Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nature Over Nurture

I'm watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and have come to a few conclusions:
1) Jamie Oliver is super hot. I want to kidnap him. Or maybe replace his wife in that cute little family he's got.
2) Abby is never, ever eating her school lunches in LA.
3) If Abby is to grow up with a well-rounded diet and a healthy relationship with food, it starts with me.
I'm really behind what he's doing, even if I sometimes think him a bit too pushy for my liking (though I guess that's his point, too).
I recall an episode in which he visited a kindergarten class, asking students to identify different fruits and vegetables by sight. He held up rutabagas, asparagus, heck even mangoes and they stared at him blankly. It was a quick demonstration that left a lasting impact on me: Abby needs to be involved in our food, starting now.
Abby participates in meal preparation, in taste testing, in trying things before she says she doesn't care for it. I want Abby to be accustomed to trying out new foods, healthy, fresh, whole foods. She may not enjoy the tastes of them all, but if I do as I say, she'll know where it came from, how it got here, and how we eat it.
I had a few girlfriends growing up who admit they had unhealthy relationships with food. It was seen as something to be closely monitored, lest ye become fat. It was seen as something to eat with reckless abandon (if it tastes good, do it). I don't judge those families, because I truly believe we do the best we can with what we know. But I saw what I saw, and I know what I know: And armed with the knowledge I have today, I realize a few things I'd like to keep in mind:
1- Food is nourishment, above all else. I need to make food choices the help sustain our family's health. Calorie counts, treats, and amounts come second. First is valuable foods. Spinach leaves trump iceberg lettuce any day.
2- Try everything. I know kids are picky eaters. I was. I also know they have to try things over and over again before maybe deciding they like something. In our house, nobody is expected to clear their plate, but everyone is expected to try everything. If Abby doesn't want to eat what's in front of her, that's it: nothing else for dinner. I always consider her tastes and food needs when preparing dinner, so if she doesn't choose to eat it, that's it for the night. It's a strict line, but we're consistent, and that's what we've decided. So far she's still growing and thriving, and trying a litany of new foods each month.
3- Snacking: I remember as a kid I was usually hungry. Not hungry because we didn't have enough food, but because I had three meals, two snacks, and that was it. As the mama myself, I am sticking to that routine: three meals, two snacks. I recognize Abby has growth spurts, and especially now as she's learning to express herself, if she says she's hungry, I let her eat. It's always something healthy that won't ruin her appetite for lunch. (Let's say applesauce, or grapes). If she wants something specific for the billionth time, like a graham cracker or a muffin, nope. Sorry kid, it's this or nothing until lunch.
I know these aren't revolutionary thoughts, like what Jamie's trying to do, but this is my effort to thwart raising a family on processed junk, sugar, and grease.

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