As a parent, I hate being mostly responsible for making sure my children are given the nutrition they require.
I mean, no matter how many kale and spinach-infused fruit smoothies I
force down their little throats, I’m not sure it makes up for the
ridiculous amounts of plain macaroni noodles they eat. Or the peanut
And I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about their
nutrition. Some call me, let’s just say overenthusiastic, which is
probably much nicer than what they say behind my back. I like to be
conscientious of their diets. I try to buy and use as many natural and
whole ingredients as I can find and afford and I limit snacks to fruit
or pretzels, yogurt or cheese. Sometimes there are some crackers thrown
They do not drink any powdered drink mixes, which in my childhood
days were referred to as “The Kiss of Death” by my parents, so I have
absolutely no desire to share that nutritionally worthless,
overly-sugared drink with my still-developing children.
Heck, even juice is limited in my house, and when it is given, it’s
100 percent, no-sugar-added juice. And really, I don’t understand why
there are other options available. What’s the point? It’s all sweet
enough without high fructose corn syrup.
But my point is that it’s stressful. Some days the kids eat whatever
is put in front of them. And then there are days like a day last week
when pretty much everything I’ve tried to give them has failed miserably
and so to compensate — and also put everyone in a better mood — we went
out for milkshakes.
So I’m almost positive they are not receiving the ultimate nutrition
they are supposed to, even with the kale smoothies, which are
delicious, by the way. But I want them to at least have a good base.
When they are older, I want them to know carrots are better for them
than a chocolate bar, and to more often than not choose the carrots. I
want them to know nutrition is important, that when you eat better,
whole foods, your entire body feels better.
Of course, I do not always practice what I preach. Unfortunately I
am a little too addicted to coffee and sodas are my not-so-secret guilty
pleasure, only indulged in on the weekend.
But for the most part processed foods are limited as much as
possible. Lord knows I love sweets, but when we have them, mostly they
are homemade. Except of course for that pile of Valentine’s Day candy my
son brought home from preschool.
And so I worry. Every day. Which is why I’m excited about the Child
Nutrition Reauthorization Bill. From what I’ve read, it seems school
menus will be filled with healthier options. As much as I loved my high
school’s chicken patty sandwiches, they are not what I would prefer my
children to eat.
So maybe I can breathe a little easier when the oldest starts
kindergarten. That’s one less meal I have to worry about. I will not be
in control of it, yet I can trust he still will be eating food I would
consider worthy of his little body.
I am not naive. I know there’s only so long that I can force my kids
to eat broccoli by hiding it in spaghetti sauce, or spinach by hiding
it in fruit smoothies or pizza sauce. And you’d probably be surprised to
know that I am not as rigid as this essay would sound. We do eat
chicken nuggets on occasion and both the kids love mac and cheese.
But nutrition is important. And fast food, while both fast and food, is not an acceptable, everyday option.
And the more diligent I am about it now, hopefully, the easier it
will be for them to make the right food choices later in their lives.
But even so, there’s always a place for milkshakes on a bad day, right?
*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on February 22, 2012.