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How I'm Feeding My Kids Differently in 2014 by Real Mom Nutrition

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions (beyond a flimsy promise to “drink more water” which always fizzles out by January 3rd). But recently, I read about a concept of assigning “themes” to the year instead, and that seems much more doable. Besides, thinking in broader concepts instead of narrow action items is a nice change of pace for this serial to-do-list maker. So while I’m still mulling over my personal themes for 2014, I decided to focus a few on how I feed my kids, since there’s always room for improvement in that department.

Here are the three themes I chose:

1. Balance.

Perhaps it’s because we’re crawling out from underneath an avalanche of holiday goodies (many of which were from my own kitchen), but I’m convinced we need to scale back on sugar in our house. Ideally, I like to limit sweet treats to no more than one a day and let my kids choose when they want it. In reality, this strategy fails more frequently than it works. My love for baking combined with sugary foods seemingly everywhere in my children’s lives–from school breakfast to the dry cleaner–conspires to over-sweeten our diets. It’s time to get back on track.

2. Adventure.

We recently took the kids to a Japanese steakhouse for the first time. They were thrilled with all the fire and spatula-tossing antics, my fourth grader ate two bowls of miso soup, and I was reminded that we don’t take nearly enough culinary risks when eating out, even though we live in a city with all kinds of restaurants. In 2014, I’d like to give the kids more exposure to different cuisines, instead of relying on the familiar. They may not like every meal, but they’ll probably surprise us too.

3. Independence.

I am intent on raising Men Who Can Cook. But too often, I let my desire to fix dinner quickly (read: have 30 minutes to myself in the kitchen and not create a huge mess) nix any plans to involve my boys in meal prep. That needs to change. I’m inspired by Brianne DeRosa of Red, Round or Green, whose boys (ages 7 and 4) cook dinner for the family once a week with very little help (read all about it and see one of their meals here). I’d also like to get my kids more involved in packing their lunches and fixing their own snacks, not just to lighten my own load but also to give them tools they’ll need as they get older.

How about you: What would you like to change about how you feed your kids in the coming year?

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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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