Friday, May 23, 2008

Packing lunch, among other things...

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

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!


sharon said...

wow...i didn't realize that you were trying to adopt. so exciting!

jessicabaim said...

I pack lunch for my hubby (used to be daily, since baby it's more like once a week)--today he got a pb&j sandwich, apple, yogurt, and goldfish crackers!

dp said...

You seem to have a very positive food philosophy and I know it will rub off on your kids. Kids just mimic their parents when it comes to food. Not so much by eating what their parents will eat with gusto, but just they way they approach food in general. We never allow Sonny to eat and watch TV, not even a snack, but so many of his friends do it. We always eat at the dinner table and no TV is allowed during dinner. So whenever he's going to eat, he turns off the TV and comes to the table. If he gets up from the table, that means he's done. No going back and forth. We never force him to eat anythign, but I don't make him a separate meal either. He can get a few crackers if he's really hungry, but we don't want him to get the idea that some food is for adults and others for kids. Does he eat every single vegetable i put in front of him? No, but he eats quite a few. Do we let him eat mac and cheese. Absolutely. He gets at least one day a week where he can choose and it can be anything he wants. The adults also eat it too.

Anyhow way longer than I intended, but I also feel very strongly about it.