of you who know me and were waiting for my particular view on these matters, I will have to disappoint.
I've said this before, but I think we do much more good coming together than tearing apart. And there wasn't a whole lot of "complimentary" going on in those rough drafts.
Kid Food For Thought
Lately, I've been pondering our propensity to serve "kid" food to our children while we adults actually eat well. Have you looked at a kid's menu at a restaurant lately? Grilled Cheese, Mac-n-Cheese, Deep Fried Fish/Chicken Strips, and the ever-present PB&J. Oh, and they all come with fries or tater tots. When I was a kid, the menu had other things on it: Salisbury steak, spaghetti, meatloaf. You'd never find peanut butter and jelly or hot dogs on the kids menu. We ate better, maybe. And we certainly ate a more sophisticated --and far less deep fried-- diet than our children are being offered now.
Taking a cue from these menus, a lot of families "serve separate" at meals. That is, their children are not given the opportunity to cultivate their palate, but are instead fed the standard "kid accepted" meals. When children are first born, the conversation between mothers is all about sleep. When did they sleep, for how long? You know the drill. A child's eating preferences quickly replaces sleep as a subject for one to wring their hands over.
Of course, when our babies are first eating, we do fuss. It's not in our culture to feed a baby steak. No, we get our babies food that is appropriate; some of us are radical enough now to skip the rice cereals while others go gung-ho on the cereal. However we do it, eventually they grow out of the baby food phase. This is great on one hand and a challenge on the other. What do we feed our kids?
Everything we eat, but slightly modified. For example, smaller portions and pieces. Less rich sauces. Lighter on the seasoning. I'm not suggesting blackened salmon for a one and a half year old-- too much everything. But we can serve healthy snacks without buying into the constant crackers and empty calorie foods that are part of the kid culture. Our son gets a breakfast of yogurt, fruit and scrambled eggs. Lunch is often refried beans with cottage cheese and corn, or hummus and some other fruit or vegetable. He readily eats a good variety of fruits and steamed veggies. We do serve him a few crackers a day, but take care that they aren't straight sugar. Health Valley makes a nice oat bran graham cracker that we all like; they are small and he has 4 or so a day. He likes pretzels too, and multi-grain crackers, but again, moderation.
I'm not concerned about his weight. I'm more concerned about setting him up for diabetes later on in life. I myself am insulin resistant and had gestational diabetes. My son is at a higher level of risk and that's why we have to do our best not to create a habit of snacking on empty carbohydrates. We are trying to set familiar patterns now, so that he can make good choices later on. If we snacked the way we are conditioned to let our children snack, would we be healthy? It's a question worth keeping in mind when we shop for our kids at the store and when we put food on the table.
Here's one way to do it: make a meal and offer at least two foods you know your child likes. Be it bread and blueberries or a pasta and meatballs (so what if they skip the salad this time?) they won't go hungry. Avoid custom made meals, instead, offer a healthy snack if kids are hungry directly before meals --this will ensure that they don't fill up on just any old thing, and make mealtimes more pleasant because the kids aren't tired and starving, just possibly tired-- and serve the meal with as little fanfare as possible. Parents regularly do themselves in by trying to hype up a food they don't think their kid will like. Kids are smart; they can spot a con job and know that you are desperate for them to eat. Don't go there. It gives them the idea that they have leverage which to negotiate. And negotiating when everyone is tired and hungry can just become a meltdown (of the parental or juvenile kind) waiting to happen.
That's my two bits. Feel free to comment. I'm hoping to keep a running dialogue on the subject as it's a big issue with parents.
One Last Thing
When you are cleaning out your container drawer, or just bored for a new something to do, match your lids and containers up and bring them out. Let your kids build a tower or two. This is Joaquin's new favorite, and we love it. Great rainy day activity for older kids, too, to match up the tops and bottoms. See how tall they can build that tower up!