I’ll Probably Go to Hell for This…

…but I’m pretty sure it also makes me the best mom EVER.

This is Olive; she is four:

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Yes, I know. You’ve never seen such an adorable, intelligent, and thoughtful young lady. I’ll give you a minute to soak the majesty that is Olive in.

Enough majesty.

Enter prunes:

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I’m sure you can see where this is headed:

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Yep, she’s eating them. She’s totally not complaining either. I tricked my kid into thinking those were a treat. She thinks they’re candy. I’ve no doubt ruined her for the future (her name is Olive for goodness sake, tell me she won’t hate me for that when she’s 16) but I have ensured that whenever she reaches for comfort food, prunes will be one of the things she reaches for. Assuming a kind grocer will point her to the produce section after she spends a frantic hour in the candy aisle unable to find them. 

I have no idea whether or not your kid eats fruit, but I know that mine does, and usually pretty happily. She is as healthy as an ox and full of energy (of course, that might be more because she is four). I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to run a house where fruits and veggies are eaten, because it saves us a lot of hassle in the long run. Olive knows that no foods are off limits (except anything that used to breathe) but she knows that some foods don’t make her feel good and some do. She doesn’t think the good foods are yucky and I don’t have to hide them inside of other foods.

The thing that sucks about these results is that you have to train your kids to behave this way. Olive doesn’t live in a house where we eat McDonalds once a week and something called “tater-tot casserole” (which was ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, and tater tots. You want the exact recipe? Call my mom). She lives in a house where every meal comes with a fruit of veggie (often both) and we don’t drown them in salt, oil or dressing. We just eat them, sometimes with a teensy bit of dip or hummus. They’re good food.

My cousin and her kids lived with us for awhile and it was awful for a number of reasons, but for practical purposes I’ll just discuss the food problem. Her kids are so great, so smart, and so creative, but they ate absolute garbage. They also had a weight problem. She would say, “Courtney, you gotta help me! You lost all that weight! Help my kids please please please please…” I heard this about three times a day. So, I told her everything I knew: put real food in front of your kids, don’t give them huge portions, let them eat however much they need, and make sure they get fruits and veggies. Then she would make them a giant pot of dinosaur shapes mac n’ cheese (well, ok, that’s a LITTLE bit awesome) and a full baking sheet of tater tots (seriously, they were a food group when I was growing up). 

I’m not a doctor, but anyone who has ever lived outside of a rock knows that this kind of crap is bad for you in huge doses. Sure, they’re happy now but eating that kind of junk has long term consequences towards your health. Also, as I told her, I was always, ALWAYS, the fat kid growing up. That screws you up forever! I still have trouble feeling ok about eating certain foods for fear that that chubby kid everyone used to laugh at will come back. Don’t get me wrong, I think those kids are beautiful, they don’t need to be thin. What they need, is a healthy relationship with food, and that starts with childhood.

So my advice? Do your kids and yourself a favor and offer good foods. They don’t have to be expensive, a pound of kale is only 89 cents right now, but they need to be in your house and available for when hunger strikes. When you hear, “I’m huuuuungry!” say, “Ok, would you like some carrots with hummus or an apple?” or “Alright, would you like to have a few prunes and crackers?” Don’t let them pick their snacks and meals, or they’ll ask for whatever fried goodies or sweets you have on hand without fail. Give your kids good foods, and they’ll be grateful when they’re older. In fact, you should learn to love prunes, too.

Keeps ya regular.

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