Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kids and Food

I wrote yesterday about cooking; today, I'll follow up on that with one of my biggest cooking frustrations: making food for my kids--more specifically, making healthy food for them and getting them to eat it. Honestly, getting them to eat anything is tough enough, but they're much more likely to eat junky food than stuff that's good for them.

It doesn't help, of course, that I have really particular ideas now about what "healthy" is, but that's another question.

Sugar is the big thing--our older daughter (almost 4) is particularly addicted to sugar. Her typical breakfast is oatmeal with maple syrup--we could be doing worse, of course, but it seems like a lot of carbs, especially since she pretty much won't eat it without visible pools of maple syrup. On those days when she has pancakes instead of oatmeal, she has to be able to see the maple syrup--if it's soaked in, there's not enough. Our younger daughter (c. 20 months) isn't quite so desperate for sugar--I don't put as much on her oatmeal, and she'll eat pancakes absolutely plain. Also, she drinks a fair bit of milk, but her older sister will only drink chocolate milk. There was a time when both of the girls would eat plain, unsweetened yogurt, but neither of them will stand for that now.

For other meals, their staples are pretty much pasta, pizza, sandwiches. There are occasional promising signs--for instance, last week our older daughter wanted a bit of my omelet with spinach, and went on to eat quite a few bites and say she'd like to have an omelet for breakfast... but whenever it comes down to it, she wants oatmeal, not omelets. Both of the girls will generally eat egg whites (seriously? You don't like the yolks?), and they occasionally go in for meat (usually chicken). Thea will sometimes eat fish (the first time she ate it, she polished off about half of my double order of sashimi salmon), both other times she'll turn up her nose at it.

That might be the most frustrating part. I mean, sure, it's frustrating when I make something that I think the girls should like, and they don't; but it's really frustrating when I make something that they have liked in the past and they won't eat it.

The thing is, it's hard to really hold any of this against them. I was a kid who would eat my mother’s Rice Chex, or Rice Krispies, with one hand on my cereal spoon and one hand on a sugar spoon, pretty much putting sugar on every single bite of cereal that I ate. And that was just went I wasn’t pounding the sugary cereals directly. So for the girls to at least be eating oatmeal, and for that matter oatmeal that’s been soaked with whey to (one hopes) neutralize the phytates, it would seem like they’re not off to such a bad start. Whether it’s my genes or what Lauren ate while she was pregnant, or just the human disposition to freaking love sugar, there it is. I might wish that we’d never let them go down the road of even knowing that foods like some of the stuff they eat exist, but we are where we are, and in a lot of ways, it made sense at the time.We had different nutritional priorities ourselves when we started this thing, we were busy, yadda yadda yadda. I'd like to think that this will all be easier when they're both a little older and we might be able to reason with them... except that that magical time when children become reasonable... might not happen until sometime after they've gone to college and moved out on their own.


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