"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What to Eat, What to Eat

Okay, I admit it. I’m a label reader. An affliction my husband didn’t know what to do with when he first met me because he, at the time, ate without discrimination. It became an obsession when I got pregnant, as I systematically began eliminating things from my diet. Artificial sweeteners, dyes, excess sodium, refined flours and sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, nitrates, nitrites, monosodium glutamate, things I couldn’t pronounce. I wouldn’t wash my hair or my body with anything that had sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, dye, “fragrance”, and things that sounded like a lab technician would be confused by them. I was on a rampage to eat and use only things I recognized, only things Caroline (“Ma”) Ingalls could have gotten her hands on. (We’re choosing to gloss over the part where I subsisted on Ocean Water [see also HFCS & Blue 5] from Sonic for about a month or two…)

These days, anyway, it’s a lot less crazy with me. While I don’t like consuming any of the aforementioned, I still do. Soda often the worst culprit of all. I always swore I’d protect my daughter from foods that weren’t food, from edible science and the chemicals claiming to enrich our lives. I wanted honest food. Food that went into the ground (or the barn) by someone’s hand, was treated simply and kindly, and came back out by someone’s hand, to my plate. Easy, right?

No. Not easy at all. She gets lollipops from the doctor’s office, donuts and candies from well-meaning grandparents, offered sports drinks and soda which she happily consumes, ice creams that come in unnatural shades, the sugary peanut butter her father prefers, and bread that would be better off identified as cake.

It’s up to us as parents to find the happy medium. I have friends who have children who have never eaten anything I’ve yet mentioned and subsist solely on organic produce, local eggs and milk, and grass fed meats. I envy those kids. Their moms treat them well, and if I had someone cooking me all that stuff every day, I’d eat it, too. I consider myself blessed that my daughter loves fruit and vegetables, loves sushi, almond milk and, yeah, local eggs, too. It took her almost three years to even like meat, and she’s still a little iffy about it. My girl eats pretty well, I’m going to admit. And those nights when all she wants are French fries aren’t going to get me worried. It’ll be broccoli tomorrow.

MomTip:  If your kids won’t fall for it, and all you can get them to eat is the macaroni and cheese from the blue box, check out Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook Deceptively Delicious, it’s filled with clever and sneaky ways to hide vegetables in foods your children already adore.

Originally written for Kids Fun Plaza magazine on 9/23/2010. Yes, I own my content.

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