In my preparation for motherhood, I've been thinking a lot about how kids eat today. If you're a parent or not, you can't ignore the convenience products in bright & fun packaging on grocery store shelves and promoted rather effectively on television. Yogurt in tubes, purple colored ketchup, and cookies in "fun" shapes. Everything possible to entice kids to eat. Except it's so hopped up on preservatives, salt and sugar, that kids today never really know how tasty real food in it's pure form can be. I have some pretty strong feelings about this, so I'm trying to be careful and not go on a rant. I can only tell you that over the last 1.5 years that hubby and I have transitioned from processed foods to whole foods, I've discovered that my palate has suddenly come alive. There's so many flavors that I didn't even know existed. It's enhanced our lives in numerous ways and I doubt we'll ever go back to our old ways.
During the adoption process, hubby and I have been asked to reflect and write down our parenting philosophies. This is such an abstract question and it's really hard to know where to begin. One of the hopes I have when we are parents is that we'll be able to share our joy of nutritious healthful food with our kids. I've been thinking a lot about how to bring up "thoughtful eaters." And I've come to a few conclusions.
1) Plant a vegetable garden. It's incredibly empowering to order seeds, plant them, nurture their life, and eventually harvest them and add them to your meals. I think it instills a sense of wonder to watch it happen before you eyes.
2) Visit an organic farm. Talk about seasonal eating with your kids and let them discover for themselves the difference between a strawberry in January and one picked in the summer.
3) From a very early age, have your child eat exactly what you eat. I've been inspired by some of my friends who are parents who placed steamed broccoli and fresh pineapple on their 2 year old's plates. And when talking about food with your kids, nothing should fall in the "good" or "bad" categories. Just practice moderation. And don't use food as a reward or a punishment. Developing healthy relationships with food at a young age will be the best gift we can give.
4) Even though your young child can't run heavy machinery in the kitchen yet, there's no reason they can't be your sous chef by tearing pieces of chicken apart or separating orange slices for a salad. Involving your child in meal planning and cooking may encourage them try new food you introduce.
5) Pack lunch for your child - even if you do it the night before. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but it will definitely be healthier than those shrink wrapped plastic trays of "food" sold for your convenience.
Now, I know I'm taking a big risk by sharing my theories of parenting a child with you. I don't have a child yet and I'm kind of afraid you'll think I'm making unrealistic suggestions. But I do know that there's nothing more important than our health and well being. I really believe this is a life long gift we can give our kids.
So, I'm getting my practice in now and I've started to pack lunch for my hubby. He's been working very long hours recently and has been eating late. I decide to purchase a modern day "bento box" from Laptop Lunches. You can find their products at www.laptoplunches.com.
Today's lunch consisted of aromatic lime-peanut whole wheat linguine with sugar snap peas, sliced fuji apple, spring mix (from the CSA!) with goat cheese & cranberries and a mix of pistachios, walnuts, pecans and cashews. The little blue box off to the side contains some homemade dressing. Each laptop lunch comes with a case with a place to insert an ice pack inside.
I'm curious to hear what you're doing to encourage your kids to eat well and have a positive relationship with food. Please share in the comments section!