This weekend I ran home after my son’s soccer practice to make post-soccer lunch for him and some of the neighborhood kids. I love this role. This is where I feel can totally shine as a Mom. I hate to toot my own horn, but really I’m so good at this kind of thing it’s ridiculous. And this was one of those days. In about 7 minutes flat, I made grilled cheese on wheat (one with turkey for my lactose intolerant boy who really can’t have too much cheese despite how much Lactaid he takes), peeled and cut up raw carrots, cut up fresh picked apples (and doused with a little orange juice to prevent browning- neat trick), and grabbed hummus, paper plates, and napkins. Done and I was back at the field even before they knew I was gone. Even my other RD friend, who similarly ran home to get food for her crew asked, “Did you really just peel all those carrots?” I sure did!
This is what I did NOT do. I did not bring chips. I did not bring cookies. I did not bring juice. I brought healthy and balanced and nourishing food for a hungry pack of growing boys.
Do you remember as a kid a parent offering you a food that you didn’t want to eat, immediately followed by, “Well if you were hungry, you would eat this. You must not be hungry then.” How annoying was that?! Well, it’s also true to some extent. And during my childhood, it still didn’t get me to eat raisins or dates or eggplant or some other unmentionables. But it DID get me to eat (and enjoy) raw carrots and celery and even red peppers (sometimes).
About three years ago when my boys were much younger (and one not in existence yet), I was busy making dinner and the only food item that was done with asparagus. This was definitely not a family favorite. I chopped up fresh asparagus into pea-sized bites, and sautéed them with olive oil, a little salt and Smart Balance. This was the first food item that made it on their plates. My boys were starving. They were also mad. Hey, I was moving as fast as I could (I think I can, I think I can…)! And after about 5 minutes they each gave up and started to eat asparagus! I didn’t force them to. It was the only food available and they gave it a go. I wasn’t important whether they took 3 bites or finished “all gone.” It was important that a relatively less commonly served food item was on their plate and when they got hungry enough, they STILL ate it.
Kids may not always eat everything you introduce, especially the first time around. The important fact to remember is to KEEP serving the good stuff. Don’t cave. Don’t be the “popular” parent who shows up to soccer games with lollipops and gummy bears and chips and other non-essential foods that really do nothing for your child’s growth. (Better to save that for special occasions, like when you need them to be quiet because the sitter bailed and you have to bring your kid into work with you.)
Keep making the good stuff. And as a reminder, we ALWAYS eat better when we are together.