I grew up eating bologna sandwiches but now that my thinking about food has evolved -- thank you Fast Food Nation, Morgan Spurlock and Michael Pollan -- I can't even look at a hot dog or a chicken finger. Still, both are often in my shopping cart because they are among the few items my 6-year-old daughters will consistently eat.
Same with sugar. I have read countless articles about how sugar, not fat, is the root of all nutritional evil and my kids eat ice cream or some kind of dessert every night.
They are skinny kids. This is not about weight (for now). But I find myself having a crisis of conscience about the fact that I have different standards for my food than I do for theirs.
I'm not exactly sure how my girls got such a narrow palette but I think there's a chicken and egg situation going on with their pickiness and my reliance on giving them what I know they'll eat. They don't eat much. And their not eating would make me panic.
To be fair, they eat some vegetables and fruits, it's just that there are not many. When they were babies, ironically, they used to be far more freewheeling. They ate avocado, berries, tofu, roast turkey, hard boiled eggs. Now, when I make eggs -- my favorite food -- they run from the kitchen and say they can't stand the smell.
Forcing them always backfires. They shut down and won't eat anything. There are tears. A friend once told me when her kids refused to eat broccoli she fed them only broccoli for days until they caved. Part of me was impressed, but I'm sensitive to making the whole thing into a trauma. How do you impart the concept of healthy eating without making food an "issue"?
I try to take them with me to the grocery store and we talk about what's what. They know soda is not good for you and that foods with chemicals and a long list of ingredients that sound scientific are not healthy choices. We joined a CSA to try new vegetables. I got a NutriBullet -- that high speed blender from the infomercials -- to make smoothies. My daughter agreed to sample my favorite (frozen blueberries, avocado, kale + coconut milk) but gave up after one sip.
I realized presentation allows for some opportunity. My younger one will try new things if they're on my plate not hers. She'll pick at my chicken with garlic and onions, pluck the tomatoes and cucumbers out of my salad. If she likes it, my dinner is all gone. (Curiously, if I give her the same things a week later and remind her that she liked it when I had it, we're back to square one.)
Breakfast has proven to be the most challenging meal of all. To get some protein into my girls on a school day, my husband has become a master of short order French toast. But then they wash it down with a that sugary drinkable yogurt they love -- basically a milk shake -- and I feel partially defeated.
Now and then, though, I do sense progress. Yesterday one of them announced that it was a big day at school. I expected to hear about an art project or the giant train station they'd set up in her classroom. Not so. "I tried cabbage, Mama!" she said super proud, "And I liked it! You should try some."
Do you ever feed you children something you regret?
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