Friday, October 12, 2012

I feed my kids real food...

So you can feed them junk!

It has come to my attention lately that what we feed our children varies immensely from home to home. And I'm not talking about cultural differences, I am talking about standards.  What one family considers healthy, another wouldn't even touch, and another does not even consider whether or not it is healthy to begin with.

I openly admit to being a good snob.  I only buy meat at Whole Foods or from a local ranch/butcher, and even then we only eat meat/fish about once or twice a week.  I never buy anything from the dirty dozen list that is not organic, including when these items are added in as ingredients in another product, applesauce being an excellent example.  I buy free range, vegetarian fed, organic, omega-3 eggs, for at least three times as much as other people pay for eggs, questioning my decision each time.  I spend an immense amount of time reading and learning about our food system, nutrients, pesticides, fertilizers, supplements, etc.  I volunteer to bring "treats" for my daughters class for every celebration, so that I will know what goes into those snacks.  For the same reason I avoid potlucks and eating "other people's food".  I know I sound crazy.

I am crazy in fact.  I am not the hovering mother type, and I try to let my children have as much freedom as they can developmentally handle, plus a little bit more!  But when it comes to food I am much more conservative.  I am not 100% convinced that all the precautions that I take are necessary,  but I continue learning and changing as I see fit.

Every night, or just about,  I make a heathy, well balanced meal for our family.  I make 99.9% of our food from scratch and enjoy doing it.  We serve dinner at the dinner table and we all sit and eat together, talking about our day.  I try to always make sure that there is at least one component of each meal that is familiar and well liked by the children, because what I make for dinner is for everyone and that is all there.  I don't do separate meals for my children, and if they don't like what we are having then they go to bed hungry, and I know that they will eat a big breakfast the next day.  I also know that they will not starve or suffer from not enjoying one meal with us.  On the rare occasion that this does happen, I try to make sure that breakfast the next day is something that they really like, to fill their bellies!  We love the motto, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!"

Thanks to this strict policy in our home, my children are both very good eaters.  Of course there are things that they do not like, and they go through picky phases now and then, but we stay the course and  everything usually works itself out.

So the other day I offered to bake the cupcakes for the cupcake decorating part of the fall festival at my daughter's school.  I suggested pumpkin cupcakes, and was quickly informed by the room parent that most children do not like pumpkin and that chocolate and vanilla would be preferred   I was surprised by this response.  In my house any dessert is well received  and my kids love pumpkin cupcakes.  The room parent later admitted that her kids have probably never really tried them,  but she doesn't think they would like them.   I see where they get their tastes from.  I agreed to do chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and make the frosting from scratch to avoid canned stuff.  I am okay with treats, I just prefer them to be homemade with good stuff.

I know I can't control everything that they eat, but I do what I can.  I also educate them what kinds of things are in some of the packaged and prepared foods, so that they are aware what they are putting into their bodies.  They also know that a little bad stuff now and then isn't so bad, it is just when you eat that stuff all the time that your body gets sick.   We strive for "everything in moderation"!  The point is that I feed my children healthy, wholesome food the majority of the time, so when they are faced with junk, I  will know that: 1-It won't kill them to have it so infrequently, and 2-It is often so different tasting from what we eat at home that they don't really like it anyway.  This is what works for us.  How do you feel about packaged, processed, artificially flavored and/or colored foods?  Do you think about this stuff as much as I do?


  1. Amy, you rock. :) I'm also pretty obsessed with food. We're lucky to belong to a CSA so I know everything I get there is top quality, but I also spend time and money to ensure everything I feed my family is healthy and toxin-free. I make my baby's food from scratch every two days; most moms think I'm nuts and feel this takes so much time, but it's really easy and it's a priority. I think when something is a priority it's not "work" but something you look forward to.

    A few days ago at the park I heard a boy invite another to dinner. The invitee asked what was for dinner, and the first boy said "ravioli". The second boy said "I don't like ravioli" and then moments later asked "What's ravioli?". If we as parents approach our child's nutrition with the expectation that children don't like vegetables or "strange" foods, our kids will pick up on that!

    At a party the other day, I fed Zach the stuffing from dolmas (grape leaves) and bulgur salad. He loved the vinegary rice stuffing and the salad, too. My husband was surprised and said as much, but why wouldn't Zach enjoy tasty flavorful food?

    1. I agree, young children who are given a variety of "strong" flavored food seem to prefer that as they develop their own tastes. For example, Preston prefers guacamole over plain avocado :)

  2. Amy,
    Thanks for writing this! I feel crazy that I do this to a lesser degree, but I have my own version of crazy. I wish I only shopped for meat at whole foods. I don't trust Sprouts or TJ's as much but their prices do work.

    I hear over and over that children don't like this and don't like that, and it seems ridiculous to me. I also find it it's more than the adults that don't like it. If that's all there is, a child will eat it. Oh, pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting.. mmm.. That was N's 3rd birthday "cake". This year we did pineapple upside down and I did it in a cast iron and oh my god, it was so good:)

    Thanks for posting. We should swap dinners one day:)

    1. If you guys could see the "food" that is available for purchase at the public school Isabel attends you would die! Snow cones, chocolate milk, pizza, etc. They can even just buy the treats, no requirement to get something healthy with it!