It is something most of you probably worry about when starting a new activity or school for your child…the snacks. That moment when you see the snack sheet full of processed foods like Oreos and Chips Ahoy and you at once cringe at the thought of your child eating these foods, yet also long for your child to be ‘normal’ and enjoy a shared snack with new friends.
The Dreaded Snack Menu
If obesity is now designated as a disease, then why should our ‘real food’ kids be diagnosed as ‘healthy eaters’ as if it were some kind of ‘special need’? These days, being a ‘healthy eater’, is to be abnormal. To feed your kids healthy food is to be a mother who is depriving her kids of their childhood.
“Oh for goodness sake, just let the child have the cookies and candies. It won’t hurt them.”
“You know you won’t be able to control what they eat forever. You might as well let them have the junk and at least be exposed to it lest they gorge themselves on it.”
“We used to eat those foods all the time and we are fine.”
“A little sugar isn’t going to hurt her. You are killing her childhood.”
The problem this argument exposes so eloquently is that we have put cost and convenience ahead of health. Obesity affects one in three children yet, because of the way our food system is set up, it is far cheaper to serve the same packaged snacks of Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Goldfish to every child across America than to have them eat a piece of whole fruit. It is far more convenient to serve snacks out of pre-sealed packages than it is to take the time to cut up fruit. It is also convenient to give kids what one is certain they will eat instead of what they should eat.
Frankly, we all do. To drive the perception that money and convenience is more important than the future health of our nation’s children and to shame them into thinking that eating properly is different or boring is to condemn them to a life of processed foods, ill health, and malnourishment not to mention low self-esteem.
What gave me pause in this article was that only two parents came forward to complain about these snack choices. When will the tide turn?
I, for one, will not back down to parental peer pressure and accept the not so gentle nudges and comments about my uniqueness in feeding my daughter real food. I can take the heat and blaze a path forward. I have a very thick skin. While I know we cannot eat only real food 100% of the time, I use the times that we do not eat it as a chance to discuss with my daughter how different the processed food tastes from our own and how it makes us feel. I know that I cannot control what she eats forever, but at 4 years old I can certainly flavor her world with real food so that when she is grown she will remember what real food tastes like and how good she felt while eating it. And you know what? I fed her ice cream made from fresh raw cream for breakfast last week. I can assure you, she is not missing out in all of the fun!
What do you think? Is this something you struggle with on a daily basis? What do you do about it? Share your comments please for the benefit of every real food mama or daddy. Our community is what helps to strengthen our resolve to nourish our children.
Please check out the new First Bites preschool curriculum and see if your school can sign up to the pilot program in the Fall.
I also encourage you to check out the educational materials from Nourishing Our Children which is celebrating their 8th anniversary with a nice bundle of their materials for a great price. Nourishing Our Children is a non-profit and their video was the first that I saw that helped explain to my friends and family about proper nutrition.