Lines in the Sand

by Sally on November 23, 2009

Cloth or disposable, breast or bottle, attachment parenting or cry-it-out. When you become a mother, they’re some of the Big Choices you’re faced with right off the bat. But even when you’re past the baby stage—when your Diaper Champ can no longer contain the stinkiness and everyone is (kind of, sort of, almost) sleeping through the night—you’re still left with dozens of Big Choices to make everyday, ones that have a much greater impact than Pampers or Fuzzi Bunz: What to put on your child’s plate.

As moms, we’re no stranger to judgment—even from, well, strangers. (I never thought well-meaning elderly women actually said, “Oh my, don’t you think that baby needs a hat?” until it happened to me.) But if you’ve ever caught flak for spit-shining a paci, try being a dietitian at a corn-dogs-and-Doritos-type party with your kids. “Really? You let Henry eat that?”

The current debate among dietitians sparked by the Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk campaign—whether chocolate milk in schools is a good way for kids to get calcium or just more sugar for a generation that doesn’t need it—got me thinking about the choices we all make when feeding our kids. About how those choices, just like the early baby-days decisions, can be complicated and personal. And about how vastly different those choices can look, mom to mom—even when those moms are dietitians. Sure, we all try to follow the basics: lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty details, we’re all over the map.

Personally, I lean old-school. I’m one of those “all foods fit” types, because while I strive to make healthful choices 90-ish percent of the time, I don’t want to live in a world without pizza and cupcakes. Or chocolate milk, for that matter. And I don’t want my kids to live there either.

I guess that might be surprising, for those who subscribe to the berries-and-organic-twigs notion of what a dietitian eats (and feeds her kids). But I also have my lines in the sand: I’m okay with a sweet treat everyday, but my kindergartener has never tasted soda. I don’t mind the kids’ menu for (albeit extremely rare) family restaurant outings, but I absolutely refuse to keep hot dogs or chicken nuggets in the house. I see no problem with day-glo-pink squeeze yogurts for Henry’s lunchbox, but you won’t ever catch me buying gummy fruit snacks.

How about you: What seemingly forboden foods don’t faze you? And where do you draw the line?

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